About the authors
Chandra Mayor is a Winnipeg poet and editor. She has worked with dark leisure, Contemporary Verse 2, and Prairie Fire. Her work is included in the Cyclops Review. Her first collection of poetry, August Witch, was released in Fall 2002.
Jon Paul Fiorentino
Jon Paul Fiorentino’s first novel is Stripmalling (ECW, 2009). His most recent book of poetry is The Theory of the Loser Class (Coach House Books, 2006). He is the author of the poetry book Hello Serotonin (Coach House Books, 2004) and the humour book Asthmatica (Insomniac Press, 2005). His most recent editorial projects are the anthologies Career Suicide! Contemporary Literary Humour (DC Books, 2003) and Post-Prairie — a collaborative effort with Robert Kroetsch, (Talonbooks, 2005).
Robert Kroetsch is a Canadian novelist, poet, and non-fiction writer. In his novel, The Words of My Roaring (1966), he began to use the tall tale rhetoric of prairie taverns. Both The Studhorse Man (1969), which won the Governor General’s Award, and Gone Indian (1973) call the conventions of realistic fiction hilariously into question.
In 2004, he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada.
CherryYikes. This story set in the mean streets of Winnipeg, apparently in the "skinhead scene" of the 1990's (I've never really paid enough attention to conclude we had a skinhead scene per se, but now that Mayor has brought it to my attention, I can certainly say, it's not a scene, I'd want to be a part of). The story is told by a young woman (teenaged likely) who is part of that scene, trapped in a world of drugs, violence, poverty and violence. I noticed that she does not give us her name (and I'm not sure whether we are to take her name as being Cherry, the title of the book or not) but even her abusive boyfriend does not refer to her by name (only "Baby") in the apologetic letters he writes to her after beating her up.
It's an ugly ugly story and frighteningly, Cherry (or whatever her name) becomes pregnant and decides (this time) to keep the baby. Neither she nor (and especially not) her murderous boyfriend is equipped to give this child anything like a good life. The end of the story gives us the faintest of hope that she may be able to escape the sort of life she leads - but only the faintest of hope.
And while I said this is an ugly story, the language of it is not. I actually loved reading the book for the language of it. I've never read any of the author's award winning poetry, but feel that I might just have to. The imagery throughout this book is startlingly vivid. The narrator describes Winnipeg as "hold[ing] you in its grey asphalt arms as you stumble home from the all night cafe, over bridges with railings like shattered teeth" and her own body after a night out, "blossom[ing] purple like an insomniac morning glory."
Being from Winnipeg, I could easily picture the seedy apartments on Langside and Ruby and the numerous other inner city streets upon which the narrator temporarily resides, as well as the welfare office near the Sals on Sherbook. It's definitely not a book I'd send to anyone wanting to know what life is like in Winnipeg because it is all too accurate.