Sunday, December 19, 2010

This One's Going to Last Forever by Nairne Holtz

Contrary to the optimism of the title, the stories in this collection are mostly about the agonies of being in love. A wry wittiness keeps the tone light through most of the pieces, but there is enough depth to the characters to engage the reader's heart and provoke thoughtful responses. Some of the events and situations are downright serious, such as the massacre of 14 women in Montreal and a couple breaking up after one has her leg amputated.

Lesbians and bisexual women populate all of these stories, which take place in cities from Vancouver to Halifax. Canada's lesbian bars - Huis Clos in Montreal, the Lookout in Ottawa and the Robin's Nest in Cambridge - make appearances. The sex scenes are refreshingly frank; don't expect floral imagery and silken folds.

The very first story, When Gay Is the New Straight, is my favourite. A gay Elvis impersonator operates a drive-through wedding chapel in Sudbury. He's jaded and bitchy, even as he weds his first lesbian couple. "As I watch Nancy slip a silver band over Sylvie's finger, I think, Just Assimilated." Yet the story ends on a hopeful note, as they all do.

Readalikes: For more lesbian short stories, try Touchy Subjects by Emma Donoghue or All the Pretty Girls by Chandra Mayor. If you liked Holtz' novella-length piece, 'Are You Committed?' which makes up Part 2 of the collection, try Bottle Rocket Hearts by Zoe Whittall. Also, check out Holtz' excellent novel, The Skin Beneath, if you haven't already. Link through to Holtz' website to see her extensive online bibliography of Canadian lesbian literature.

No comments: