You asked me just now for the truth– well, the truth about any girl is that once she’s talked about she’s done for; and the more she explains her case the worse it looks. (bk. 2, ch. 4)
From Wharton, Edith. The House of Mirth. Saybrook, Connecticut: Tantor, 2008. Audio.
It was only to be expected that after a year or two Flinksy would have saved enough to buy some new clothes, and the natural consequence of being in style, or at least not altogether drab and shabby, was that she should start going out in the evening a little more. This was the period during which she was given the name Flinksy (“Wild One”), as pathetically undeserved a nickname as ever a sober-minded young puritan female was saddled with; but in our fiercely critical and self-righteous family, any little outburst of sociability or romance was always pounced on and rudely labelled by one or other of us as a major fault of character. (64-65)
From Janes, Percy. House of Hate. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1970. Print.
Grief they loved, wore it in white lace over cotton and starched collars with bow ties, mauve dresses smoothed over regal behinds and Chantilly hats tipped to the side over ironed hair, black serge over six-foot legs and close-cut brilliantined hair under black number-six headband hats. They loved grief and spent every penny on it and thought it made them holy, they had each a parched well inside their chests, sacred and hungry, they went to funerals of people they did not know, they stood at grave sides looking into the despair of the mourners, their eyes became ashy with passion. They expected peril, listened for it at the window on nights without lamp oil, sat at the open door in the seven o’ clock dust and tried to make out its figure loitering or coming, affirming “hmm hmmmm” when it moved towards them; they beckoned it, sure that it was lurking, looked for it over their shoulder, their eyes only opened to see it, they stroked it, they prepared for it, laid a place for it at table. They were so vigilant they helped it by making laws they themselves could not live by; they scanned the unformed scars on their cocoa-picking, seine-pulling, cane-cutting, rum-drinking hands; they scanned the scarless flesh of their new born and wrote peril there because peril was all they were familiar with. (124)
From Brand, Dionne. In Another Place, Not Here. Toronto: Vintage Canada, 1997. Print.
My story “Catfood” (another Twin Phantoms excerpt) appears in the first issue of Understorey Magazine. Many thanks to editor Katherine J. Barrett, who approached me for a submission after my WFNS Mentorship reading.
Mum was up smoking at the window. Tapping ashes into the sink. Nini’s dead, I told her. I put her last bottle of blueberry jam on the table.
Mum took straight off past me with her cigarette. Cross the gravel in bare feet like God said it, not me. So I set about making toast on the stove and took mum’s spot at the window, watched her circle ’round to Aunt Nini’s porch door. Bout twelve when I found her. Nancy was her right name.
From Gilroy, Corinne. “Catfood.” Understorey Mag. 1.1 (2013): n. pag. Web. 8 Dec. 2013.
Everyone becomes who they are in a stark landscape of undiluted solitude and bad weather. It’s possible to go through life without becoming who you are, but it is better, in the long run, to come upon yourself in an insanely ordered forest where nothing is left to chance.
From Moore, Lisa. Alligator. New York: Grove/Atlantic, 2006. 144. Print.
That woman had bolted up from the bed. She was staggering towards us, breasts eye-like, alive. (62)
From Berger, Tamara Faith. Maidenhead. Toronto: Coach House, 2012. EPUB file.
An audience member approached me after my reading last week to recommend The Mountain and the Valley by Ernest Buckler. The narrator’s perspective jumps around at a frustrating pace (Whose head am I in? Whose head am I in now?), but Buckler’s prose is glorious and wise.
“A girl couldn’t go way back there, Anna,” he said. Then it came to him how awful it was when the others said something reasonable like that to him, and Anna helpless to argue even, as he did. (26)
From Buckler, Ernest. The Mountain and the Valley. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1961. Print.
I recently “graduated” from the Writers’ Federation of Nova Scotia‘s Mentorship Program. Today, I had the opportunity to read an excerpt from my manuscript to WFNS members. I’m hoping to complete my draft by the end of the summer. Endless thanks to my mentor, Stephens Gerard Malone, and Sue Goyette, the force of nature behind the program.
[Late summer 1964] Through another rock cut and that leg was over. Ed felt the throttle pulling back slowly, brakes cutting in against momentum, the weight of his body creeping ahead in his seat.
This station was like a castle. The train nestled up next to it, next to a high stone wall on one side, in close to smooth platforms on the other. A hundred people easy, milling around in summer city clothes. Ed’s car was near empty until they crowded around and through the doors, blocked off the fresh rush of air with their bodies and suitcases.
God forgive him, Ed’s arms were still smeared with engine grease. He’d forgotten about cleaning up decent after the truck broke down. The pocket on his plaid shirt was torn half off. His pants could’ve been borrowed off a coal miner. The whole getup looked that much worse beside bright shirts, flowery dresses, straw hats and little woven purses. Didn’t surprise him a bit that the seat beside him stayed empty, empty, still empty, plenty of space for the dirty hick kid as everybody shuffled by. Continue reading Twin phantoms [self-promotion].
The gaols are full of blokes we’d swear are different to us. Only difference is, they did things you and me just thought about.
That’s still a big difference, said Rose.
Maybe. A second’s difference. (402)
From Winton, Tim. Cloudstreet. Camberwell, Victoria: Penguin Australia, 2007. Print.
The problem with choosing a provocative passage from The Age of Innocence is that the whole damn book is so thoroughly quotable and stirring.
“Women ought to be free — as free as we are,” he declared, making a discovery of which he was too irritated to measure the terrific consequences. (41)
Newland Archer, in: Wharton, Edith. The Age of Innocence. New York: Quality Paperback Book Club, 1993. Print.