Wednesday, January 6, 2010

postcard and other stories by Anik See

Six stories by Anik See (A Fork in the Road) make up this collection. The settings are unmistakably Canadian: Vancouver; Toronto; Calgary; and wilderness cabins near Ottawa and in the Rocky Mountain foothills. The language, too, is Canadian: "clicks" for "kilometres" and "T.O." for Toronto. They are about loneliness and regrets; searching for love and for meaningful connections with people.

A sleepless night is lyrically evoked: "The radiator clanks again, and a train passes on the tracks a few blocks away, and then everything is quiet, the kind of quiet where you think you can hear it all happening, all the things that have no sound. Minds working, persimmons turning sweet, fish breathing underwater, sleep." In the final story, "Postcard," the innovative use of white space on the page and experimental multiple narratives are also reminiscent of poetry.

The stories are told in first person. In the two that feature a male narrator, I was somewhat disconcerted by the gender switch, feeling like those stories would have worked better in a female (and therefore queer) voice. That is my only quibble, however. Altogether, they are as fresh as the scent of newly-chopped firewood and as polished as pebbles shining in the bed of a stream.

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