by Darren Greer
An imaginative and resonant work of speculative literature from ReLit Award-winning author Darren Greer. Twin brothers, born on an oppressive family farm, discover a miraculous way to escape the dreariness of their lives, charting a course that promises equal measures of wonder and heartbreak.
DALTON LIKED TO GO when there was no moon. I, on the other hand, would have liked to fly across the face of the moon — to turn and plummet through the moonlight down to the river, to catch myself just before I tumbled in, to will myself to hover. I would have tried it, but Dalton wouldn't let me.
He was older, but only by seven minutes.
The number seven is important, he said.
There are seven spots on a ladybug's back.
Seven days in a week.
A mammal's neck has seven bones.
Dalton was smart. His teachers said he had the highest scores they’d ever seen.
We often wondered what it was in the seven minutes that made such a difference. What happened to him while he was out? What happened to me while I was in? Because we discussed it so much, I could see myself inside my mother. Feel myself there, enveloped in her, floating, flying even then, as Dalton — bawling and flecked with gore — was being born, being laid on a table, being sterilized and swabbed clean for this new world.
“I remember it,” he said.
Our parents were scared of us.
My father spent all his time in the fields and the barn, and my mother yelled at us when she heard us talking about black holes and non¬linear equations and growing pumpkins the size of houses by tinkering with their genes. “It's not normal,” she said, “and it's not right.”
Dalton said they were superstitious. “They believe in God,” he said, as if that was all the proof he needed.
WHEN WE FLEW WE had to get comfortable.
That was the trick of it, the key.
We would lie on our backs in bed and just breathe.
Dalton said we could do it because of something in our brains.
“More of them is turned on than other peoples’,” he said. “The way that we know more and see more — that’s part of it too.”
Dalton first told me he could do it when we were nine. I didn't believe him. I thought he was making it up. Morning after morning he'd wake up and tell me where he'd been the night before, how far he flew, and he was puzzled because I couldn't do it too. He got me to lie in bed and reach out and hold his hand when we fell asleep so that he could take me with him. But I just slept.
One night, I suddenly awoke and Dalton was standing above me. He was smiling.
“Get up,” he said.
“Why?” I said.
“Because we're going to do it.”
“It's dumb,” I said. “I can't do it.”
“Get up,” he said. When I did, he told me to look back at my bed.
I saw myself lying there. And even though Dalton was standing in front of me, I could also see him lying on his bed.
“You see?” he said.
about the author
DARREN GREER grew up in several towns in Nova Scotia, including Greenfield and Liverpool. He studied literature at the University of King¹s College, Halifax, as well as Carleton University, Ottawa. His first novel, Tyler’s Cape, was published in March 2001 to critical acclaim and was on the bestseller list of the Halifax Chronicle-Herald. Still Life with June was nominated for the Pearson Readers’ Choice Award at The Word On The Street, Toronto, in 2003 and is the Winner of the 2004 ReLit Award. His latest novel is Just Beneath My Skin, published by Cormorant Books.
from the library
Health care workers on a night out unwind, allowing the anxieties and passions they've had to suppress on the job finally uncoil, like tendrils creeping out into the world - and into each other. Written with empathy and panache, this story is a portrait of briefly flaring humanity - of people granted a temporary reprieve from professionalism, and not quite knowing what to do with it.
“At the Bar is Rosenblum at her best - exploring the complicated nature of work and relationships with her trademark perceptiveness, humour, and compassion, and creating characters that will stay with you long after the story is over.”
— Amy Jones, author of What Boys Like and Other Stories
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?”
In the rugged Nepisiguit River region of northern New Brunswick, two hunters face off. One is local sports lodge employee Danny Knockwood, a Mi’gmaw guide with a withered hand. The other is Mui’n, a one-eared black bear battling his inexorable hunger. When Danny is charged by the lodge owner to hunt down the bear that is frightening guests at the salmon pools, his personal values come into sharp conflict with his commitment to the task. The resulting confrontation tests both his physical strength and his beliefs, as Danny begins to recognize a kindred spirit within the fiercely determined bear.
Portraits of people marooned within themselves, trapped by their past experiences, by uncertainty and anxiety — individuals for whom each new situation is a grueling journey towards the present, a place where action and choice are possible. In Second World, Matt Cahill illustrates, with honesty and empathy, how the most important breakthroughs are not the life-altering revelations, but rather the minor miracles that get us through each day.
In the late 60s, the newest member of a group of all-female pearl divers — the ama — sees her life, and the lives of those dear to her, disrupted by an unlikely force: a James Bond film that sends American men to Japan in search of their own personal 'mermaids'.
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
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