Stories

Launch, Lawrence and later …

Men do not wear high heels, but they still suffer. “He could now walk almost without pain”: The Prussian Officer. Since reading that sentence I want to write a story from it. My high school English teacher adored Lawrence and as a result I knew every nook and cranny of Sons and Lovers by age sixteen (those being pretty steamy nooks and crannies of course). David Herbert Lawrence may not have been a Serious Lady but he was certainly a very Serious Gent, and I find myself returning to his stories and poems with renewed respect after mocking his loin-filled novels for too many years. Class, passion, nature–all my favourite topics. Thanks to Keath Fraser for reminding me of this.

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Something About the Animal: Stories

Biblioasis, 2011

something about the animal

“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.”
—The Rover

“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


Double Lives: Writing and Motherhood

McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2008

Double Lives: Writing and MotherhoodIn 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