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Fiction Short Stories (single Author)

Some Extremely Boring Drives

by (author) Marguerite Pigeon

NeWest Press
Initial publish date
Sep 2014
Short Stories (single author), Contemporary Women, Literary
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2014
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Sep 2012
    List Price

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Shortlisted for the 2015 ReLit Award for Short Fiction!
Shortlisted for the 2015 Trade Fiction Book Award at the Alberta Book Publishing Awards!

From the multi-talented author of Inventory and Open Pit comes a new collection of short stories, filled with lost souls drifting through exotic locales, reinventing themselves on the fly.

Marguerite Pigeon's gifts for quick characterization and muscular dialogue are on full display in this collection, where you will encounter competitors in an endurance race at the edge of the world; the secret lives of stray cats, and those who try to catch them night after night; an interview with a once-famous musician who seems to be losing touch with reality; a date in Mexico City that ends in a kidnapping; a woman who comes face to face with her mirror image and finds that she's taken another path; and a girl who's determined to never, ever stand still again.

About the author

Marguerite Pigeon is a former journalist and traveller turned writer of fiction and poetry. In 2001 she lived for several months near the Honduran-Salvadoran border working with a local indigenous organization, an experience that became the inspiration for Open Pit. She later attended UBC’s Creative Writing MFA program. Since graduating, her short stories and poems have appeared in journals throughout Canada and internationally, and her first book of poetry, Inventory (Anvil 2009), was nominated for the Gerald Lampert Award. Originally from Blind River, Ontario, she currently lives in Vancouver.

Open Pit is her first novel.


Marguerite Pigeon's profile page


  • Short-listed, ReLit Award for Short Fiction
  • Short-listed, Trade Fiction Book Award at the Alberta Book Publishing Awards

Excerpt: Some Extremely Boring Drives (by (author) Marguerite Pigeon)

Excerpt from Locks

The cancer drugs stole my hair. Plucked me naked. What's grown back is like a message spelled out millimetre by millimetre: I'm not who I thought I was. A redhead. Whimsical. Someone whose nickname could be Pumpkin. The new crop, near black and coarse, is all business. Each follicle mocks me, says, "Red, schmed!" then pushes out its dark strand. I hate it even more than I hated being bald.

"I just love it," says my hairdresser, Li, who is always ready to lie in the name of hair. I return to her hydraulic chair after an eternity of illness without the hurrah I imagined would follow me in like a whirlwind, little bells above the door heralding Crystal Gayle, Rapunzel, Goldilocks. Reality is more subtle: pipedin adult contemporary, an enviable scatter of tufts on the floor, stubborn mirrors conspiring to show me a swollen, pallid version of my true self with two inches of the dreaded dark hair.

"I'm thinking highlights," says Li. She uses a voice like many acquaintances do now, intended not to further disrupt my brittle bones. I feel I am being spoken to from very far away. Li opens her fingers into a splay and runs them abruptly through the rough mass several times, alternating hands, like her palms are planes taking off from the crown of my head.

"Or more sophisticated," she says, reassessing, reading something in the tussle. "Back to red, maybe."

"No. Not red." I'm thinking about my husband, the first time he ever loosened the red bun I used to like to wear low on the nape like a tomato. The image gets blurred by self-pity, so I shake it away.

"Blonde," I say. "White-blonde, like snow."

Li's hands come out of my hair, pause palms down. My head could be a drum she will play. Her shocked silence lasts a long time and I feel oddly ashamed to be undergoing yet another evaluation.

"Blonde's always big," she finally agrees, with gumption. "It'll refresh you."

My treatment schedule resulted in my sometimes seeing the same people at the cancer centre. Like this one old woman--lungs, Stage 3--who knit incessantly. She was Estonian. So said the nurses, who all loved her positive attitude and the patterned mittens she would give out to anyone who wanted them. This woman would wheeze and wheeze while her needles went click-click, click-click, contentedly stitching away her life. A goddamned swan song in patterned double-knits. I would turn the volume up high on my iPod and look away, feeling rage, like boiling water, pouring through my insides. I wished I could take those knitting needles and stab the old woman's heart. Stab my nurses. Stab the tube that was feeding me poison so that the liquid exploded out. One time, when my iPod battery died and I was feeling suffocated by the needlework two chairs down, I finally snapped. "For God sakes!" I yelled at the old woman. "Will you please can it?" One nurse who'd never liked me put a finger to her lips in a violent shushing gesture. Without thinking, I flipped her the bird and laughed, even though I knew it wasn't funny. I turned to look at the old woman. She was facing resolutely away from me. Her forearms had fallen against her sides. The needles and wool webbing were plopped on her belly in a vanquished red and green pile. She sniffled a while, her shoulders heaving, then began to snore. I watched her irregular breathing, couldn't look away for the satisfaction it gave me. Mind you, I always looked to that side--away from the arm getting the drip. But still.

"You won't want me to stay just because of all that's happened. I know that much." He said this not long after I was finally home for good. I guess my husband was so used to speaking to people on my behalf, he'd begun to confuse his will with my own. We were sitting at the kitchen table, where I once pictured myself sitting for life. He'd brought home takeout Thai.

"You never liked this neighbourhood anyway," he said, trying to be lighthearted.

"I like the library."

"Hmm," he said disapprovingly. "Look, we'll wait till you've found your feet, but you won't want this to drag on forever."

"I want this to drag on forever."

He put his face in his hands and started to cry while I went on eating. All the crying of that period! It was epidemic. But the food was delicious. I liked the sweet and the spicy together. I loved the lime. The surface of things did matter, I thought. Taste. Touch. Appearances. The semblance of normal life was my ticket back to the world of the living. This new woman, "clean" of cancer, released from the pen of hospital and chemo, needed a husband. At any cost.

Editorial Reviews

Praise for Some Extremely Boring Drives:
"To use "boring" in a book title takes confidence, to add "extremely" may seem brash, but Marguerite Pigeon deserves to be cocky in naming her first collection of stories."
~ Jade Colbert, Globe and Mail
"Each story reveals a peculiar and unique world peopled by genuinely interesting inhabitants."
~ Dana Hansen, Quill & Quire
"Driven to extremes, each of Pigeon's characters is stripped of the coping mechanism that has kept them moving forward; when they're jolted out of the trance of the ordinary, we don't know which way they'll go, or even if they will survive. But one thing is certain--they will never be the same."
~ Kristine Morris, Foreword Reviews
"A robust collection that is memorable from the first page to its last ... [w]ith a book of poetry, a novel, and now this collection of short stories, Pigeon has proven herself a writer of many talents, and one worthy of our attention."
~ Jessica Rose, Room Magazine
"Where the characters are going and whether they are in control is debatable but they're always behind the wheel, zipping through diverse landscapes without a GPS. Pigeon lures the reader into the backseat with all the tension and anticipation of a road trip without the "are we there yets?"
~ Ali Bryan, author of Roost
"Marguerite Pigeon's stories bore through the everyday to those pockets where the best story-stuff hides. She captures her characters as they're driven to extremes, in the sparkling, miserable moments between ordinary and ordinary."
~ Naomi K. Lewis, author of I Know Who You Remind Me Of

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