Did she say, at the beginning, that it rained every day? She was wrong. She misspoke. She didn't mean it.... No. It did not rain every day. But it rained for a hundred days, that year, which was enough--more than enough, even.
In prose by turn haunting and crystalline, Carellin Brooks' One Hundred Days of Rain enumerates an unnamed narrator's encounters with that most quotidian of subjects: rain. Mourning her recent disastrous breakup, the narrator must rebuild a life from the bottom up. As she wakes each day to encounter Vancouver's sky and city streets, the narrator notices that the rain, so apparently unchanging, is in fact kaleidoscopic. Her melancholic mood alike undergoes subtle variations that sometimes echo, sometimes contrast with her surroundings. Caught between the two poles of weather and mood, the narrator is not alone: whether riding the bus with her small child, searching for an apartment to rent, or merely calculating out the cost of meager lunches, the world forever intrudes, as both a comfort and a torment.
In elliptical prose reminiscent of Elizabeth Smart's beloved novel By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept, One Hundred Days of Rain exposes the inner-workings of a life that has come apart. Readers will engage with Brooks' poetic and playful constraint that unfolds chapter by chapter, where the narrator's compulsive cataloguing of rain's vicissitudes forms a kind of quiet meditation: an acknowledgement of the ongoing weight of sadness, the texture of it, and its composition--not only emotional weight, but also the weight of all the stupid little things a person deals with when they're rebuilding a life.
About the author
Carellin Brooks' earliest childhood memory of Wreck Beach is mostly of the arduous trek of four hundred odd steps that lead down to the beach. An inquisitive and adventurous 18–year–old, she later undertook the mission to find Wreck Beach but success eluded her: she walked around the point from Spanish Banks, getting as far as Tower Beach. Discovering and exploring what she now considers to be the best nude beach in the world would have to wait.
But not for too long. Upon returning from England where she completed a Master of Studies degree in English, she rediscovered what it was that had intrigued her about the beach in the first place: the unbridled idealism nestled within its natural beauty. Wreck Beach is one of Vancouver's least commercialized beaches, where concession stands, manmade swimimng pools and toilets with plumbing are nothing more than myths. It is this fantastic purity that continues to fascinate her, she says. The first time Brooks shed her clothes and swam in the nude, she recalls, was a "mystical experience. The day was perfect, sunny, glowing. It was heaven." Going to the beach is a respite from the fast–paced, commercial lifestyle that's packaged and sold to us daily. Lying in the hot sun, cooling off in the refreshing ocean, reliving the utopian moment of serenity, celebrating the landscape: these are only some of the experiences that she says whisk one's soul away from the chaos of city life.
Even so, she considers herself representative of the average beachgoer. Although Brooks is a great supporter of the work done by the Wreck Beach Preservation Society, her love affair with the beach is one that's highly personal, and not so much ideological. She visits the beach as often as time permits, simply to enjoy. Her favourite spot is the main beach because access to the ocean for swimming is best.
What else remains to be added to the Wreck Beach experience for Brooks? Now that Wreck Beach the book is complete, and she's attended the annual Polar Bear swim on New Year's Day, she has a new goal: to visit the beach each month of the year.
Praise for One Hundred Days of Rain:
A quiet and meditative book that reads like a mystery: How do we find ourselves--sometimes simultaneously--moving both toward and away from the things that matter to us most?
- Johanna Skibsrud, 2010 Scotiabank Giller Prize Winner for The Sentimentalists
Is there a worse city in which to suffer a vindictive, litigated break up than unrelentingly sodden Vancouver? In these one hundred intimate chapters, Carellin Brooks has convinced me no. Her forbearing heroine bikes through torrents, dodges puddles, keeps moving through bitterness and weather. Nobody, not even the rain, has such nerve.
-Caroline Adderson, author of Ellen in Pieces
Carellin Brooks' marvellous and brooding novel, sparking after yet another downpour, offers a natural history of rain and breakups. Just as snow-bound cultures have numerous words for different kinds of snow, so the Vancouverite requires many words and varied descriptions for rain. The exquisite descriptions of internal and external tensions are what capture here, what pierce and press the reader forward, j-walking through the tumbling language of rain, dodging in and out of the doorways of these short, sharp, shocked chapters. Carellin Brooks offers a loud and persistent rejoinder to the idea of "the pathetic fallacy": the internal and external do coalesce, and they do so at the apex of the most precise and revealing sentences I have read in years.
- Stephen Collis
"...a memorably profound and stylish portrait of love's complications." - Publishers' Weekly
"...a story of struggle and resilience. It's a tale of one woman's journey to find her way after losing so much, to make a place in this world for her and her son." - Worn Pages and Ink
"In 100 brief and rain-drenched chapters Brooks maps the painful distance from hope (romantic whispers of future anniversaries) to despair (police sirens, lawyers, court dates, loneliness). Between the two states, there's lots of introspection pursuing the age-old question: How did things go so very wrong?" - Brett Josef Grubisic for Daily Xtra