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Short Story Collections by Canadian Authors

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Bobcat and Other Stories

Bobcat and Other Stories

edition:Paperback

At turns heartbreaking and wise, tender and wry, Bobcat and Other Stories establishes Rebecca Lee as one of the most powerful and original voices in Canadian literature.

A university student on her summer abroad is offered the unusual task of arranging a friend's marriage. Secret infidelities and one guest's dubious bobcat-related injury propel a Manhattan dinner party to its unexpected conclusion. Students at an elite architecture retreat seek the wisdom of their revered mentor but end up learn …

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Hellgoing

Hellgoing

Stories
edition:Paperback
also available: eBook

Winner of the 2013 Scotiabank Giller Prize.

Shortlisted for the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize. Selected as an Amazon.ca Best Book and for The Globe's Top 10 Books of 2013.

With astonishing range and depth, Scotiabank Giller Prize winner Lynn Coady gives us nine unforgettable new stories, each one of them grabbing our attention from the first line and resonating long after the last.

A young nun charged with talking an anorexic out of her religious fanaticism toys with the thin distance betwee …

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Wilderness Tips

Wilderness Tips

edition:Paperback
also available: Paperback
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Here are brilliantly rendered stories that explore themes of loss and discovery, of the gap between youthful dreams and mature reality, of how we connect with others and with the sometimes hidden part of ourselves.

In each of these tales Margaret Atwood deftly illuminates the single instant that shapes a whole life: in a few brief pages we watch as characters progress through the passions of youth into the precarious complexities of middle age. By superimposing the past on the present Atwood pain …

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This Cake is for the Party

This Cake is for the Party

Stories
edition:Paperback
also available: eBook

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 negl …

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Too Much Happiness

Too Much Happiness

edition:Hardcover
also available: Paperback

An international literary event: Ten new stories from a beloved and award-winning author.

This stunning collection of new stories demonstrates once again why Alice Munro is celebrated as a pre-eminent master of the short story. While some of the stories are traditional, set in “Alice Munro Country” in Ontario or in B.C., dealing with ordinary women’s lives, others have a new, sharper edge. They involve child murders, strange sex, and a terrifying home invasion. By way of astonishing variety …

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Excerpt

Wenlock Edge
 
My mother had a bachelor cousin who used to visit us on the farm once a summer. He brought along his mother, Aunt Nell Botts. His own name was Ernie Botts. He was a tall, florid man with a good-natured expression, a big square face, and fair curly hair springing straight up from his forehead. His hands, his fingernails, were as clean as soap, and his hips were a little plump. My name for him—when he was not around—was Earnest Bottom. I had a mean tongue.
 
But I believed I meant no harm. Hardly any harm. After Aunt Nell Botts died he did not come anymore but sent a Christmas card.
 
When I went to university in London—that is in London, Ontario—where he lived, he started a custom of taking me out to dinner every other Sunday evening. It seemed to me that this was the sort of thing he would do, because I was a relative—he would not even have to consider whether we were suited to spending time together. He always took me to the same place, a restaurant called the Old Chelsea, which was upstairs, looking down on Dundas Street. It had velvet curtains, white tablecloths, little rose-shaded lamps on the tables. It probably cost more than he could afford, but I did not think of that, having a country girl's notion that all men who lived in cities, wore a suit every day, and sported such clean fingernails had reached a level of prosperity where indulgences like this were the usual thing.
 
I had the most exotic offering on the menu, such as chicken vol au vent or duck à l'orange, while he always ate roast beef. Desserts were wheeled up to the table on a dinner wagon. There was usually a tall coconut cake, custard tarts topped with out-of-season strawberries, chocolate-coated pastry horns full of whipped cream. I took a long time to decide, like a five-year-old with flavours of ice cream, and then on Monday I had to fast all day, to make up for such gorging.
 
Ernie looked a little too young to be my father. I hoped that nobody from the university would see us and think he was my boyfriend.
 
He inquired about my courses, and nodded seriously when I told him, or reminded him, that I was in Honours English and Philosophy. He didn't roll up his eyes at the information, the way people at home did. He told me that he had a great respect for education and regretted that he did not have the means to continue his own after high school. Instead, he had got a job working for the Canadian National railways, as a ticket salesman. Now he was a supervisor.
 
He liked serious reading, but it was not a substitute for a university education.
 
I was pretty sure that his idea of serious reading would be the Condensed Books of the Reader's Digest, and to get him off the subject of my studies I told him about my rooming house. In those days the college had no dormitories—we all lived in rooming houses or cheap apartments or fraternity or sorority houses. My room was the attic of an old house, with a large floor space and not much headroom. But being the former maid's quarters, it had its own bathroom. On the second floor were the rooms occupied by two other scholarship students, who were in their final year in Modern Languages. Their names were Kay and Beverly. In the high-ceilinged but chopped-up rooms downstairs lived a medical student, who was hardly ever home, and his wife, Beth, who was home all the time, because she had two very young children. Beth was the house manager and rent collector, and there was often a feud going on between her and the second-floor girls about how they washed their clothes in the bathroom and hung them there to dry. When the medical student was home he sometimes had to use that bathroom because of the baby stuff in the one downstairs, and Beth said he shouldn't have to cope with stockings in his face and a bunch of intimate doodads. Kay and Beverly retorted that use of their own bathroom had been promised when they moved in.
 
This was the sort of thing I chose to tell to Ernie, who flushed and said that they should have got it in writing.
 
Kay and Beverly were a disappointment to me. They worked hard at Modern Languages, but their conversation and preoccupations seemed hardly different from those of girls who might work in banks or offices. They did their hair up in pin curls and painted their fingernails on Saturdays, because that was the night they had dates with their boyfriends. On Sundays they had to soothe their faces with lotion because of the whisker-burns the boyfriends had inflicted on them. I didn't find either boyfriend in the least desirable, and I wondered how they could.
 
They said that they had once had some crazy idea of being translators at the United Nations, but now they figured they would teach high school, and with any luck get married.
 
They gave me unwelcome advice.
 
I had got a job in the college cafeteria. I pushed a cart around collecting dirty dishes off the tables and wiped the tables clean when they were empty. And I set out food to be picked up from the shelves.
 
They said that this job was not a good idea.
 
"Boys won't ask you out if they see you at a job like that."
 
I told Ernie this, and he said, "So, what did you say?"
 
I told him that I had said I would not want to go out with anybody who would make such a judgment, so what was the problem?
 
Now I'd hit the right note. Ernie glowed; he chopped his hands up and down in the air.
 
"Absolutely right," he said. "That is absolutely the attitude to take. Honest work. Never listen to anybody who wants to put you down for doing honest work. Just go right ahead and ignore them. Keep your pride. Anybody that doesn't like it, you tell them they can lump it."
 
This speech of his, the righteousness and approval lighting his large face, the jerky enthusiasm of his movements, roused the first doubts in me, the first gloomy suspicion that the warning, after all, might have some weight to it.

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Alice Munro's Best

Alice Munro's Best

Selected Stories
by Alice Munro
introduction by Margaret Atwood
edition:Hardcover

In her lengthy and fascinating introduction Margaret Atwood says “Alice Munro is among the major writers of English fiction of our time. . . . Among writers themselves, her name is spoken in hushed tones.”

This splendid gift edition is sure to delight Alice Munro’s growing body of admirers, what Atwood calls her “devoted international readership.” Long-time fans of her stories will enjoy meeting old favourites, where their new setting in this book may reveal new sides to what once seeme …

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Excerpt

From “Differently”

Georgia got a part-time job in a bookstore, working several evenings a week. Ben went away on his yearly cruise. The summer turned out to be unusually hot and sunny for the West Coast. Georgia combed her hair out and stopped using most of her makeup and bought a couple of short halter dresses. Sitting on her stool at the front of the store, showing her bare brown shoulders and sturdy brown legs, she looked like a college girl — clever but full of energy and bold opinions. The people who came into the store liked the look of a girl — a woman — like Georgia. They liked to talk to her. Most of them came in alone. They were not exactly lonely people, but they were lonely for somebody to talk to about books. Georgia plugged in the kettle behind the desk and made mugs of raspberry tea. Some favored customers brought in their own mugs. Maya came to visit and lurked about in the background, amused and envious.

“You know what you’ve got?” she said to Georgia. “You’ve got a salon! Oh, I’d like to have a job like that! I’d even like an ordinary job in an ordinary store, where you fold things up and find things for people and make change and say thank you very much, and colder out today, will it rain?”

“You could get a job like that,” said Georgia.

“No, I couldn’t. I don’t have the discipline. I was too badly brought up. I can’t even keep house without Mrs. Hanna and Mrs. Cheng and Sadie.”

It was true. Maya had a lot of servants, for a modern woman, though they came at different times and did separate things and were nothing like an old-fashioned household staff. Even the food at her dinner parties, which seemed to show her own indifferent touch, had been prepared by someone else.

Usually, Maya was busy in the evenings. Georgia was just as glad, because she didn’t really want Maya coming into the store, asking for crazy titles that she had made up, making Georgia’s employment there a kind of joke. Georgia took the store seriously. She had a serious, secret liking for it that she could not explain. It was a long, narrow store with an old-fashioned funnelled entryway between two angled display windows. From her stool behind the desk Georgia was able to see the reflections in one window reflected in the other. This street was not one of those decked out to receive tourists. It was a wide east-west street filled in the early evening with a faintly yellow light, a light reflected off pale stucco buildings that were not very high, plain storefronts, nearly empty sidewalks. Georgia found this plainness liberating after the winding shady streets, the flowery yards and vine-framed windows of Oak Bay. Here the books could come into their own, as they never could in a more artful and enticing suburban bookshop. Straight long rows of paperbacks. (Most of the Penguins then still had their orange-and-white or blue-and-white covers, with no designs or pictures, just the unadorned, unexplained titles.) The store was a straight avenue of bounty, of plausible promises. Certain books that Georgia had never read, and probably never would read, were important to her, because of the stateliness or mystery of their titles. In Praise of Folly. The Roots of Coincidence. The Flowering of New England. Ideas and Integrities.
Sometimes she got up and put the books in stricter order. The fiction was shelved alphabetically, by author, which was sensible but not very interesting. The history books, however, and the philosophy and psychology and other science books were arranged according to certain intricate and delightful rules — having to do with chronology and content — that Georgia grasped immediately and even elaborated on. She did not need to read much of a book to know about it. She got a sense of it easily, almost at once, as if by smell.

At times the store was empty, and she felt an abundant calm. It was not even the books that mattered then. She sat on the stool and watched the street — patient, expectant, by herself, in a finely balanced and suspended state.

She saw Miles’ reflection — his helmeted ghost parking his motorcycle at the curb — before she saw him. She believed that she had noted his valiant profile, his pallor, his dusty red hair (he took off his helmet and shook out his hair before coming into the store), and his quick, slouching, insolent, invading way of moving, even in the glass.

It was no surprise that he soon began to talk to her, as others did. He told her that he was a diver. He looked for wrecks, and lost airplanes, and dead bodies. He had been hired by a rich couple in Victoria who were planning a treasure-hunting cruise, getting it together at the moment. Their names, the destination were all secrets. Treasure-hunting was a lunatic business. He had done it before. His home was in Seattle, where he had a wife and a little daughter.

Everything he told her could easily have been a lie.

He showed her pictures in books — photographs and drawings, of mollusks, jellyfish, the Portuguese man-of-war, sargasso weed, the Caribbean flying fish, the girdle of Venus. He pointed out which pictures were accurate, which were fakes. Then he went away and paid no more attention to her, even slipping out of the store while she was busy with a customer. Not a hint of a goodbye. But he came in another evening, and told her about a drowned man wedged into the cabin of a boat, looking out the watery window in an interested way. By attention and avoidance, impersonal conversations in close proximity, by his oblivious prowling, and unsmiling, lengthy, gray-eyed looks, he soon had Georgia in a disturbed and not disagreeable state. He stayed away two nights in a row, then came in and asked her, abruptly, if she would like a ride home on his motorcycle.

Georgia said yes. She had never ridden on a motorcycle in her life. Her car was in the parking lot; she knew what was bound to happen.

She told him where she lived. “Just a few blocks up from the beach,” she said.

“We’ll go to the beach, then. We’ll go and sit on the logs.”

That was what they did. They sat for a while on the logs. Then, though the beach was not quite dark or completely deserted, they made love in the imperfect shelter of some broom bushes. Georgia walked home, a strengthened and lightened woman, not in the least in love, favored by the universe.

“My car wouldn’t start,” she told the baby-sitter, a grandmother from down the street. “I walked all the way home. It was lovely, walking. Lovely. I enjoyed it so much.”

Her hair was wild, her lips were swollen, her clothes were full of sand.

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Dear Life

Dear Life

Stories
edition:Hardcover
also available: Paperback

With her peerless ability to give us the essence of a life in often brief but spacious and timeless stories, Alice Munro illumines the moment a life is shaped -- the moment a dream, or sex, or perhaps a simple twist of fate turns a person out of his or her accustomed path and into another way of being. Suffused with Munro's clarity of vision and her unparalleled gift for storytelling, these stories (set in the world Munro has made her own: the countryside and towns around Lake Huron) about depar …

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