With wit and sensitivity, these tales portray moments of suffering, confusion and discovery. Also, the reader is introduced to a wide variety of worlds, worlds that reveal Abray's deep understanding of how people engage with-and become obsessed by-activities such as Japanese kite-making, bees, daycare, alcohol, and motorcycle maintenance. How does the activity reveal the person? How the problem? Abray's stories push full-on into the world of obsessions. A new vacuum cleaner becomes a new pawn in a just-ended relationship. Riding-a-motorbike becomes the way brothers bond over their troubled relationship with their father. A wise naturalist takes the reader on a comic tour of an animal-filled mall, and a bee infestation in a kitchen forces three urban apartment-sharing youths to suddenly confront nature and their own changing relationship. Yes: in these stories, Tom Abray shows us how every human activity becomes a metaphor: for self-revelation, and for relationships that range from romantic to familial.
After growing up near Strathroy, Ontario, Tom Abray has now lived in Montreal for twenty years. He has been writing fiction and poetry since he was a teenager, and more recently he has tried his hand at filmmaking. For the past ten years, he has taught English at John Abbott College.
'Also among the more interesting pieces are a couple of short vignettes that stray from conventional narrative approaches in favour of different, lyrical, or absurdist registers, like Wendy, Field Guide with its nonsense natural history and Snow with its paranoid voyeurism, and the longer tale, Swarm certainly a contender for the books high point which closes the collection. Using the elaborately sustained trope of a swarm of bees invading an apartment, Swarm shows a good touch and moments of real psychological sensitivity in its impressionistic look at the relationships shared by a trio of roommates.' -- MRB 2012