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.
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HEATHER, HIS MORE-OR-LESS EX, worked eight days a week, and Priya, the woman whose face he saw when he closed his eyes, seemed happy to barely know him.
He didn’t know precisely where he was. Some of those coruscated nights, when he was engaged in his habit of getting mildly fucked up and driving around the neighbourhood listening to Patti Smith, looking at the houses’ winking lights, his sense of dislocation would braid together with his profound self-disinterest, and he would realize that he didn’t care what the future might bring, or even whether or not there was one. His desire was indistinguishable from amnesia.
Then, often, one of the air ambulances would thunder overhead, reminding him of Heather, who would be working at the hospital where the chopper was either headed or had just departed, and of the life he was about to see slip away. And he would be tethered once again to the moment in which he found himself, alive and aware, if only just barely.
Plainly, Jorgen was obsessed with Priya, whose married name was Vogel, and who lived nearby on a quiet cul-de-sac with her husband and their four girls. Whether this was a complication or a symptom of his own circumstances, Jorgen lacked the clinical eye to judge. He’d had a therapist, who was jokey, and who correctly diagnosed Jorgen’s severe anxiety, and who once complimented his hair, which left Jorgen wondering if a line had been crossed. The therapist could have ruled on this complication vs. symptom question, but Jorgen never told the therapist about Priya.
He would drive by Priya’s house and park under a big, dark oak tree, and he would weep a bit. There was a trick to finding the right volume for the Patti Smith. It had to be loud enough to blanket him, but not so loud that it would startle anyone passing by walking a dog. He fussed with the volume a lot.
He would usually start with Easter and then move on to Horses, both albums having been significant to his relationship with Heather. They’d met at a Patti Smith concert and, though they’d disagreed about many things over the course of their time together, they’d always agreed on music.
The use of those songs to deepen his feelings for another woman was but one of his insurmountable confusions. But maybe all love sounds the same. Maybe it all tastes and feels and smells the same.
Once he was dried out and pretty messed up and all the lights in Priya’s house had been extinguished he would drive home and then he would wink out, too. Around dawn, if her shift ended on time, Heather would return to the house and go to sleep in the guest room next to the master bedroom. Jorgen had claimed the master but most nights didn’t use it, coming to a full stop on the couch instead. But the master bedroom was where he kept his shirts.
Heather was “marshalling her resources,” she said, and would soon be moving out.
He would maintain that the drawn-out end of the relationship had nothing to do with his nights and how he spent them, sitting in his car and feeling in some way removed from things.
about the author
ANDREW FORBES was born in Ottawa, Ontario and attended Carleton University. He has written film and music criticism, liner notes, sports columns, and short fiction. His work has been nominated for the Journey Prize, and has appeared in publications including VICE Sports, The Classical, The New Quarterly, and This Magazine. What You Need, his debut collection of fiction, was published by Invisible Publishing in 2015 and was nominated for the 2015 Danuta Gleed Literary Award and the 2016 Trillium Book Award. He lives in Peterborough, Ontario. www.andrewgforbes.com
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Saxophonist Metche Hufu and his band are the talk of Addis Ababa, filling nightclubs and packing dance floors. But the precarious existence of this golden age of culture depends on an emperor’s benevolence - and when his power begins to wane, Metche Hufu's music threatens to be silenced by the sounds of a country torn apart.
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— Alex Wong, stevenlebron.com
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— National Post on The Hunter and the Wild Girl
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— The Globe and Mail on Into the Heart of the Country, longlisted for the 2011 Scotiabank Giller Prize
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