by Michael Bryson
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?”
AFTER THE CONDO WAS built they moved in: Joe, Mary, and her cat, Sam. They had been together seven years (Joe and Mary) and twelve years (Mary and Sam), respectively and respectfully. Seven years. Were they committed now or what? Seven years and neither of them had ever thought of being with anyone else. At least Mary hadn’t (Sam neither). They’d met in the final year of university in a poetry workshop, and now they were property owners. Members of the petty bourgeois. Politically compromised. Or they would have been, if they still thought that way. Which they didn’t.
The condo tower (sixty-five storeys) was made of glass. So it seemed from the sidewalk out front, rear, or side, looking up. So it seemed as one drove past it at a hundred kilometres an hour (or faster) on the Gardiner Expressway, hugging the curve of Lake Ontario, swerving past the SkyDome (Rogers Centre) and the CN Tower.
Lo. Behold. A building made of glass.
But it wasn’t, of course. The base architecture was concrete, driven deep, seven storeys of underground parking, then a spine of iron, a dozen, two dozen, three, four, five dozen storeys tall. The rest of the guts fitted out with drywall, wood trim, copper wire, plastic plumbing, synthetic carpet, a hundred carcinogenic chemicals—you name it. Dog hair, dust, and fluff.
But the outside, it gleamed like titanium. A phallic mirror reflecting all light that reached it. The scorching sun. The weak, luminous moon. The LED street lamps reflecting off the rain-drenched motorway. Toronto in the twenty-first century: at night, a beacon on a lonely ancient lake, drainage pond from the last ice age. To the north, the crust of the city, the suburbs, malls, and highways, fields fallen fallow, children in basements, plugged into electronic devices. Explosions echoing. Raccoons digging. Commuter trains rumbling.
Joe sat by the window, his laptop on a thin aluminum table, his fingers placed gently, stationary, on the keys, and gazed across the light-filled landscape, shards of brightness competing for dominance, slicing and defining the sky, the corridors between buildings, the entire space and shape of all that Joe could see.
about the author
MICHAEL BRYSON has been writing short stories, book reviews, and essays since the early 1990s. He grew up in Toronto’s east end, wandered the earth, then returned to live within blocks of the Danforth with his wife and stepchildren. He founded the online literary magazine The Danforth Review in 1999, interviewed dozens of authors, and published four collections of short fiction. He blogs at The Underground Book Club and sometimes tweets. Visit his website at www.michaelbryson.com.
from the library
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
Father Michael, in his final assignment, has been asked by his Order to help facilitate recovery of an Asian country blighted by war. On the long odyssey into the interior, his driver and translator Trang tells him a story set in a once-famed traveller’s refuge known as the Inn of Tender Embraces. What starts as a simple tale of ill-fated lovers becomes, for Father Michael, a familiar beacon that guides him through the mists of an exotic landscape.
“Don McLellan is the kind of wise, well-travelled writer we don’t see much of these days. With Angels Passing he earns the right to be included in the exotic tradition of Hemingway, Maugham, and Graham Greene. Like all memorable writing, his story takes us to another world and holds us there. As spare and subtle as it is powerful, Angels Passing will linger in your mind long after the last page.”
— John Lekich, Governor General’s Award Finalist for The Losers’ Club
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.
Catherine wants what Richard has: a richly decorated house, and a perfect, lavished-upon baby. Catherine also wants Richard: a disaffected diplomat whose true passion is for cinema. But Catherine is only the babysitter, and her envy—and its fallout—come to the fore when Richard is accused of a crime, and she must decide whether to help exonerate him.
“Laure Baudot’s prose is exquisite, patient, and sophisticated. In the Afternoon immerses you in the fascinating and complicated mind of a babysitter who is wise beyond her years, yet dangerously impulsive at the same time. This story is irresistible and heartbreaking.”
— Sarah Selecky, author of the 2010 Giller Prize–shortlisted collection This Cake Is for the Party
In the rugged Nepisiguit River region of northern New Brunswick, two hunters face off. One is local sports lodge employee Danny Knockwood, a Mi’gmaw guide with a withered hand. The other is Mui’n, a one-eared black bear battling his inexorable hunger. When Danny is charged by the lodge owner to hunt down the bear that is frightening guests at the salmon pools, his personal values come into sharp conflict with his commitment to the task. The resulting confrontation tests both his physical strength and his beliefs, as Danny begins to recognize a kindred spirit within the fiercely determined bear.
June's mother is getting married and there's nothing June can do about it. Counting down the days to the wedding while trapped with a sort-of friend and unwanted family-to-be at their lakeside cottage in the Kawarthas, June searches desperately for a way to make the world - and her life - stand still.
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