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
Hansel, Gretel and Katie
by Seyward Goodhand
The depredations of a corrupt local government and the ravages of a harsh prairie winter force an ostracized but self-sufficient widow to open her home to innocents with nowhere else to turn. Journey Prize finalist Seyward Goodhand's effortless storytelling allows the humanity to shine through in this grim take on a classic tale.
by Cynthia Flood
New wife and mother Julie is a woman struggling to find her place. Her dilemmas, while modest, feel harsh, and reflect the ways in which women were once denied control over their own bodies. Her first steps toward independence bring great pain—and not only to herself. With sparing, incisive prose, Cynthia Flood unravels what it meant to be a married woman in post-war era Vancouver, creating an evocative and even unsettling experience for the reader.
“With a precision of language that startles and delights, Cynthia Flood offers glimpses of those moments in which the essence of an entire life is revealed.”
— Nancy Richler, author of The Imposter Bride
“What a great story! Told in terse, restrained sentences, yet opening to a lush and radiant heart, Addresses captures the anguish of a marriage gone off the rails, and the moments of redemption that arrive from unexpected places. Flood’s use of language is uniquely her own–staccato, clean as a knife, and brilliant. Cynthia Flood has done it again.”
— Shaena Lambert, author of Radiance
“The abruptness of the title tells so much about this exquisitely drawn story by Cynthia Flood. ‘Tell the truth but tell it slant,’ Emily Dickinson advised, and that’s always been the approach Flood has preferred for her bone-china fictions, edging into them sideways. Once escorted into the story’s arrhythmic heart, we readers have no choice but to immerse ourselves in a world long gone but still very much with us, to emerge both shaken and stirred.”
— Dave Margoshes, author of A Book of Great Worth
by Kayt Burgess
When Blanche first began singing, she was humble, eager, willing to work, willing to learn. Now she is headstrong, condescending, unprofessional, and just a tiny bit full of herself. She is also the closest to genius that Antoinette, her accompanist, may ever have a chance to work with.
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
of My Sound
by Andrew Forbes
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
by Jessica Westhead
In this unexpectedly dark character study, Jessica Westhead puts you in the shoes of an apprentice forced to listen to a seasoned wedding DJ as he lectures on the tricks of the trade. Emboldened by the captivity of his audience, the DJ's 'humorous' observations and grievances claw deeper and deeper, betraying ugliness at the core.
“In the still-frothing wake of And Also Sharks, here’s another sadly hilarious and hilariously sad Jessica Westhead story with bite. The self-deluding wedding DJ in The Lesson is a perfect addition to Westhead’s bent gallery of sympathetic sad sacks blustering their way through work and love ever after.”
— Zsuzsi Gartner, author of All the Anxious Girls on Earth and the 2011 Giller Prize–shortlisted Better Living Through Plastic Explosives
by Dave Margoshes
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.
by Caroline Adderson
Coming out of an unhappy relationship and a stint at an artist colony, Charlotte, a writer, takes a job teaching at a private ESL college. There she befriends Renata—audacious, sexy, and as changeable as Proteus. “I have a story for you,” Renata says to her one day over lunch. She doesn’t elaborate further, but Charlotte soon discovers that she has found in Renata an unexpectedly passionate and compelling subject.
“Caroline Adderson is such a graceful and intelligent writer that the work that must surely go into creating her hilarious, prismatic stories is never betrayed in the language. There is no strain on the page, not a bead of sweat. I think of her as a writer’s writer. I envy her talent and learn from her sentences. The short story, Obscure Objects, is, I’m happy to report, Adderson at her glorious best.”
— Barbara Gowdy, author of Helpless and The White Bone
“Obscure Objects, Caroline Adderson’s fierce and affecting workplace comedy, is a deadpan gem: droll, moving, snapping-smart.”
— Meg Wolitzer, author of The Uncoupling, The Ten-Year Nap, and The Position