Cathy Stonehouse’s Dream House, like any magical dwelling, is not what it at first appears to be. Walk inside. Explore its rooms. It is larger and more expansive than you might think. Also stranger, more peculiar, idiosyncratic. It is a metaverse of possibilities, the locus where what is lived intersects with what is imagined. As Stonehouse herself puts it, “The house is a cocoon, an open coffin. It is full of weather, and changes / every time you dare to look.” Open the door. Close your eyes. The operative word is not housebut dream. Look around. You are already there. –Paul Vermeersch, author of Shared Universe: New and Selected Poems 1995–2020
This complex and unsettling debut novel follows the young Argentine conscript José Ramirez from his torture on the bleak plains of the Falklands, back into his childhood in pre-revolution Argentina, and forward across continents as he grapples with the loss of his father and his country as he knew it. Influenced by the works of Jorge Luis Borges and John Berger, The Causes explores themes of war and trauma, resilience and repair. Mysterious, gripping, poetic and magic-realist,The Causes is a love story for a threatened planet, set in Argentina, Spain, the UK and the South Atlantic.
“One of the best Canadian novels of the year.”–The Malahat Review.
“Stonehouse’s victim-narrator indictments smash the lid off a philosophical Pandora’s box, exposing deeper questions about victim culture, appropriation, art versus exploitation, and that dubious archive, memory.”
—The Quill and Quire
“All too rarely a collection of poems deeply reminds me of why I love to read poetry. Grace Shiver is such a book. Cathy Stonehouse’s range and wrestle with the intractable interdependence of narrative and death is stunning.”
—Betsy Warland, author of Breathing the Page: Reading the Act of Writing
“Stonehouse takes us on a poetic journey laden with visceral and startlingly vivid images.”
—Fiona Tinwei Lam, author of Intimate Distances and Enter the Chrysanthemum, editor of The Bright Well: Contemporary Canadian Poems about Facing Cancer.
“A powerful, searing book of poems that resonates with the reader long after the last page has been read.”
—Rishma Dunlop, author of White Album, Metropolis, Reading Like A Girl and editor of White Ink: Poems on Mothers and Motherhood.
“a collection of superbly crafted and keenly insightful stories … densely layered and complexly structured, showing us generations’ worth of histories, loves and expectations with an enviable economy of style.”
“Cathy Stonehouse performs a delicate balancing act with her first book by presenting troubling subject matter with precise and expressive prose … Something About the Animal brings us to a dark place but leaves just enough light on to make it through the night.”
“Cathy Stonehouse’s debut collection contains one heartbreaking situation after another: sexual abuse, mental illness, loneliness, and death pervade the book. However, Stonehouse’s spare prose reveals the hidden layers of her vulnerable characters with great precision, making it difficult to turn away.
“Keeping Mum” is split into three separate perspectives — Falklands War veteran Kev, his mother, and his father. Kev’s perspective is the most devastating as he teeters between jumbled war memories and lucidity. Stonehouse describes his battle with PTSD in a way that is simultaneously horrible and lovely: “I don’t know if I am alive anymore, or if I’m one of those bags of canvas filled with blood and bone fragments they’re calling brave.”
Despite the sombre material, Stonehouse can be darkly funny. In “Child Abuse,” she describes an animal psychic who takes care of a Ritalin-popping dog that does “pawlates” and takes private yoga classes. And Gaynor, the confused kid mourning her mother’s death in “A Special Sound,” repeatedly recites the incorrect words to what she calls the “necklace prayer”: “Hey old Mary, full of grace, the law deals with thee. Blessed art thou, a monk’s woman, and, blessed tart, the Fruit-of-thy-Loom, Jesus.”
Stonehouse also manages to sneak snippets of hope into the pervading darkness. Women abused, used, or rescued by men hatch independence plans. Some even succeed in breaking free. A tired, disappointed single mother realizes she doesn’t have to live in her ex-husband’s shadow. A teenaged girl manages to escape the home of her best friend’s killer. All are surrounded by ghosts, but in every case, life goes on.”
—Chelsea Murray, a reviewer in Toronto.
Cathy Stonehouse; $19.95 paper 978-1-89723-198-2, 224 pp., Biblioasis, April Reviewed from bound galleys
In Double Lives, the first Canadian literary anthology focusing on mothering and writing, twenty-two writers, who range in reputation from seasoned professionals to noteworthy new talents, reveal the intimate challenges and private rewards of nurturing children while pursuing the passion to write. Varying widely in age, marital status, sexual orientation, culture/ethnicity, and philosophical stance, authors such as Di Brandt, Stephanie Bolster, Linda Spalding, Janice Kulyk Keefer, Sharron Proulx-Turner, Sally Ito Rachel Rose and Susan Olding, make significant and illuminating contributions to our understanding of how writer and mother co-exist.
“This courageous and revealing book… belongs in every mother-writers’ library, to be read not in one gulp, put piece by piece, as the situation demands — and of course, as time permits.”
—The Quill & Quire
“There are many types of domestic situations depicted her as there are writing styles… Reading these very personal and moving essays, I realize it is the lucky ones who have merely double lives.”
—The Globe & Mail
The Words I Know
Press Gang Publishers, 1994
“Cathy Stonehouse moves in language the way Frida Kahlo moves in paint…”
“These poems combine courage and craftsmanship.”