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
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
A hybrid travelogue and memoir that pieces together the fragmented recollections of one woman’s rocky journey toward vegetarianism. From her rural upbringing in francophone Northeastern Ontario to exotic locations, outlandish adventures, and bizarre meals, Julie relives her struggle to make the right food choices for herself and examines the consequences of her decisions.
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.
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 undergoing a cosmetic treatment to recover her lost youth, a middle-aged woman finds herself reconnected to her alienated daughter - a young woman still searching for her own path in life - in an unexpected and incredible way. A modern-day fable from two-time Scotiabank Giller Prize nominee Pauline Holdstock.
“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
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
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'.