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
Romance is candlelight on cheekbones, blurring gazes and the press of heels on strange sheets. But what happens a year later? You’re sharing bath towels and bickering over who forgot to buy a light bulb. There is beauty in a familiar hand on the nape of your neck. There is love in waking up under a shared blanket. This story is about the romance of domesticity.
“Kirsty is one of the best and brightest . . . when I read her stuff I feel like I could taste it, chew it, roll it around on my tongue, the language is so delicious and sturdy and musical. She also has a knack for getting relationships exactly right in her writing, whether between parent and child or lovers or friends.”
— Amber Sparks, Fiction Editor at Emprise Review
Marcel, a sensitive sniper, knew his life was missing something. But he didn't know what until he set his crosshairs on it: Violet Caine. A ginger-headed lover of Thai food, wanted dead simply because her brother messed with the wrong bike gang. It's a story of redemption coming too late, and the ways happenstance can turn a warm man cold. Then warm again. Whether fate wrote his troubled life, or he wrote it himself, he wants Violet Caine to be the end of it - be it figuratively or literally.
Marta is a human resources employee at a grocery store chain. She moves through the days passively, always taking the path of least resistance, until a case at work - that of a hijab-wearing woman, in defiance of a strict no-hats policy - awakens her to the injustices of her own life.
“This Is a Love Crime by Lee Kvern is a cunning and intensely human look at one of the central issues of our time. It negotiates the space between belief, racism, liberty, and sexuality with curiosity and compassion.”
— Todd Babiak, bestselling author of Toby: A Man and The Garneau Block
“Lee Kvern paints with a scalpel. With characteristic unflinching honesty, she peels the relationship between Marta and Corbin back to quivering nerves in This Is a Love Crime and juxtaposes it against veiled assumptions about cultural oppression. The narrative leaps crackle with energy and empathy. When I read Kvern’s stories, I’m seduced by exquisite detail and—love or loathe them—left with the scent of her characters long after the last page.”
— Betty Jane Hegerat, author of Delivery and The Boy
“In This Is a Love Crime, Lee Kvern uses the intricately drawn characters of Corbin and Marta to explore the charged topics of ethnicity and Western modes of submission and control. Written in Kvern’s distinctive, poetic, and multi-layered style, the story leaves us with warm insight into all the characters—and challenges our hearts and preconceptions.”
— Barb Howard, author of Whipstock, Notes for Monday, and The Dewpoint Show
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?”
Deep in the heart of Ontario cottage country, Izza Ingram’s biological family disintegrates when her parents become trapped in a moment Izza can barely remember. Lost to their parents, she and her sister Paulie form an unlikely family unit under the guidance of their parents’ friend Doug. In this trio of their own making, Izza, Paulie, and Doug try to navigate the differences between the families we are born into versus the families we choose.
Polly knows what she wants: to be in the greatest band in the world. Oliver knows what he wants: Polly. Together they are The Oughts, a duo trying to attain the unattainable, one basic chord at a time.
“Richard Rosenbaum’s The Oughts jabs its sticky little fingers right into your heart and swirls them around in there for a long, long time. Its characters unfold in pitch-perfect awkwardness and tender apathy, and readers will be struck by the surreal hinges and twitching imagery that Rosenbaum flawlessly weaves in. Writers in the audience should take note: Rosenbaum has created a writhing work of fiction that any scribe would aspire to be capable of pulling off.”
— Liz Worth, author of Treat Me Like Dirt: An Oral History of Punk in Toronto and Beyond and Eleven: Eleven