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
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.
If You Waited Here, You Would
See Almost Everything
by Danny Goodman
After Ray collapses on the sidewalk outside a New York coffee shop, the bittersweet vagaries of his long marriage come into focus, one heartbeat at a time. From his new vantage point, flat on his back, all their conflicts are laid out against a canvas of sky, contrasting miscommunications and infidelities against something slower, steadier, and ultimately much vaster than he ever realized.
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
Having lived a long, eventful life, Charlie Weinheimer’s only regret is that he has no one to carry on after him. After a near-death experience, he resolves to find out whether a secret buried in his past is proof he has a legacy after all.
“Margoshes gives us the life of Charlie Weinheimer: quadruple bypass patient, widower whose children all die tragically young, but not a whiner. In his hospital bed at age seventy-seven, he’s seen it all, right? Well, maybe not. Watch as Margoshes calls upon his raconteur skills to thicken the plot.”
— David Carpenter, winner of the 2010 Saskatchewan Book Award for A Hunter’s Confession
The Psychology of Animals Swallowed Alive:
by Kirsty Logan
Embark upon these twenty short, scrumptious flights of fancy from the unmistakable pen of Scott Prize-winning author Kirsty Logan, and you will be astounded, titillated, disturbed, amused, heartbroken, and above all, astonished.
“Logan crafts an exquisitely wrought diorama full of tenderly compelling characters; observations about grief, worship, social order, and human nature, and a love that transcends definition.”
– NPR on Logan's debut novel The Gracekeepers
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?”
Steve has his own comic book store, a limitless supply of comic books, and all the time in the world to collect them. That should be enough. But eventually, everyone - even Steve - gets lonely. And when his time comes, he too has to learn that (eternal) life isn’t about what you spend it on - it’s about who you spend it with.
“Every time I read something by Kirsty, I think, ‘Damn her, I wish I’d written that.’ She is the kind of writer that you can’t help but read with teeth-crunching envy, broken-hearted admiration, and a realization that your own work is not half as good as you’d hoped it might be. Be forewarned writers and readers: you will never be the same.”
— Shanna Germain, finalist for the 2010 John Preston Short Fiction Award and nominee for the 2008 Pushcart Prize