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Editors' Picks: Week of June 3–9

By kileyturner
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The women in these books have had it. Had it up to here. Had their last nerve stepped on. And worse. What they do next is what makes these books so fascinating.
Rose's Run

Rose's Run

edition:Paperback
also available: eBook

Rose Okanese, a single mother with two kids, has been pushed into a corner by Rez citizens to claim some self-respect, and decides that the fastest way to do that would be for her to run the reserve's annual marathon. Though Rose hasn't run in twenty years, smokes and initially has little motivation, she announces her intention to run the race. One quality Rose doesn't lack is spontaneity which sometimes clashes with her iron will and though she has initial regrets about opening her mouth, her l …

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Excerpt

Dahlia Ingram was six-feet-two inches tall with legs that came up to Rose Okanese's bicep and every inch of those long legs were encased in some futuristic-looking silver stretch pants designed to show off every bump and curve - except that Dahlia didn't have any of those. She was a creature of bone and muscle, covered with a mop of blonde curls. Nature had designed Dahlia for one purpose: to run long distances at high speeds with effortless grace, and she, and no one else, was Rose's competition for the Annual Okanese Marathon and Fishing Derby.

In this particular year, Dahlia had already ran three marathons, three half marathons and four 10 Ks and it was only June. This was Rose's second race, in her lifetime. (Well, fifth if you included races she ran in elementary school). She'd done okay in those - never last, just an innocuous second or third last depending on whether or not one or both of the asthmatic Bower twins was in attendance.) She'd never had an athletic performance that resulted in someone taking her aside afterwards like the coach in Rocky and patting her on the shoulder: "Yuh got real talent, kid. But you're still a bum."

Rose had her bumps and curves poured into an orange tank top and a pair of black spandex shorts. The spandex shorts had been $19.99, a Walmart splurge, forced upon her by her sixteen-year-old daughter Sarah who had added, "There's no law saying you have to be dorkiest person in the race." Rose kept crossing her legs, subconsciously hoping that it distracted from the size of her thighs.

Probably the best thing she could do to appear smaller was to move away from the human licorice next to her. But the idea of standing alone was more frightening than appearing to be the number ten.
"I'm kind of nervous," she blurted out.
Dahlia continued to stretch her quad muscle, her long leg bent in half like a flamingo.
"I bet you don't get nervous, hey?" Rose continued when there was no reply. "This must be like taking a walk in a park or something? Like walking from your bedroom to your kitchen? I bet you'll go for another run this afternoon, right? How long is this run gonna take you anyway?"

Dahlia looked at Rose like she had just noticed her for the first time. Her eyes, permanently crinkled at the corners from wind, swept from Rose's full face, already flushed, down to her slightly protruding belly, over her knees pointing inwards to her purple and white Saucony sneakers.
"Nice shoes," Dahlia said. Rose beamed.
"They were a gift. From my kids."
"Mom!" Callie yelled. Rose looked over and saw her eight-year-old daughter waving a bag of cotton candy. "Did you eat?"
"I'm good, honey!" Rose called back. "That's my daughter Callie," she explained to Dahlia. "Do you have any?"
Dahlia shook her head. She moved into the runner's stretch and dropped her knee down to the ground. For a tall woman, she was very flexible.
Rose tried to replicate the stretch but found her lower back laughed at her so she settled for bending forward from the waist in a bouncy motion.
"You know ten weeks ago, I hadn't run in twenty years. I sure as hell never thought I'd be here right now, lined up at this race, next to a pro like you. Funny how life throws you into some strange situations, huh? I mean I know I'm the one who signed up for the race and I'm the one who drove myself here - so when I think about it that way, I'm the one who threw me into this. Still, it's funny. . ."

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The Last Resort

The Last Resort

edition:Paperback
also available: Paperback eBook

From bestselling author Marissa Stapley comes a gripping novel about marriage, loyalty, and the deadly secrets that unravel over the course of a two-week couples’ therapy retreat in Mexico.

We all have thirteen secrets. Five stay buried forever, but the rest will be revealed.
Miles Markell is missing, and everyone is a suspect.
To the guests at The Harmony Resort, Doctors Miles and Grace Markell appear to be a perfect power couple. They run a couples’ therapy retreat in a luxurious resort in …

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The Book of Eve

The Book of Eve

edition:Paperback
tagged :

First published in 1973, The Book of Eve has become a classic. When Eva Carroll walks out on her husband of 40 years, it is an unplanned, completely spontaneous gesture. Yet Eva feels neither guilt nor remorse. Instead, she feels rejuvenated and blissfully free. As she builds a new life for herself in a boarding house on the “wrong” side of Montreal, she finds happiness and independence – and, when she least expects it, love.

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The Silent Wife

The Silent Wife

edition:Paperback
also available: Paperback

Jodi and Todd are at a bad place in their marriage. Both are at the mercy of their unrelenting wants and needs, and both are unaware that the path they are on is careening toward murder. Much is at stake, including the affluent life they lead in their beautiful waterfront condo in Chicago, as she, the killer, and he, the victim, rush haplessly toward the main event, oblivious of the destiny they are jointly creating, caught in the thrall of disaster unfolding.

Chapter by chapter, the narrative e …

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Autopsy of a Boring Wife

Autopsy of a Boring Wife

edition:eBook
also available: Paperback

Like a Québécois Bridget Jones’s Diary, Autopsy of a Boring Wife tells the hysterically funny and ultimately touching tale of forty-eight-year-old Diane, a woman whose husband is having an affair because, he says, she bores him.

Diane takes the change to heart and undertakes an often ribald, highly entertaining journey to restore trust in herself--and others--that offers an astute commentary on women and girls, gender differences, and the curious institution of twenty-first century marriage …

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Motherish

Motherish

edition:eBook

The women who populate Laura Rock Gaughan’s debut collection, Motherish, veer from playful to distraught, reckless to restrained, anchored to unmoored. Gambling grandmas, athletes and organists, pregnant bus passengers and punitive bank tellers are pushed to the brink by Gaughan’s distinctively precise prose, while they grapple with what it means to mother and be mothered. With various perspectives, Gaughan creates box after box—and actual chicken coops—for her characters to explode from …

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Practical Jean

Practical Jean

A Novel
edition:Paperback
also available: eBook Paperback Hardcover
tagged : literary

Jean wouldn’t be able stand it if something unfortunate were to befall her friends—that’s why decides to kill them herself, before anything else can harm them. Bad Marie meets Arsenic and Old Lace in this darkly humorous story of a woman whose overpowering love for her friends moves her to murder each and every one of them. Practical Jean, the U.S. debut of acclaimed Canadian author Trevor Cole, is a “biting and black comedy of middle-class mores gone murderously wrong” that “combine …

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Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club

Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club

edition:eBook
also available: Paperback Audiobook Audiobook
tagged : literary

#1 National Bestseller
Finalist, CBC Canada Reads
Finalist, Scotiabank Giller Prize

By turns savage, biting, funny, poetic, and heartbreaking, Megan Gail Coles’s debut novel rips into the inner lives of a wicked cast of characters, exposing class, gender, and racial tensions over the course of one Valentine’s Day in the dead of a winter storm.

Valentine’s Day, the longest day of the year.

A fierce blizzard is threatening to tear a strip off the city, while inside The Hazel restaurant a storm …

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Excerpt

Olive waits below the sad mural painted in memory of some long ago drowned boy.

She can see up and down Duckworth Street from her perch though there’s not much to see this early in the morning. A scattered taxi slogs by carrying fiendish-looking passengers who attempt to discreetly smoke from barely cracked windows. Discretion is a skill they have fallen out with but they don’t know that yet. They still fancy themselves stealth, piling four parka-plied humans into a single toilet stall, scarves dangling beneath the door, telling tails on them all.

Volume control is a thing of delusion in the confined spaces they inhabit. It will be years before this is fully realized by those who escape the scene or are thrown into adulthood by overdose or pregnancy. These lucky few will feel overwhelmingly, retroactively embarrassed by their one-time rock star fantasies. Olive can hear them bawling about their supposed betrayals as clouds of tobacco smoke and slurry syllables updraft skyward through the slightly parted window.

But Olive forgives them their make-believe follies.

They are no better or worse than most of the half well-off, half grown-up humans she has met. They are just flawed and vulnerable to the pitch. Olive is no different. She has chased the white dragon into smoky rooms where grad students complained about unkindly thesis feedback while wearing thousand dollar watches. A holiday-tanned winter wrist, a baggie held aloft, another Volvo fob serving key bumps round the ring. Under such circumstances, Olive is for the most part silent. She can pass for one of them until she releases language into the world.

Olive often holds her rural tongue for fear of being found out. She is not a card-carrying member of the townie majority. And rarely are there other fugitive faces for Olive to hide behind on nights when she wants to get on the go. There was a Mexican painter once. A Russian musician. There was the one Pakistani fellow whose name Olive could never recall. She did not think it was unpronounceable, she just could not pronounce it.

There are lots of words still beyond her reach.

Like Olive can think of no words to describe the pain felt where her pants nearly meet her feet. She winces and tucks her chin farther inside her coat. She tries to push her neck back to save from catching skin in the zipper. She sniffs back hard and swallows a slippery lob. Her grandmother would not approve of hoarding mucus in the body but her grandmother would not approve of much of what she does lately. Olive sighs and swells and swallows spit to slide the lob along.

Ollie my dollie, get a tissue.

Her grandmother’s voice is always a program running in the back of her mind. But Olive can’t sacrifice a tissue on mere mucus this morning. Her store of napkins is running low and the last time she tried to hock and spit the wind gust blew snot back onto her sleeve. The line of mucus running from her lips to her elbow turned her weak stomach over. A middle-aged woman in a bright blue Canada Goose coat muttered oh for the love of god as she hurried past the translucent boundary. This made Olive feel gross.

She swallows that gross feeling down again while she waits.

She can distract herself for a time from the damp soak settling in her heels by watching the craven-faced respectable people meander to their grown-up jobs after a weekend of pretending to be twenty-five. They are not twenty-five. They are not even thirty-five and feel as such. Most internally promise to stay home with the kids next weekend as they turn their faces to or from the sunshine depending on the quantity of painkillers ingested in the car. This temporary commitment to sobriety is bookended by revolving party systems.

Some relish vitamin D while others resent it.

The division will not last long, though, as the sun already has started to duck back inside the nimbostratus. It will storm again today as surely as the nearly forty will go out again in four days’ time. The babysitter will be called. The cat will be let in. They will flee their houses for a little look around.

Get the stink of house off ya.

They will reliably cloak this smell of domestication in alcohol and nicotine and self-loathing until Monday. Mondays are for quitting everything. Again. Except when it storms on Monday. Then quitting everything is pushed to Tuesday.

Today is such a Tuesday.

The weekend warriors refuse to sell out and so have fully bought in pound for pound.

Olive is just the same. She too had been sold the notion of party drugs as lazy fun and then fast gobbled them hand over fist. Swallow, snort, smoke; ingestion is an irrelevant matter of personal preference and ease. There is no wall to wall them out. Or in. Drug trends are trendingalong regardless of national media reports daily updating all on their progress east and upward. Olive has watched the same scenes play out on repeat in dark corners of the late night since arriving in Sin Jawns.

And they’ve gone and stashed the kits everywhere to protect against the siren call. A first line of defence kept behind wine bars. Under the bathroom sink. In purses. And Olive knows she must address the long list of reasons why self-medicare is needed to comfort her.

Eventually.

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