Stirred by a series of found photographs, critically acclaimed author Cary Fagan brilliantly imagines the lost stories behind them in this dazzling story collection.
Many years ago the photographs in this book became separated from their original owners, faces unrecognized, settings a mystery. They floated through this world, as if on a sorrowful wind… I have given them stories to replace the ones they have lost.
So begins the bewitching new collection from acclaimed author Cary Fagan, and a journey into a world that is both achingly familiar and wonderfully strange. A man hangs onto a runaway horse. A woman paints in the nude. A child sparks a revolution. These stories, each inspired by a found photograph, are by turns realistic and surreal, bloody and tender, delightful and appalling.
Here are stories that playfully vary in technique and form: monologues, dialogues, interviews, letters, transcripts, tall tales, and capsule histories form a single portrait, belonging — in the words of the author — “to one history, found in an album that might belong to any of us.” Fagan paints a portrait of re-imagined lives that is comic and tragic, profound and unforgettable. The beauty, humour, and the horror of days gone by haunt these pages and resonate in the world we find ourselves in today.
About the author
Acclaimed author CARY FAGAN is beloved by adults and children alike. His books include the popular Kaspar Snit novels, and Jacob Two-Two on the High Seas; Thing-Thing was a finalist for the Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award and the TD Canadian Children's Literature Award and made the Globe and Mail and Quill & Quire Best Books of the Year lists. He has won numerous other awards including the Jewish Book Award and the World Storytelling Award, and has twice had honour books in the Silver Birch Award. Visit him at www.caryfagan.com
Excerpt: The Old World and Other Stories: And Other Stories (by (author) Cary Fagan)
It was the first adult party I ever held, although we weren’t really adults, not quite. It was the end of high school, when everything would change and we all knew it and so I desperately wanted to mark it in some way — not by getting drunk at the lake, or racing in some boy’s car, or just with the graduation ceremony and the dance that would follow.
I wanted a party of my own, where people would act civilized and talk about interesting things and see in ourselves the women and men we were about to become.
At least that’s how I see it now, all these decades later, when I’d be surprised if a stranger could look at me and see the girl I was then. I wanted a new pretty hairstyle and shoes with heels and to greet people at the door and play records and eat finger sandwiches and say “Do you remember five years ago when we were kids?” and “I think politics is a worthwhile career” and “Don’t you agree that Nat King Cole was a better pianist than a singer?” I wanted to make a list of who I wanted to come, and who I felt obliged to ask, and revise it over and over, and spend evenings sewing my new dress with my mother nearby to help with the hard parts. I wanted to spend the afternoon of the party in the kitchen with my two best friends, Matilda and Elizabeth, cutting up celery and making dips and laughing as we spread icing on the cake that would be cut into squares. I wanted to beg my father to let us have punch, something with a little alcohol in it, and he would pretend to be scandalized (as if he didn’t know that everyone drank) but finally give in and then insist on making it himself because nobody could possibly make punch like he could.
And I wanted every moment, every second of the party, to be vivid and alive and for it to go past midnight when my friends would help me clean up and then Dad would drive them home and after I would lie in bed, absolutely unable to sleep, smiling about something I said, or somebody else said, or how that drink got spilled and people bent to clean it up and how grown up everyone acted and how full my heart was, not with being scared as it had been for weeks now but with a most wonderful, wonderful feeling.