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With astonishing range and depth, Scotiabank Giller Prize finalist Lynn Coady gives us eight unforgettable new stories, each one of them grabbing our attention from the first line and resonating long after the last.
A young nun charged with talking an anorexic out of her religious fanaticism toys with the thin distance between practicality and blasphemy. A strange bond between a teacher and a schoolgirl takes on ever deeper, and stranger, shapes as the years progress. A bride-to-be with a penchant for nocturnal bondage can’t seem to stop bashing herself up in the light of day.
Equally adept at capturing the foibles and obsessions of men and of women, compassionate in her humour yet never missing an opportunity to make her characters squirm, fascinated as much by faithlessness as by faith, Lynn Coady is quite possibly the writer who best captures what it is to be human at this particular moment in our history.
Against his will and his nature, the hulking Gordon Rankin (“Rank”) is cast as an enforcer, a goon—by his classmates, his hockey coaches, and especially his own “tiny,angry” father, Gordon Senior. Rank gamely lives up to his role—until tragedy strikes, using Rank as its blunt instrument. Escaping the only way he can, Rank disappears. But almost twenty years later he discovers that an old, trusted friend—the only person to whom he has ever confessed his sins—has published a novel mirroring Rank’s life. The betrayal cuts to the deepest heart of him, and Rank will finally have to confront the tragic true story from which he’s spent his whole life running away.
With the deep compassion, deft touch, and irreverent humour that have made her one of Canada’s best-loved novelists, Lynn Coady delves deeply into the ways we sanction and stoke male violence, giving us a large-hearted, often hilarious portrait of a man tearing himself apart in order to put himself back together.
Bridget Murphy is an unwed teenage mother who is seeking sanctuary in the psych ward of a Halifax children’s hospital. Apathetic and withdrawn, she struggles with depression after giving her baby up for adoption. But Bridget’s problems pale next to the other patients on her ward. There is Mona, the foul-mouthed rich kid, anorexics Kelly and Marie, and geeky, delusional Byron. Bridget observes the nightmarish, yet darkly humourous antics on the ward with a bemused detachment. At Christmas, Bridget is sprung from the hospital by her Uncle Albert. They return to her small Cape Breton town joining family and friends that make the psych ward inhabitants look like the poster children for mental health.
Bridget’s grandmother raves and prays from her bed, her father communicates in bellows punctuated by profanity and her mentally disabled Uncle Rollie spends his time making religious folk art to sell to tourists. Add to the mix her boozy friends…[more]