by Cynthia Flood
New wife and mother Julie is a woman struggling to find her place. Her dilemmas, while modest, feel harsh, and reflect the ways in which women were once denied control over their own bodies. Her first steps toward independence bring great pain—and not only to herself. With sparing, incisive prose, Cynthia Flood unravels what it meant to be a married woman in post-war era Vancouver, creating an evocative and even unsettling experience for the reader.
“With a precision of language that startles and delights, Cynthia Flood offers glimpses of those moments in which the essence of an entire life is revealed.”
— Nancy Richler, author of The Imposter Bride
“What a great story! Told in terse, restrained sentences, yet opening to a lush and radiant heart, Addresses captures the anguish of a marriage gone off the rails, and the moments of redemption that arrive from unexpected places. Flood’s use of language is uniquely her own–staccato, clean as a knife, and brilliant. Cynthia Flood has done it again.”
— Shaena Lambert, author of Radiance
“The abruptness of the title tells so much about this exquisitely drawn story by Cynthia Flood. ‘Tell the truth but tell it slant,’ Emily Dickinson advised, and that’s always been the approach Flood has preferred for her bone-china fictions, edging into them sideways. Once escorted into the story’s arrhythmic heart, we readers have no choice but to immerse ourselves in a world long gone but still very much with us, to emerge both shaken and stirred.”
— Dave Margoshes, author of A Book of Great Worth
The right apartment. Meaning what?
For Julie, that Jeremy be in it.
He did the hunting. Often she came along, still happy though sickish-dazed from The Pill.
Distinctive 1 BR suite even had a pantry. They moved in.
By then Julie could, just, see around him.
Also she knew she had never filled Jeremy’s vision.
Sort-of arguments began, about The Pill. After research that took a lot of time away from his work, he decided on condoms and foam.
In the distinctive building’s entry, ceramic tiles were octagons in a complex black-and-white arrangement. There was stained glass and no elevator. No laundry room. The brass door-plates and fir floors were original.
“I checked.” Satisfied, Jeremy closed the pantry door to work for hours so they could get ahead.
The paned windows stood tall, Julie not. They and the floors gleamed (she made sure of that), yet the elegant life once lived in these turn-of-the-century Vancouver rooms did not seem like anything she could match.
“What about a baby?”
“No, not yet.”
Every time, Julie did not start a third interchange. Did she lack character? She hungered for concord. They settled, kind of, on “Soon.”
To be alone so much was still surprising. The magazines suggested picking one room each day, in rotation, for special cleaning. Julie did that. She ordered dress patterns, clipped recipes. Dinner was quite good sometimes. When Jeremy stayed late at the law office, she’d get into bed to wait, wanting him.
The spermicidal foam oozed all over the bed linen. Back and forth Julie walked to the laundromat, never meeting the same people there.
Jeremy couldn’t or wouldn’t believe she hadn’t tricked him.
“Got your way, again.” He slapped at the want ads, some red-circled. “I have no time for this. Can you at least follow up?”
Did “again” mean he hadn’t wanted to marry?
Julie followed up, went further.
Of the place she found, he said, “It’ll do for the time being.”
What could time do but be?
Jeremy conceded the value of 2 BR, nr shops, bus, beach, although old frame houses with lacy trim had been bulldozed to make space for the mod apt tower. He deplored and Julie smiled at the lobby’s earnest mural of a tropical sunset, the palm trees etched on the mirror near the mailboxes.
Of 1 prkg he said, “Too bad you were careless. No money for that now.”
Their own decor did please him. All paint and textiles and floor coverings were bone. Not the red lumps that dogs gnaw on, Julie knew that. White trim.
“Perfect neutrals. You do see how they don’t call attention to themselves?”
about the author
CYNTHIA FLOOD’s latest publication is The English Stories (Biblioasis 2009), linked fictions set at a girls’ school and in a hotel in 1950s Britain, when the empire was imploding though many UK citizens hadn’t noticed. Her short fiction has won the Journey Prize and awards from PRISM International, National Magazines, and Western Magazines. Stories have appeared most recently in The New Quarterly, CNQ, and Grain. Cynthia Flood is now writing a fourth book of stories, unlinked, with the working title of Red Girl Rat Boy. She lives in Vancouver. Visit her website at www.cynthiaflood.com.
from the library
In New York City, Ben smokes too much and sleeps with women as a way to deaden his insecurities. With every indiscretion, he fights off adulthood for one more day, until the return of an ex-lover leaves him unsure of everything. Ben’s best friend, Josh, struggles to find the good in his marriage to Maddie, even as he searches for a way to keep from losing her. Ben’s neighbor, Mrs. Aguilera, looks to make peace with those she has already lost. Gripping tightly to one another like the oddest of families, Ben and his friends embody the place in which they live: a city where everything combines, with a touch of perfect madness, into something more than the sum of its parts.
“I love this story because it’s just plain good. The characters are broken and unsure, but the love they have for each other and the humor that carries them along is genuine and lovely to behold. This story made me laugh even while it was hitting me in the gut, and I’d like nothing more than to sit down and drink a beer with everyone in it. Mr. Goodman, thank you for rocking my literary waffle.”
— Lish McBride, author of Hold Me Closer, Necromancer
After twenty years of running, Betty quietly returns to her hometown of Arbford, thinking it a solid place to finally put down some roots. But the adage 'you can't go home again' proves true, as Betty finds that her mere presence is more than enough to disrupt the stagnant lives of everyone around her.
“In this cautionary suburban fairy tale, a big-city refugee searching for home finds herself in a nest of multiple Mikes and Pyrex-wielding vipers. With enchanting style and snort-causing wit, Grace O’Connell does casserole-studded claustrophobia like nobody’s business.”
— Jessica Westhead, author of And Also Sharks and Pulpy & Midge
Charlotte is on the cusp of adolescence, and her world is being turned upside down. Unable to turn to her distant mother or absent father, she searches for guidance on the streets of downtown Toronto—and discovers God (or some version of Him) in the gutter.
“The Last Judgment is a story that penetrates into the heart of childhood sadness. Charlotte is without tools to fix what is broken, except for the incredible force of her will. The connections she makes between religion, parental failure, sexuality, and love make perfect sense because they are told in her bell-clear voice. This story is warm and tragic and, at moments, grimly funny.”
— Rebecca Rosenblum, author of Once and Road Trips
Steve has his own comic book store, a limitless supply of comic books, and all the time in the world to collect them. That should be enough. But eventually, everyone - even Steve - gets lonely. And when his time comes, he too has to learn that (eternal) life isn’t about what you spend it on - it’s about who you spend it with.
“Every time I read something by Kirsty, I think, ‘Damn her, I wish I’d written that.’ She is the kind of writer that you can’t help but read with teeth-crunching envy, broken-hearted admiration, and a realization that your own work is not half as good as you’d hoped it might be. Be forewarned writers and readers: you will never be the same.”
— Shanna Germain, finalist for the 2010 John Preston Short Fiction Award and nominee for the 2008 Pushcart Prize
June's mother is getting married and there's nothing June can do about it. Counting down the days to the wedding while trapped with a sort-of friend and unwanted family-to-be at their lakeside cottage in the Kawarthas, June searches desperately for a way to make the world - and her life - stand still.
Catherine wants what Richard has: a richly decorated house, and a perfect, lavished-upon baby. Catherine also wants Richard: a disaffected diplomat whose true passion is for cinema. But Catherine is only the babysitter, and her envy—and its fallout—come to the fore when Richard is accused of a crime, and she must decide whether to help exonerate him.
“Laure Baudot’s prose is exquisite, patient, and sophisticated. In the Afternoon immerses you in the fascinating and complicated mind of a babysitter who is wise beyond her years, yet dangerously impulsive at the same time. This story is irresistible and heartbreaking.”
— Sarah Selecky, author of the 2010 Giller Prize–shortlisted collection This Cake Is for the Party
In this unexpectedly dark character study, Jessica Westhead puts you in the shoes of an apprentice forced to listen to a seasoned wedding DJ as he lectures on the tricks of the trade. Emboldened by the captivity of his audience, the DJ's 'humorous' observations and grievances claw deeper and deeper, betraying ugliness at the core.
“In the still-frothing wake of And Also Sharks, here’s another sadly hilarious and hilariously sad Jessica Westhead story with bite. The self-deluding wedding DJ in The Lesson is a perfect addition to Westhead’s bent gallery of sympathetic sad sacks blustering their way through work and love ever after.”
— Zsuzsi Gartner, author of All the Anxious Girls on Earth and the 2011 Giller Prize–shortlisted Better Living Through Plastic Explosives