Friday, November 26, 2010

Short Story Collections - Here we Go!

I am doing four short story collections at the same time - what an addict eh?  In the truck, I have a CD Great Classic Love Stories.  I bought it for one reason - James Joyce's story, The Dead, is on it.  I have read this story at least four times but I wanted to hear it spoken aloud.  So I have listened to it twice.  This story is so rich, so mysterious, so wonderful.  It is my all round favourite short story. OK so I am obsessed but every reader is obsessed by a certain book, or a certain story.  At least I think so.

I have three short story collections in book form. First is the Giller nominee Light Lifting by Alexander MacLeod much recommended by friend and short story writer Collette Maitland. MacLeod writes tough, punchy prose.  He likes his sentences short and strong.  He does not flinch at a sentence fragment. In fact he likes them.  I have just read the first story, Miracle Mile.  It deals with the all-consuming longing and the squirrely insanity of dedicated athletes.  Memorable stuff.

The second Giller nominee is This Cake is for the Party by Sarah Selecky.  I knew nothing about the author or the book until I started to read Throwing Cotton, a story of a not-so-nice group of friends and a woman who wants to become pregnant with an unreliable guy.  Complex interesting characters but... See last paragraph of this post.

The First Wives Club Coast Salish Style by Lee Maracle.  I started with the last story, The Canoe, the story of a child's struggle with the death of her mother.  Lovely prose, deeply felt.  I was with the kid every minute.

An interesting article by Nicole Dixon in the magazine Canadian Notes and QueriesDixon says the passive female is back in Canadian lit which is awash in women characters who stand around, mope and let things happen, alas, alack. "Stories about passive female characters who do not make choices cannot move a plot forward, resulting in the plotless word clouds that often masquerade as fiction in this country."  Feminism has disappeared from our literature and now the heroine's biggest accomplishment is to get pregnant, says Dixon who provides lots of interesting examples from recent Can Lit.

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