In the thirteen stories that comprise Way Up, Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer's canvas stretches from downtown Toronto to isolated farms, from the Canadian Shield to Nova Scotia and Europe, and even into outer space. In "The Last Magic Forest," she turns her Gothic imagination loose in the bush of Northern Ontario, where tree planters have developed a unique culture. In this wasteland of clear-cutting and scarifying, the concept of "nature" overturns everything readers (and tree planters) expect. When Kuitenbrouwer takes a Canadian tree planter to Belgium in "What Had Become of Us," only the outer topography changes. In the superficially more cultivated European forest, the value and meaning of human life depends on the inner topography the forester brings with her from the Ontario bush. In other stories, Kuitenbrouwer's characters engage in a continual play with perspective, in a perpetual balancing act.
In an emotional spectrum ranging from corrosive grief to murderous recklessness, Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer's characters make — or fail to make — the constant adjustments necessary to stay fully human. By intention or accident, each character steps into a more comprehensible life or crosses into seductive darkness.
About the author
Critics described the stories in Way Up, Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer's first book of fiction, as "some of the most impressive examples of new Canadian fiction in recent memory." Published in 2003, Way Up received a Danuta Gleed Award and was a finalist for the Relit Award. The Nettle Spinner, her first novel, was shortlisted for the Amazon.ca/Books in Canada First Novel award and was also named a best of 2005 by January magazine. Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer is the former fiction editor of The Literary Review of Canada and has also worked as a tree-planter, a lumberjack, and a baker. Her reviews have appeared in The Globe and Mail, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Toronto Star, and The National Post. She teaches creative writing at the University of Toronto and is the Magazine Editor for Bookninja.com.
"We have lift-off ... [an] accomplished debut collection ... Typical of Kuitenbrouwer's secondary characters, Yves and Beatrice are substantial enough to fill out a story all by themselves ... galloping imagination and fearless thematic ambition ... tales work their unerring magic ... It's a huge pleasure watching her defy the usual literary gravity."
<i>Globe and Mail</i>