“This night in Oppenheimer Park Dan asked me to shit-kick this chick in the face as she owed money and I said no because I didn’t know who she was and I wasn’t about to play with fire so he sat on the bench then stood up and did a flying kick twice to her chin and she convulsed and passed out he said he didn’t want to spill blood because she had HIV…”
Dissecting herself and the life she once knew living a transient life that included time spent in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside as a bonafide drug addict, Blanchard writes plainly about violence, drug use and sex work in Fresh Pack of Smokes, offering insight into an often overlooked or misunderstood world.
“Amidst the overlooked overdose and poverty crises, Cassandra Blanchard’s debut Fresh Pack of Smokes is a literary cold water, splashed in readers’ faces to snap them out of cycles of misinformation and prejudice ... As she unravels her visceral stories of significant personal pain, she’s well-metered and unflinching, compact and forthright, making it impossible for readers not to question what they think they know.” ~ winter 2020 issue
“As a whole, Fresh Pack of Smokes exceeds itself. The commonplace yet visceral content and the uninhibited, casual tone across the collection foster a unique relationship between speaker and reader which, in my experience, underlines the importance and the responsibility of bearing witness.”