by Jeff Dupuis
A man in the throes of a breakup is selling all of his possessions on Kijiji and Craigslist. Greg’s couch, his VHS tapes, obsolete desktop computer, and cow-shaped clock – it all must go. Between pot smoking, pizza eating, and watching Alfred Hitchcock’s Rope, he meets with would-be buyers, taking his old life apart piece by discount piece in order to figure out what went wrong.
HALF OF MY LIFE is up for sale on Kijiji, the other half on Craigslist. Now I just have to count down the minutes on my La vache qui rit clock—a steal at five bucks by the way—and see who comes calling. Technically the clock’s not even mine, but I’m selling everything.
My digital camera is still looped around my wrist and dangles as if from the gallows. This morning, like a crime scene technician, I carefully photographed the apartment and everything in it, room by room. Then I uploaded all the pics, and am now open for business.
The telephone rings and I part with my couch for forty bucks and the bullshit Ikea lamps covered in Chinese lantern paper for fifteen each. I prop the screen door open with an old phone book kept only for that purpose, and let the pot smoke drift off the balcony into the alley behind my building.
A nice mellow lowers itself onto the apartment like a painted wood moon above the stage in a play. The next call is for the obsolete desktop computer—mouse, keyboard, monitor included—all for ten dollars. It’s almost useless, but someone’s grandma will want it for writing e-mails to grandchildren or schoolfellows from the old country. “Agnes, can you believe it? Me, owning a computer!”
The lady on the phone asks all sorts of basic questions so I take out a pen and pad and write down instructions on how to use the thing in my clearest stoner scrawl. I add little pictures for further clarification.
“You will hold it for me, won’t you? I’m driving an awfully long way,” she says.
“My word is my bond.”
“It’s for my mother.”
“Of course it is.”
An idiot grin hangs across my face like a “Happy Birthday” banner on the back wall of a surprise party. I hang up the phone and rest it on my thigh, too lazy to shift and squirm until I can slide it into my pocket. The cow on the clock smiles at me, a perpetual, old-friend smile, as if this is the first time we’ve seen each other in years and all is forgiven.
My first customer arrives, a sixty-something man with wire-frame glasses, the kind who tries to intellectualize the hard-on he’s had for the Beatles for the past half-century.
“Nice apartment,” he says, quietly.
“Nice turtleneck,” I say.
about the author
JEFF DUPUIS writes fiction, poetry and satire. He is madly in love with baseball and still daydreams that he can become a world-class athlete from the comfort of his basement. His work has been published on The Barnstormer and in magazines and journals such as Valve, Foliate Oak Magazine and University of Toronto Magazine.
from the library
by Michael Bryson
Toronto in the twenty-first century: At night, a beacon on a lonely ancient lake, a drainage pond from the last ice age. In the daytime, a bulwark of glass, glinting in the radiant sun. Joe, Mary, and her cat, Sam, sit in a lakeside condo, trapped by a crazed, mysterious sniper. What has become of their lives? What has become of their city? What has become of their century? As the situation begins to unravel, Mary finds herself wondering, “What would Margaret Atwood do?”
Off the Main Highway
by Courtney McDermott
At the Chickasaw Motel, three generations of the McGuinness clan are led by their elderly and overbearing patriarch. Only little Riley, “the smartest f-ing kid”, is spared the brunt of Grandpa McGuinness’s cruelty; ironically, it is his encouragement that provides her with a way out.
by Kirsty Logan
The anarchic relationships holding together a group of teen girls - whose lines between love and hate, jealousy and loyalty, are not so much drawn as they are furiously scribbled - are put to the test at an unforgettable birthday party. This story captures all the angst and uncertainty of adolescence, with prose as sharp and jarring as a smashed kaleidoscope.
“Rarely an author comes along whose work hits you with the impact of a slap. I have had this experience with the work of Jayne Anne Phillips, with Lorrie Moore and Mary Gaitskill; most recently I have felt this on discovering the writing of Kirsty Logan. Her work is elegant, minimal, and innovative, but underlying it all is a great passion. If the world is a place where talent is recognised—in time, I believe, we may come to say her name alongside the aforementioned.”
— Ewan Morrison, author of Swung
by Caroline Adderson
Coming out of an unhappy relationship and a stint at an artist colony, Charlotte, a writer, takes a job teaching at a private ESL college. There she befriends Renata—audacious, sexy, and as changeable as Proteus. “I have a story for you,” Renata says to her one day over lunch. She doesn’t elaborate further, but Charlotte soon discovers that she has found in Renata an unexpectedly passionate and compelling subject.
“Caroline Adderson is such a graceful and intelligent writer that the work that must surely go into creating her hilarious, prismatic stories is never betrayed in the language. There is no strain on the page, not a bead of sweat. I think of her as a writer’s writer. I envy her talent and learn from her sentences. The short story, Obscure Objects, is, I’m happy to report, Adderson at her glorious best.”
— Barbara Gowdy, author of Helpless and The White Bone
“Obscure Objects, Caroline Adderson’s fierce and affecting workplace comedy, is a deadpan gem: droll, moving, snapping-smart.”
— Meg Wolitzer, author of The Uncoupling, The Ten-Year Nap, and The Position
by Jessica Westhead
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
by Andrew Forbes
In a suburb that is nowhere and everywhere, Jorgen deals with the feelings of alienation and frustration from his collapsing relationship by getting into his car, putting on Patti Smith, and searching for meaning and belonging anywhere he can — regardless of whether he is welcome or wanted.
Hansel, Gretel and Katie
by Seyward Goodhand
The depredations of a corrupt local government and the ravages of a harsh prairie winter force an ostracized but self-sufficient widow to open her home to innocents with nowhere else to turn. Journey Prize finalist Seyward Goodhand's effortless storytelling allows the humanity to shine through in this grim take on a classic tale.
Was More Here
by Danny Goodman
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