Michael Paryla was found locked in his own apartment comatose from a mixture of milk, whiskey and sleeping pills. Now his distant cousin, Montreal-born Andrew Steinmetz, is trying to reconstruct his life.
When my father came back from Australia, he told me a story about koalas. He went to a petting zoo where a cheeky zookeeper attached two…
In issue 84 of Canadian Notes and Queries, Patricia Robinson addresses the literary trend of domestic realism in Canada. According to Robinson, our country suffers from a literary landscape that is overpopulated with stories (both short and long) of a certain readily recognizable type. They are stories that “have no resonance beyond the personal lives of their characters,” about people who “ruminate rather than act,” and focus largely on their sex lives, social missteps and sibling rivalries. Stories by Alice Munro and Norman Levine may immediately come to mind.
In his essay “The Monster Mash,” David Sedaris recalls, as a child, repeatedly exhuming the bodies of dead hamsters and guinea pigs. His motivation for grave-robbing? A genuine aesthetic interest in what his dead pets’ corpses looked like in various stages of decay. As gruesome that sounds, adolescent fascination with death is, as Sedaris points out, not all that uncommon. “At that age, death is something that happens only to animals and grandparents, and studying it is like a science project, the good kind that doesn’t involve homework.”
The stories in Cathy Stonehouse’s debut collection depict life as a series of sad, violent, and sometimes insane acts. Fittingly, they are populated by sad, violent, and sometimes insane characters. This is not uplifting, syrupy beach reading. Something About the Animal is a dark, often unsettling book that remains true to its own gloomy fictional universe.
But don’t let the dining room staff deter you. It’s what’s going on in the kitchen that will impress.
Alexander MacLeod can write. That was obvious even before his debut collection of stories made it onto the Giller Prize shortlist this fall. In his early…