Finalist for the 2010 Scotiabank Giller Prize and longlisted for the 2010 Frank O’Connor Award
Sarah Selecky’s first book takes dead aim at a young generation of men and women who often set out with the best of intentions, only to have plans thwarted or hopes betrayed.
These are stories about friendships and relationships confused by unsettling tensions bubbling beneath the surface. A woman who plans to conceive ends up in the arms of her husband’s best friend; a man who baby-sits a neglected four-year-old ends up questioning his own dysfunctional relationship; a chance encounter at a gala event causes a woman to remember when she volunteered for a nightmarish drug-testing clinic; another woman discovers that her best friend who is about to get married has just had an affair; a young teenager tries to escape from her controlling father and finds an unexpected lover on a bus ride home; a wife tries to overcome her dying mother-in-law’s resistance to her marriage by revealing to her own strange aural stigmata; a friend tries to talk another friend out of dating her cheating ex-boyfriend; and a superstitious candle-maker confesses to a tempestuous relationship that implodes spectacularly.
Sarah Selecky is a talented young writer who evokes a generation teetering on the shoals of consumerism and ambiguous mores. Reminiscent of early Atwood, with echoes of Lisa Moore and Barbara Gowdy, these absorbing stories are about love and longing, stories that touch us in a myriad of subtle and affecting ways.
From the first page, This Cake buzzes with casually great dialogue, and in every story, on every page, Selecky meets the fundamental requirement that fiction be multitasking. Her alternately comic and serious stories are inventive and honest...
Selecky skillfully wrests devastation from its customary gloom of lamentation and regret, and bares its overwhelming beauty.
Selecky is skilled at sketching an entire scene with a few words, evoking big emotions that stay in the reader's mind long after the scene is over.
The characters are real. They are so effortlessly and quintessentially themselves, especially Laura, with her unique way of speaking. This story has been one of my favourite writing teachers.
...I loved it. I've discovered that I love certain books in different ways, and this one asked to be with me as though it were my blankie. This is one book I've clutched to my chest and felt close to... I'm having a really hard time trying to put words to the profundity of the experience... This Cake is an impressive, accomplished first collection from a very talented young author...a valuable addition to the Canadian literary scene. Whatever she's got coming next, I want a piece of it."
Selecky harbours deep affection for her characters, combined with effortless grace; there is truly not a weak link to be found. She has a keen ear for understated dialogue, and a gift for unusual description...
Compelling, clever and exceptionally crafted, This Cake really delivers.