Alarming - edgy, often disturbing, and superbly written - these short stories illuminate the dark, troubled heart of human existence.
A young girl escapes the bonds of her abusive adopted mother. A woman does not leave her rotting apartment for over a month. A widower passes through his wife's garden for the first time. A cosmetician slowly destroys her family. Dark and compelling, Drying the Bones deftly explores the emotional lives of its characters with electrifying concision.
These stories need not rely on a trend or a label for their success: startling and cleverly crafted, they distinguish Sonik as one of Canada's finest up-and-coming writers in any category. She brandishes a unique ability to handle a surprisingly broad range of characters and settings, all with the same power to send shivers up your spine.
"Wow. Madeline Sonik's first collection of stories is an amazing debut. Twenty-five luminous, dense, provocative and heart-wrenching stories take readers all over the map of human emotion. And Sonik often manages the trip in a few short pages that pack a wallop to the solar plexus. . . . The stories have a gravity that belles their brevity. Often a story will appear to be cruising along in one direction and then - wham - whiplash as Sonik slams the reader into an excruciating forced aknowledgement of the vagaries of human existence. . . . Sonik's gift lies in seeing the multiplicity of reactions a person can have to any situation. . . . A short review cannot possibly do justice to this book. It has far too much excellent content and stunning writing - just go get it and read it."
-Candace Fertile, Victoria Times-Colonist
"This diverse collection of 25 short stories has something for everyone. None are predictable." -Beatrice Repp, Kimberly Daily Bulletin
"Madeline Sonik takes the reader into shadowy spaces. . . . Her writing ranges from edgy to elegant. Some of these pieces are more like anecdotes than stories in the truly developed sense. But all are original, in tone or theme or plot. As an example, "Johnny Pattern" is about a girl's crazy infatuation. Hardly a unique topic. But it is the way Sonik gets us inside the girl's head with breathless, rhythmical prose littered with exclamation marks that makes the story sizzle. . . . Sonik is an intelligent writer, capable of pulling off the innovative angles she attempts in several, though not all, of her stories. She enlightens, rather than entertains." -Virginia Aulin, Room of One's Own
"It is Sonik's firm grounding of stories in a single image that distinguishes her from most other fiction writers . . . Sonik's stories assume a refreshing variety of tones. . . The detachment of the narrators is curiously uplifting, for the conflicts they face, while totally unresolved on a human level, are in fact subject to an aesthetic resolution through the humour employed... I would highly recommend Sonik to readers of fiction - and surely that recommendation must have something to do with originality. . . so polished that I feel as though I were looking through clear glass into a world more real than my own."
-John Fell, The Antigonish Review
"The praise on the cover from none other than Susan Musgrave is warranted. These stories are strong, their language poetic. Lines such as "It left a taste in the mind" used to describe a dancer's erotic act stand out for me as a very apt description of anticipated desire. I also recommend the story "Homesick" about a girl in a psych ward. Many if not all of the stories in this collection deal with dysfunctional families and while the dysfunctional family narrative is all the rage in contemporary Canadian fiction, these particular stories do stand out."
-Jeffrey Mackie, Broken Pencil
"this is a collection of industrial, global stigmata that are revealed under raking light." -Stuart Sillars, Canadian Literature