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
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.
Some time after the incomprehensible death of his son, Joan Miró has settled into his new job working the overnight shift at a Hasty Market in Toronto. He has plenty of time to think beneath the fluorescent lights of the convenience store: of ghosts and late nights, of downtown living and dying, of customer service and self-preservation, of the beauty of the night sky, and of the attempts people make to connect with one another despite seemingly insurmountable distances. These fragments of life prove as difficult to make sense of as any code—until one night, when an extraordinary series of events suddenly teases a pattern from the dark.
“In this graceful, dark, and nuanced piece, Lana Storey reveals a private man unhinged by grief. These are events—and this a narrative—that will stay in my mind for a long time. Never one to shirk from difficult truths, Lana Storey writes in the tradition of George Saunders: an original, at times disturbing, but ultimately transformative worldview.”
— Carolyn Smart, author of Hooked: Seven Poems and At the End of the Day
“Cross Yourself is Lana Storey’s gorgeous swirling image constellation, a story about a man becoming unhinged from the universe and finding redemption in a downtown Hasty Market convenience store. A vibrant, beating heart of a short fiction, Cross Yourself is a vortex worth being pulled into.”
— Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer, author of the 2005 Amazon.ca/Books in Canada First Novel Award finalist The Nettle Spinner
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
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.
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
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
After an unexpected malfunction, the technology which enables humanity to cross vast distances has separated an interstellar traveler from the love of her life — not in space, but in time. Now, while her companions remain in stasis, she must endure the loneliness of the journey until the moment her lover wakes.
Winner of the 2015 Friends of Merril Short Story Contest, When I'm Old, When I'm Grey imagines the strange — and strangely familiar — forms that fear and longing can take, as we venture forth into the unknown of the future.