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Canadian Loan Stars for May and June 2017
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Canadian Loan Stars for May and June 2017

By kileyturner
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Loan Stars recently turned 1! Loan Stars is a program that allows library staff across Canada to collaboratively select their favourite forthcoming adult titles. Here are the Canadian books from the Loan Stars lists for May and June.*
The Substitute

The Substitute

edition:Paperback
also available: eBook

Warren Botts is a disillusioned Ph.D., taking a break from his lab to teach middle-school science. Gentle, soft-spoken, and lonely, he innocently befriends Amanda, one of his students. But one morning, Amanda is found dead in his backyard, and Warren, shocked, flees the scene.

As the small community slowly turns against him, an anonymous narrator, a person of extreme intelligence and emotional detachment, offers insight into events past and present. As the tension builds, we gain an intimate unde …

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If Found...Please Return to Elise Gravel

If Found...Please Return to Elise Gravel

edition:Hardcover
tagged :

Welcome to the charming world of cartoonist Elise Gravel's notebook, where her imagination runs wild with creatures of all shapes and sizes In the outrageously amusing If Found?Please Return to Elise Gravel, Elise Gravel offers readers a sneak peek into her sketchbook, where colorful monsters, imaginary friends, a grumpy things reign supreme. Meet Donald, who sings off-key; Francine, who likes to eat stones; and Marvin, the man with lots of stuff in his beard. Mixing the real with the fantastica …

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The Party

The Party

A Novel

Robyn Harding’s domestic drama, hailed as “tense and riveting” by Megan Miranda, New York Times bestselling author of All the Missing Girls, explores the aftermath of a sweet sixteen birthday party that goes horribly awry, as the members of a wealthy family in San Francisco find their picture-perfect life unraveling, their darkest secrets revealed, and their friends turned to enemies.

One invitation. A lifetime of regrets.

Sweet sixteen. It’s an exciting coming-of-age, a milestone, and …

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Please Proceed to the Nearest Exit

Please Proceed to the Nearest Exit

edition:Paperback

In the tradition of Miriam Toews's A Complicated Kindness, Mona Awad's 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl, and Marjorie Celona's Y, and set against the shadow of the Vietnam War and the changing social mores of 1970s America, a sharply comic novel that follows the tumultuous coming of age of both a mother and daughter, at a time when womanhood itself was coming of age.
We're all just one bad decision away from disaster. For as long as 14-year-old Robin Fisher can remember, she has lived by her in …

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Excerpt

This will probably come as a surprise to many, but not once in all the time that I knew her did Carol Closter ask me if I believed in God. She simply assumed I did, the way I once assumed that everyone listened to the Carpenters. Which isn't to say that I didn't believe in God, only that I didn't believe in Carol's God. Back then, my God was a sort of Santa Claus, a kindly robed hippie who went around granting good grades and sweet-sixteen convertibles. But, like I said, in the two years that I knew her, Carol Closter never asked and I never offered. If I reached spiritual enlightenment by listening to "We've Only Just Begun" over and over until my mom pleaded with me to please, please, please stop before she threw herself off the roof, well, that was nobody's business but mine. We've only just begun to live / white lace and promises. I'm sure the Bible has some catchy lines, but God's no Karen and Richard. My dad's favourite line: We're all just one bad decision away from disaster. You won't find it in a Carpenters song. That one was pure Jim Fisher.
     "We're all just one bad decision away from disaster." This was the epilogue to every story about another poor sap who'd gotten himself maimed or blinded or worse. Jim Fisher sold insurance, and being a man who didn't know how to talk to children, including his one and only daughter, he spoke to me as he would a client, spouting the facts of life, death, and dismemberment the way other men did baseball scores. Being a girl who didn't know how to talk to men, especially her one and only father, I listened, my tender mind whirring to catalogue these catastrophes under Bad Things That Happen to Other People. I grew up knowing that more toddlers drowned in backyard pools like ours than in the canal that split our town in two. I knew my chances of choking on a hot dog or slipping in the tub. For years, I thought "stop, drop, and roll" was a game all families played. My mom thought this kind of talk would frighten me. I thought his knowledge of the world's secret workings would keep us safe. So I kept my dolls mummified in bubble wrap and cut my hot dogs into bite-sized pieces and waited for my Barbie Dreamhouse life to take shape. 
     By the time I met Carol Closter I'd stopped worrying about the kinds of things you can insure yourself against. I was fourteen years old at the start of 1971, and as far as I could tell each new day was another chance to completely screw up my life in ways my dad couldn't even imagine. What was a little earthquake or electrocution compared to the daily hazards of high school? Anyway, by then the man was living in a pool. He was hardly in a position to be offering advice.
     I used to blame Neil Armstrong. The night he walked on the moon, my family had camped in front of the television like the rest of the country. It was July 1969, and some of us still believed the stars had all the answers. Mom had bitten her Patti nails and wept quietly. She wasn't one of those mothers who cried all the time. When Nixon was sworn into office, girls at school said their mothers had blubbered like babies. Mine had turned off the TV and gone to bed with a headache. My mom was from Canada and Canadians couldn't vote. If my history textbooks were right, Canadians didn't do much of anything. She probably cried on the night of the moon landing because she realized nobody from her country would ever step foot off this planet. My dad, on the other hand, was one hundred per cent American. He sat quietly gripping the arms of his favourite chair as if he was sitting up there in the Lunar Module between Buzz and Neil. When Old Glory was planted in Swiss cheese, Dad stood and saluted the set. "Well, how about that?" he said. "How about that." Then he picked up a throw pillow and took his own earth-bound steps through the sliding doors. He spent the rest of the night outside on a lounge chair, gazing up at Neil's moon. The next night he was there again, wrapped up in an old sleeping bag. By September, he'd claimed the thin mattress of the pool house cot. One small step for man, one giant leap for Jim Fisher.

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Be Ready for the Lightning

Be Ready for the Lightning

edition:Paperback

From acclaimed New Face of Fiction alumna Grace O'Connell, a suspenseful, poignant and provocative tale about violence, sibling love, friendship, heroism--all told through the lens of a young woman trapped in a hijacked bus.

On the surface, Veda's life in Vancouver seems to be going just fine--at nearly thirty, she has a good job, lifelong friends, and a close bond with her brother, Conrad. But Conrad's violent behavior, a problem since he was a teen, is getting more and more serious, and Veda's …

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Excerpt

I’ve never been shot. I’ve never even seen a gun up close, other than my father’s hunting rifles up at the cabin. And those old .22s, with their wooden stocks, are more like something from Davey Crockett than Quentin Tarantino.

He took Conrad into the woods to shoot sometimes—my dad, not Quentin Tarantino. Muffled booms from deep in the trees. It was just pop cans off stumps, and once, on a whim, the slowest, dumbest rabbit. Tears from Connie afterwards.

They didn’t invite me into the woods to shoot. It wasn’t because I’m a girl. Just an assumption that I wouldn’t have wanted to go. They were right. I wouldn’t have.

I get on the city bus that day in April after running three blocks down Fifth Avenue, along the side of Central Park. I’ve been in New York a couple of months already, but there’s still a part of me, a dorky tourist part, that can only think I’m running down Fifth Avenue. I’m running beside Central Park as I go. A numbskull commentary of the obvious.

I’m wearing my shoes that got ruined in the rain. They’re half-slipping off my feet, but the bus is almost at the stop, so I run past souvenir stands and lemonade carts and a pile of seemingly discarded blue wooden slats telling me sternly, “Police Line Do Not Cross.” It’s unseasonably hot in Manhattan, and I’m sweating in my pits, down my back and a little where my bra meets my skin.

On the bus, there isn’t an open seat except where I would have to really squeeze in beside someone, which I don’t like, so I just stand. I hang from the clammy pull-down handle, swinging and swaying around. I bump into a moustached man beside me and apologize.

He says, “Don’t worry dear,” and my homesick heart gives a little jump, because that is something my dad would say, the dear. I can almost hear him saying it, the faded Irish lilt buttering the edges of his voice. When I’m away from them, I miss a version of my parents
that doesn’t really exist, a sort of cuddly perfect-family nostalgia. Maybe I’m not the only one; maybe this is why people leave, move on, put distance between themselves and where they’re from—so they can miss a Vaseline-lens version of things.

Central Park goes on forever. Just before we pass by the Met and its grand entrance, a crowd of kids gets off the bus with a woman herding them, probably a teacher. There’s a playground peeking out above the stone wall of the park. I don’t know why—I don’t get sappy about
kids usually—but it makes me smile. 

After the kids go, there’s enough room to sit, but I don’t bother. Neither does the moustache man. I feel attached to him, as if we are friends. I do this with strangers all the time. I do it with cars that I drive behind on the highway for a long time. I get sad when they exit.

A tall guy, one of those slab-of-meat Russian types, gets on the bus and sits down in one of the spaces vacated by the children. He’s talking loudly into a cell phone.

“Yeah, I’m on the M1 now, I’ll be there when I’m there, it’s good. Doesn’t matter, anyway, she wouldn’t even let me pick him up, like picking him up is something so big, too big for me apparently. It’s some bullshit, but what am I supposed to do? I got my mom to do it,
apparently that was okay, even she wouldn’t say no to my mom—”

A professorial-looking man across the aisle makes a shh sound and says, quietly, “Could you keep your voice down? You’re disturbing everyone.”

Without even moving the phone away from his mouth, the first man says, even louder, “Don’t tell me to shh, I ain’t disturbing anyone but you.” The two of them glare at one another for a second, and I get tense all over. I hate fights. There is that swollen, pre-storm feeling that crackles between men sometimes. Then the smaller guy drops his eyes, and the loud one returns to his call, and there is an air of relief and emasculation around the man who complained.

In the seat in front of him, two teenagers are taking photos of each other with a phone.

The girl says, “What’s it called? Photographic memory? I totally want that.”

And the boy says, “Anyone can do it, it’s easy.”

“No, it’s not, you have to be born with it.”

“No, you can learn it. You need these special lights, and there’s a book that teaches you how. My sister told me about it.”

At this the girl looks cowed, impressed. Then the boy points the phone at her, and she smiles again.

I’m looking out the window, somewhere in the lower fifties or upper forties, watching a man take a photo of his wife on the sidewalk as she pantomimes throwing her umbrella into a trash can.
I picture them torturing their nieces and nephews with a computer slideshow of those photos, when they get home. Why take a picture like that? Celebrating the end of the rain, the beautiful
day? I guess I opted for the bus over the subway for the same reason, and because I don’t like being underground, and because
I’m not in a hurry.

I haven’t been in a hurry since I got to New York. I’m filling my hours, wandering around, tutoring kids who are either too dumb for me to ever get them where their anxious parents want them to end up, or too smart to need me. I prefer the dumb ones. I can comfort them, and some of them have already developed appealing compensations for their dumbness—humour or charm or selfdeprecation. They know that they’re not going to make their parents happy. The smart ones are sadder, more desperate. They want to be even smarter than they are; they are already worried about being anything less than perfect.

One girl asked me to write a college essay for her. I was confused, because she’s one of the brightest kids I tutor. I knew whatever she wrote would be good. “Not good enough,” she said, her perfectly smooth hands twisting together on the dining room table. “I’ll pay you. I have my own account. How much do you want?” Sounding slightly manic, she started listing the things she could give me: this purse or that cell phone; she could give me her brand-new laptop and tell her parents she lost it; did I want her coat, her shoes, her dresses? I didn’t take her money or her stuff, but it wasn’t because it would have been wrong. It was because I could tell this girl didn’t have it in her to lie well, to lie blandly and in that small way lies need to be told in order to be believed. That she would panic and throw me under the bus, when her parents said, “Is that what really happened?” That she was still missing the slightly rotten thing I’d found in myself that keeps you calm and flat when you should be sorry.

In Midtown, a guy gets on wearing a checked shirt under a long, heavy coat. His thin legs poke out from shorts below the coat, sport socks yanked up above tennis shoes. It is a heartbreaking outfit, a clash of boy and man. He must be so hot. Also, he’s sort of goodlooking, despite the weird clothes, one of those dark honey blonds, sharp-nosed with the sort of finely veined skin that looks like it would bruise easily.

After the door closes behind him, just as the bus begins to pull away from the curb, he reaches into his jacket and takes out a gun, leans over the fare box, around the Plexiglas shield, and points it at the driver’s head. The gun is big and sort of rectangular, like a cell phone from the ’80s.

“Stop the bus,” he says.

I only see and hear this because I’m close to the front; I’m already looking at him. He couldn’t be more than thirty, if that, the same age as me. The driver slams on the brakes, the bus lurches to a halt, and my body goes forward and then back. I bump into the moustache man again, who says, “Don’t worry, don’t worry, I’m not made of glass,” even though I didn’t say anything this time. He’s behind me and hasn’t yet seen the man with the gun. But an older woman in front of me, sitting in the courtesy seats, has, and she is making small noises.

“Pull it right over to the curb,” says the man, “and put your hands on your head. Don’t speak on your radio. Please.” His voice is lower than you’d expect from his size, his looks. A baritone, a radio voice.

Some people behind me are grumbling and saying, “What the fuck?” because they don’t know why the bus has stopped. And all of this so far has taken only seconds. The driver puts the bus in gear and it trundles to the right. One wheel goes up on the curb, and more passengers yell. What the fuck. Is this idiot drunk? Jesus Christ. The driver puts his hands on his head, and I can just see a scrap of his elbow jutting out to the side.

“Put it back in park,” says the man, and the driver does so, the elbow dipping out of sight momentarily. I can hear him speaking now. He says, “Just walk off, just go home. You’re okay, man, you’re okay. It’s nothing, really, nothing at all.”

I’m not really thinking anything right now. In the morning, I’d been walking around in the Met feeling strangely disconnected, as if I’d gone deaf. I was still worrying, irrationally, that what happened to my ear in B.C. had damaged my hearing, though logically I knew that my zonked feeling was probably just a hangover from the bar night I’d just had for my birthday with Al and Marie. I got the Met tickets from the parents of a boy I’m tutoring who’s wonderfully rich and woefully stupid. Technically, you can go to the museum for free, but they ask you to buy a ticket–you can choose any price, or none at all. The idea of just ignoring the request and swanning in without paying was too intimidating, but paying for a free museum seemed wasteful on my limited budget. The pre-paid ticket was easy, anonymous. If I told Annie that, she’d make fun of me. Spineless. I know it.

On the bus, in this moment, it’s too quick. The whole thing seems like something that is happening but also not happening. I feel like I’m floating. I still have the little metal badge from the Met clipped to the neckline of my dress, a summer dress I’m wearing, because it is so oddly warm today. The only tiny working corner of my brain theorizes that this might be some sort of extreme ad campaign or maybe a movie shoot (how, somehow). Or something terribly strange
but legitimate, allowed. It can’t be real. 

The gunman steps back a little, blinks a few times. He looks at the Plexiglas barrier that half-shields the driver’s seat. Then he shoots the driver in the head.

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The Only Child

The Only Child

A Novel
edition:eBook
also available: Paperback Paperback

Bestselling author Andrew Pyper returns with a thrilling new novel about one woman’s search for a mad killer, and the unsettling relationship that binds them.

What if you learned your father wasn’t who you thought he was? What if you learned you carried secrets deep within your blood?

Dr. Lily Dominick has seen her fair share of bizarre cases as a forensic psychiatrist working with some of New York’s most dangerous psychotic criminals. But nothing can prepare Lily for her newest patient. …

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Scarborough

Scarborough

edition:Paperback

Trillium Book Award and City of Toronto Book Award finalist; Edmund White Debut Fiction Award finalist; A Globe 100, National Post and Quill and Quire Best Book of the Year; Longlisted for Canada Reads

Scarborough is a low-income, culturally diverse neighbourhood east of Toronto, the fourth largest city in North America; like many inner-city communities, it suffers under the weight of poverty, drugs, crime, and urban blight. Scarborough the novel employs a multitude of voices to tell the story of …

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The Slip

The Slip

edition:Paperback
also available: eBook
tagged : humorous, literary

In this wickedly funny novel, one bad afternoon and two regrettable comments make the inimitable Philip Sharpe go viral for all the worst reasons.

Dr. Philip Sharpe, absent-minded professor extraordinaire, teaches philosophy at the University of Toronto and is one of Canada’s most combative public intellectuals. But when a live TV debate with his fiercest rival goes horribly off the rails, an oblivious Philip says some things to her that he really shouldn’t have.

As a clip of Philip’s “sli …

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Excerpt

Monday, November 2

I would have run to little Naomi when she cried out, except I had to get the poppy to stay on. That seemed paramount as I stood in the master bedroom at 4 Metcalfe Street, getting ready for my TV appearance. The producer at CBC’s Power Today had emailed us all with her fourth reminder since Friday morning. Okay, folks: We’re in Remembrance Day mode as of Monday, so we ask all on-air guests to have the poppy prominently displayed for broadcast. We won’t have a box of them in the studio yet, so please bring your own. Should go on the left, over your heart. Yes, yes. I had a track record for being one of these careless dolts who loses four or five poppies to the wind and just gives up somewhere around November 7. I imagined hundreds of those plastic-and-felt florets I’d bought over the years clogging the gutters of Cabbagetown and the Annex, and the goddamn veterans counting up their gold like Scrooge McDuck. The things were clearly engineered to fall off. It became critical, in that moment, to get it fastened correctly. More critical than whatever else I planned to wear — brown tweed over blue shirt and some pleasantly centrist slacks — or my efforts to sooth the ginger flare of comb-over that sprang across my skull like the facehugger from Alien. (Cheryl Sneed, my fellow panellist and long-time nemesis on the Right, would make some green room remark about it, regardless. Either that or the wisp of PEI accent that still warped my rhotics — which I hammed up whenever I was in her presence, because I knew it annoyed her.) And, perhaps, more critical even than what my three-year-old daughter was screaming about down the hall, in the bathroom. Grace was on it, anyway. I heard her fly out of Naomi’s bedroom with a panicked Sweetie, are you OKAY? followed by a quick gush from the faucet. I plucked the poppy off my bureau, fluttered it like a parasol in the mirror. Wait — where was my tweed? Oh right, of course. I hurried into the hallway.
“Philip. Philip, are you there?”
I was not. I bounded up the stairs to my third-floor office, zagging around the Dora the Explorer doll lying on the hardwood beneath my feet. Entering my office, I found the tweed where I last left it: thrown over the arm of the futon. I nabbed the jacket and laid it flat across my desk, moving manuscript printouts from my next book (tentatively called “Christianity and Its Dissidents”) out of the way. I bent over and manoeuvred the flower over the lapel. I poked the steel pin into the pure virgin wool and pressed the poppy in as deep as it would go. Then I raised the jacket up and looked at it. Already the plastic blossom had slid a few millimetres out of the lapel.
Grace’s voice echoed from the hall and through the open office door.
“Philip — seriously, are you there or not?”
Just a minute, dear. I returned the jacket to the futon arm and then moved to the overflowing bookshelf on the opposite wall. I pulled down my author copy of Corporate Canada Today (Tuxedo House, 2014) and quickly confirmed a few facts about ODS Financial Group, which would be the subject of this afternoon’s Power Today interview. Yes, yes. Managing partner since ’99: Viktor Grozni. CFO: the lovely and talented Glenda Harkins-Smith. Market cap before the 2008 crash. Market cap just before Friday’s announcement. Number of Canadians with pensions directly managed by. Number of ancillary businesses shareholders had no idea existed. Amount of direct subsidy from the Harper Conservatives since 2011. Yes, yes. It was already there, all of it, in my head. Cheryl Sneed didn’t stand a chance.
Time to throw the jacket on and quickly help Grace with whatever she and Naomi were dealing with in the bathroom (the child had stopped screaming, but continued with a kind of hiccupy crying that seemed to reverberate through the whole house) before heading downtown. I turned and reached for my tweed, only to have my gaze hauled to the floor. There on the hardwood lay my poppy, face down like a drunkard.
Oh, that is it, I thought. Fucking veterans.
I grabbed the tweed and picked up the poppy before storming back down the stairs. Time for Plan B.
“Philip — Philip can you please come here.”
I hustled down to the main floor. Stole a glance at the clock on the kitchen wall. Oh God. I hurried to the door leading to our basement. My basement, since Grace and the kids rarely went down there. More oubliette than man cave, it had a set of stairs that descended almost vertically into that dark, unfinished gizzard. I marched down and popped on the light, which only marginally diminished the darkness, then went to my small workbench with the poppy and jacket in tow. I rested the tweed flat and placed the scarlet bloom onto the lapel. Then I grabbed the industrial stapler I had bought at Canadian Tire to assemble some rather complicated birthday party decorations for my stepdaughter, Simone, when she turned thirteen a few weeks ago. The tool was heavy in my hand, like a weapon. I clamped one end of the nozzle over the flower and tucked the other under the tweed.
BLAM! BLAM!
There. Perfect. Well, not perfect. I held the jacket up once more. Hopefully the CBC’s cameras were not so HD that they would pick up the tiny planks of metal that now held the poppy in place.
I hiked back up to the main floor, throwing the jacket on as I did. Moving to holler upstairs to Grace, I turned to see that she and Naomi were already in the kitchen, waiting for me. My wife leaned against the counter, arms folded over her chest, her bottom lip tucked under her top teeth, her head tilted. Oh, she was mad. I briefly scanned the kitchen for the source of her rage. Surely I hadn’t forgotten to clean up the wreckage of the Bloody Joseph (my third since breakfast): the inedible stump of celery sequestered in the compost, the tin of tomato juice washed out and blue-binned, the celery salt resuming its place in the spice rack, and various other accoutrements returned to their sentry posts in my bar fridge. But no. The kitchen was spotless, as per our agreement.
“Oh, hey,” I ventured. “Look, I’m running late but would you mind —”
“Did you not hear me calling you?”
What was I to say to that?
“I’m pretty sure you did hear me calling you, Philip,” she went on, “because I could hear you shuffling in the hallway outside the bathroom as I did.”
“I wasn’t ’shuffling,’” I said. “I was getting ready for this CBC thing. Look —”
“The tub faucet upstairs still isn’t working right.”
“Yes, it is,” I disagreed, stupidly. I had showered earlier in the day, as had Simone before she’d gone to school. (It wasn’t apparent whether Grace had had her shower yet.) But she was, technically, right — the tub faucet was still plagued with a peculiar problem: the cold water tap would spew piping-hot water for nearly a minute after you turned it on. It was the latest in a series of bathroom issues we’d been having. You’d think that for the ungodly sum I paid for 4 Metcalfe Street six years ago when we got married, we’d have a fully functional bathroom — not to mention a finished basement. But no, no.
“You were supposed to get it fixed,” Grace said, “like, three weeks ago. And now —”
“It’s on my list. You know it’s on my list.”
“And now what I feared would happen — what I knew would happen if you didn’t get it fixed — has happened. Naomi went in there before I realized and turned on the tap and scalded herself.”
“I had to take a pewp,” Naomi informed me with a sniffle, and displayed her reddened right wrist.
I looked at her. “Did, did you poop in the tub, sweetie?”
“She didn’t poop in the tub,” Grace barked. “Philip, you’re missing the point. Did you not hear your daughter scream out and start crying?”
I did. Of course I did. But I knew — or at least assumed — that Grace had things well in hand. Which she did.
My eyes flicked to the wall clock. Jesus.
“Look, what do you want from me?” I tried a half smile. “I fixed the sink up there, didn’t I?”
“Yes, you fixed the sink — after I nagged you about it for five months. What, do you want a medal for that?”
“Grace —”
“I’m serious, Philip. Would you like a prize for fixing the sink? We could write to the French government and get them to create a new international award for plumbing, and give it to you. They could call it the Douche d’Or.”
“You’re hilarious,” I deadpanned, but then chuckled on the inside. She must have been sitting on that joke for weeks.
I shrugged at her. “Look, what can I say? I’m not handy. You know that. This kind of stuff stresses me out, and I have enough stress in my life right now. I’m teaching two courses this term. I’ve got the new book. I’ve got the thesis defence I’m chairing in a few weeks, and …” My eyes floated back to the clock. “I’ve got this CBC thing this afternoon.”
“So you don’t have time to pick up the phone and call a plumber, is what you’re saying.”
“It’s not about calling a plumber, Grace. It’s about having the headspace to figure out if there are any plumbers left in this city who haven’t screwed us over.”
“You weren’t teaching in the summer,” she pointed out. “You could have done it then.”
“Yes, but I had a breakthrough with the book, and …” I pinched my nose, sighed. In that moment, I longed for my old life, before we bought this huge, and hugely expensive, house in Cabbagetown. For sixteen years prior to marrying Grace, I had lived in a loft in the Annex. If the sink broke, the landlord came and fixed it. Which felt like something that only happened in fairy tales, now.
“Look,” I went on, “just because I wasn’t teaching doesn’t mean I had the capacity to deal with …” And yes, I said it then; the words just flew out of me. “… a bunch of domestic trifles.”
“Wow,” she said, long and slow, and blinked at me. “So I guess what you’re saying is it’s really my responsibility, because you’ve got all that,” and here she mock-furrowed her brow at me, “deep thinking to do.”
“Oh, come on, Grace.”
But she took a step toward me then, her backside leaving the counter. In one fluid motion, she jutted her hip out, picked up Naomi, and parked the child upon it. Engaging, she was, in that most basic act of motherwork: to hold her child close. Then Grace threw back her thick, curly hair — sporting a henna dye job she’d acquired a few months ago, one I thoroughly approved of when she first modelled it for me, burying my face in its waves later that night, in bed — and looked at me with those wild, emerald eyes of hers.

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