by Daniel Karasik
People grow in dimensions other than those we perceive. The teenage narrator of award-winning author Daniel Karasik’s latest story must deal with the fact that his older sister is now a grown woman, and Lucy, his crush-next-door, has become a mystery, with depths beyond his comprehension. Has he been coasting all this time, school and television his life’s only sources of momentum?
LUCY, WHOM I HAVE known for ages and with whom I’d like to have sex, says to me in our grade twelve civics class: “There’s a party in the woods on Friday. Michael Opperich and Shira Coffler found this secret spot.”
“Near the train tracks.”
WHEN I GET HOME from school, the phone is ringing. It’s Lucy.
“What are you doing right now?” she says.
“Talking to you.”
“What were you doing when I called?”
“Nothing. Drinking a glass of chocolate milk. Taking off my shoes. I just got home.”
“So what are you doing next?”
“Hanging up the phone.”
Lucy and I have known each other since we were four, when my house was two doors down from hers and our parents used our pre-pre-pubescent love affair—she was my girlfriend, and I liked to kick her, apparently—as a means of arranging some reciprocal babysitting. When my parents wanted to go to the movies on a Saturday night, they’d leave me with Lucy and the Friedmans; when Mr. and Mrs. Friedman wanted to spend some time with their mistress or mistress, respectively, they’d deposit Lucy on our front stoop. We know each other too well. Lucy knows, for example, that I don’t like talking on the phone, while I know, for example, that Lucy will call me after school every day, without fail, until the end of time.
I wind up in front of the TV with potato chips. After fifteen minutes I feel like I’m wasting my life and should be discovering a new energy source or writing a scathing exposé on modern waste-removal methods instead of lying on the couch. At four-thirty Tania comes into the house and calls out, “Hello?”
“You’re not supposed to be home,” I say, because my sister lives downtown now and this is my house, not hers.
“That’s interesting,” she says, and goes into the washroom to primp. My sister makes pit stops at home—my home—when she’s meeting Rod, the thirty-two-year-old software designer whom she, my twenty-one-year-old sister, insists she loves, Rod who still lives in his parents’ basement on Oakland Drive, two blocks over, where his collection of much-signed Pink Floyd paraphernalia is apparently unsurpassed.
She comes into the family room, where the TV flickers against my closed eyelids. “I’m going out for the night,” she says, and I open my eyes to see that she’s tucked her shoulder-length red hair into a pair of bobbing pigtails, creating the impression that she’s approximately eleven years old. My eleven-year-old sister will have sex tonight with a big man in his parents’ basement. I feel dirty.
As she pulls away in Rod’s Camaro, I stumble out to the living room window and watch them go. I wonder if she’s happy. She claims she is, what with the alleged love, the apartment in the Annex subsidized by my dad, the approaching end to her biology degree at U of T. I’d like to ask her: Is there life beyond the wire? Does life get bigger than this? Realer?
about the author
DANIEL KARASIK is a writer, director, and actor. A recent grand prize winner of the CBC Literary Award for Fiction and the Canadian Jewish Playwriting Award, he is the author of a book of plays, The Crossing Guard & In Full Light (Playwrights Canada Press), with two more books fresh off the presses: a play for children, The Remarkable Flight of Marnie McPhee (Playwrights Canada Press), and a debut poetry collection, Hungry (Cormorant Books). He also helms the Toronto-based theatre company Tango Co., through which he has developed many of his plays, subsequently produced across Canada, in the United States, and regularly in translation in Germany.
from the library
Inspired by true events, this story by Scotiabank Giller Prize-nominated author Pauline Holdstock tells of the incredible bond between a mother and daughter, and with gut-wrenching poignancy reminds us of the little things that make life worth living.
“Hers is the kind of prose you get lost in.”
— National Post on The Hunter and the Wild Girl
“Holdstock’s writing manages to be both heartbreakingly poetic and densely detailed ... sad passages, ghostlike recollections, written almost from the vantage point of the present, establish the book as a great work of fiction.”
— The Globe and Mail on Into the Heart of the Country, longlisted for the 2011 Scotiabank Giller Prize
“Holdstock, with a few deft strokes, pulls the reader into the tumultuous life of an alluring rabble of characters: painters, sculptors, patrons, fools, and slaves ... In Beyond Measure, she proves herself a master of pacing. Her lively, macabre plot trips lightly along in spite of its dark elements.”
— The Globe and Mail on Beyond Measure, finalist for the 2004 Giller Prize and the 2004 Commonwealth Writers' Prize
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?”
Decades ago, when bands like the Everly Brothers rode the airwaves and vacancy signs shone like beacons in the night, a young man gets his first taste of love, loss, and the ethereal satisfaction that comes with knowing that the world is turning and life is being lived.
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
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'.
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.
“How do you give voice to a sax player silenced by the politics of his country? If you’re a jazz singer like Kurt Elling, you take Dexter Gordon’s solo on ‘Body and Soul’ from his Homecoming album and you turn it into vocalese. If your name is Andrew Forbes and your tenor sax player is Ethiopian and it is Addis Ababa 1973 and his musical idol is King Curtis, you write The Expansiveness of My Sound and what you write is wider, more straight-ahead, stronger with political fervour, sadder than Elling but every bit as smart. Forbes is doing it solo and you have to imagine the quartet behind him. Read it with your fingers tapping and you’ll catch the beat. Read it with your ears open and you’ll hear Metche Hufu’s body and soul. Dig it!”
— T. F. Rigelhof, author of Hooked on Canadian Books: The Good, the Better, and the Best Canadian Novels Since 1984
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.
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