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Small-Town Fiction Standouts in 2020

By kileyturner
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The intimacy of small towns creates ideal conditions for character development and intrigue.
How a Woman Becomes a Lake

How a Woman Becomes a Lake

edition:Paperback
also available: Paperback

From the Giller-nominated author of Y comes How a Woman Becomes a Lake, a taut, suspenseful novel about the dark corners of a small town, and the secrets that lurk within...

It's New Year's Day and the residents of a small fishing town are ready to start their lives anew. Leo takes his two young sons out to the lake to write resolutions on paper boats. That same frigid morning, Vera sets out for a walk with her dog along the lake, leaving her husband in bed with a hangover.

But she never returns. …

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Excerpt

Chapter One

Lewis

He found the car in the second parking lot at Squire Point, doors splayed, engine on. It was a fancy car—something Lewis Côté could never dream of owning. He climbed into the driver’s seat, scanned the expensive leather, ran his hands over the plush black steering wheel, and took the keys out of the ignition. Through the car’s open doors, the snow fell around him, landed on his thighs, and blew into his hair. Someone had drawn a pattern in the condensation on the passenger side window—crosshatches, as if to play tic-tac-toe. Lewis rooted through the glove compartment, checked under the seats, spun around. The back seat was covered in grey and white dog hair, so Lewis whistled and clapped, and after a few minutes, a nice-looking dog—a husky, perhaps—emerged from the woods, its fur caked with snow.

“Hey, boy,” Lewis said, patting the dog’s head and letting the dog lick his hands. “Help me out here.”

They walked together, Lewis having fashioned a makeshift leash from a rope he had in the trunk of his patrol car. The trail was icy and Lewis’s boots slid out from under him. He walked like a duck to keep his balance. The cold air slivered his lungs. There was no reason to draw his gun, but his free hand hovered by his hip, in case.

An hour ago, a woman named Vera Gusev had called the station from the Squire Point pay phone, saying that she had found a little boy. She was at the second parking lot, she said, the boy keeping warm in her car. He had been separated from his father in the woods and was cold but fine--and that was all she said. The sound of her dropping the receiver, it clanging off the side of the phone booth, a muffled cry that could have been “hey” or “wait,” then nothing. Lewis had driven cautiously to the scene, the roads slick. New Year’s Day was a quiet one on the job, everyone asleep, hung over, or in jail from whatever nonsense they’d gotten up to the night before. He cursed himself now for taking his time.

When had it ever been this cold? The blizzard had come at the end of November, blanketing the whole region, and then the temperature had plunged. All anyone could talk about was the weather. Not in eighty years had so much snow fallen. Most people in Whale Bay didn’t even own proper winter coats. Usually it snowed once or twice a year, an inch or two, and melted by the morning. The blizzard was fun at first. School cancelled; everyone out walking. The army was called in to salt the roads. No plows—there wasn’t money for that. Anyone from the East Coast—or the Midwest, as was the case with Lewis—thought this was a non-event, silly even. The high comedy of shovelling a driveway with a cookie sheet, a casserole dish, the lid of a garbage can. The snow was so high that children knocked down foot-long icicles from the street lights and used them as swords.

Only one death so far: a man whose car had filled with carbon monoxide as he waited for his windshield to defrost, the tailpipe clogged with snow. There wasn’t much sympathy for him. Should’ve known better. Maybe suicide then. A homeless man had almost died of hypothermia, but was fine—had been interviewed by the local news while eating a dish of ice cream in his hospital bed.

Of course, the requisite traffic accidents and power outages. A fist fight in a grocery store over the last carton of milk. Some looting. A collapsed roof, a destroyed greenhouse. Mostly, though, the eerie silence that accompanies so much snow, and the inevitable camaraderie from enduring an out-of-the-ordinary event. A return to kindness, Lewis thought. The simplicity of survival. He had missed the snow.

He was twenty-four, attractive yet baby-faced, unmarried and without children—still a boy in some ways, even though he carried a baton and a gun. He got a little thrill when he told people what he did for a living. “So young!” they said and he wanted to say, “Do you think I haven’t paid my dues? Do you think I don’t deserve it?” He wondered when he would stop being young. When he would cease to be the baby of the department. When all the joshing, the incessant joking around about his boyish looks, would stop. He felt himself to be a deeply earnest person. A good person. Even as a boy, he had a knack for reading people, a skill he attributed to his father, who was crazy in an invisible, functional way, so that Lewis had spent much of his life trying to piece together what had made his childhood so fraught, and why as a child he had been so nervous and unhappy. His mother had died so long ago that he had almost no memories of her, but there was an uncle he planned to contact someday, who he hoped could provide answers. But Lewis hadn’t gotten around to it yet. It seemed like such a huge undertaking: to go after the truth like that.

It was snowing again. It had been snowing all day and the forest was silent except for Lewis’s footfalls and the heavy panting of the dog. The dog pulled hard on the leash and Lewis had to brace himself on a tree trunk so he wouldn’t spill forward.

“Whoa, boy,” he said, then again more forcefully, snapping the leash a bit. But the dog was unrelenting and led him off the trail and into the woods. The snow fogged his glasses and Lewis could taste it on his lips, metallic and cold. He hoped he wasn’t about to uncover some grisly scene, though he did feel something bubbling up within him, something like excitement. He looked behind him, trying to memorize his way back to the trail. Squire Point was a confusing place. There were two parking lots with trailheads—both led to a large reservoir with a swimming hole that locals called “the lake”; the second trail cut through a small campground. The trails were unmarked and it was easy to go in circles. People often got lost, but all were usually found within a few hours. There were only so many ways a person could go.
“Vera Gusev? Hello?”

Why come out here in such bad conditions? Why not stay home? The dog leapt over a fallen tree and Lewis scrambled over it, caught his pant leg on a branch. He felt the snow creep into his socks, cold water between his toes. His hands burned. He passed the abandoned campground, and then he and the dog were standing at the edge of the lake, frozen over and covered with a dusting of snow. The dog whined and pulled against the leash, wanting to go out onto the ice.

“No, no,” he said to the dog. “Bad idea.”

Although the snow was falling fast, Lewis thought he could make out a trail of footprints on the ice. He squinted, snow in his eyelashes. Nothing. The footprints were gone. He hoped Vera and the boy hadn’t wandered onto the ice. People thought frozen lakes were stable, and they walked out onto them. People did this sort of thing all the time. They drove snowmobiles and trucks onto lakes! Lewis had done this as a boy every winter, in his father’s red pickup truck, on Lake Mendota. Even there, two or three people fell in every year, fishermen mostly, their bodies pulled out—sometimes alive, sometimes not—covered in icicles. That was the trouble with frozen lakes. There was no way to tell the thickness of the ice, nor the depth of the water beneath.

“Okay, boy,” Lewis said to the dog, and the dog sat, obediently, by Lewis’s side. The snow stopped, as if someone had flicked a switch. Now that the sky had cleared, Lewis could see the great iced-over expanse of the lake, a pale blue colour like a wolf’s eye, and the bright swatches of beach sand that lay below the ice, looking almost tropical despite the cold. A bird loitered on a branch, repeating its song. Lewis put his hand on top of the dog’s warm head. His hand seemed to mould perfectly to the shape of the dog’s head, as if it was meant to be there, meant to fill the emptiness of his hand. How did anyone get through life without a dog? He’d had a border terrier when he was a boy, and perhaps that was why he was largely okay, despite what he had been through with his father. Someone had to love you unconditionally in order for you to survive. Someone had to love you as much as you needed to be loved.

He scanned the lake, but there was no one. No signs of anyone having fallen through. He looked at the dog, tongue out, expectant. He heard the rumble of an airplane overhead. What can you see that I can’t see? What do you know that I don’t know? If Vera Gusev and the lost boy were out there, in the forest or under the ice, the lake, the dog, the plane, the sky—they gave away nothing.

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Rabbit Foot Bill

Rabbit Foot Bill

A Novel
edition:eBook
also available: Hardcover

A lonely boy in a prairie town befriends a tramp in 1947 and then witnesses a shocking murder. Based on a true story.

Canwood, Saskatchewan, 1947. Leonard Flint, a lonely boy in a small farming town befriends the local tramp, a man known as Rabbit Foot Bill. Bill doesn’t talk much, but he allows Leonard to accompany him as he sets rabbit snares and to visit his small, secluded dwelling. 

Being with Bill is everything to young Leonard—an escape from school, bullies and a hard father. So his sho …

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Throw Down Your Shadows

Throw Down Your Shadows

edition:Paperback
also available: eBook

Sixteen-year-old Winnie is a creature of habit, a lover of ritual and stability. If she had her way, not much would change. But when a new family moves to town, Winnie and her three best friends—all boys—find themselves changing quickly and dramatically to impress Caleb, their strange and charismatic new companion. Under Caleb's influence, Winnie and her friends test boundaries, flirt with danger, and in the end, illuminate darkness within each other and themselves.

Following a before and af …

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Excerpt

Though we had never met, he waved at us like he knew us. An open palm raised above his head. Bewitching grey eyes under dark, curly hair.

What is a wave, really? It is recognition. It is I see you. But it's not always a gesture of welcome. Sometimes a wave means caution. I see you (stay back). I see you (I'm busy). I see you (please, not now). His palm was raised, demanding our attention, letting us know we had appeared in his world. But his hand stayed frozen, inert. He didn't move it from side to side, like you do with those you're happy to see.

His hand was a stop sign but we mistook it for a green light.

AFTER

There is a moment when I first open my eyes. Not even a moment. It's gone before it begins. The night before, all its destruction, the fire, a dream. Something imagined. Confusing and irrational. I blink hard, but my eyes can't unsee. All that smoke, the heat. Don't fool yourself, Winnie. It happened.

I contemplate never leaving my room. Staying in bed with my hands clamped between my knees, turned towards the wall forever. What does the morning after look like? Not knowing makes me squirm.

I wonder if Ruth will do the regular things. Make coffee, serve it up hot. Did she bother to put on pajamas last night? I slept in a T-shirt, no underwear. I felt the need to let my whole body breathe.

Toast. She always makes toast. But who will eat it? And what about Mac? I don't think he came home last night. I didn't hear him. He tends to stomp up the stairs and across the hall. I would have heard the stomping and the opening and closing of doors. I would have heard them talking. Or maybe there was nothing to say.

I slide out of bed and into sweatpants. I listen before I open the door. Nothing. My hand hovers above the doorknob and I wait for a sign of what comes next. There's a strong chance everything will be different today, the old ways of doing and being no longer suitable. This is not a place that changes much but even those who are stuck and stubborn can't ignore such a profound disruption.

I finally turn the knob. I tiptoe downstairs, past the closed door of Ruth's bedroom. The house is unusually quiet. Dark corners and the echo of a clock hand. It's the end of October and the cold haunts my bare feet. I continue past the living room, the dining room. Everything quiet and empty and cold.

I nearly jump out of my skin when I find Ruth at the kitchen table. She's wearing pajamas.

"You scared me," I whisper. "Your door was closed."

She points upwards and I understand. Mac is sleeping.

She made coffee but no toast. She pours me a cup and we sink into silence. We wait.

BEFORE

Mona warned me. It was the only future she ever accurately predicted, our local psychic who couldn't see rain rolling in from the other end of the valley. I didn't believe in fortune-telling or astrology or anything like that, but Mona was my mother's best friend and my best friend Jake's mother. If she wanted to read my future, I wouldn't stop her.

"Hi, Mone," I said, opening the door of her tiny office.

"Winnie, come in." Her voice was low and hushed.

I sat down on the empty chair, the only clear space in the small room. Her office was tucked into the east corner of their farmhouse. A room with an unusually low ceiling, jam-packed with junk. There were crystal balls and heavy curtains and charts of the night sky, dirty teacups everywhere. But there were also used batteries and too many stray pens, milk crates full of old electronics. Radios and VCRs, a broken toaster.

"I'll need a moment," she said, gathering herself, eyes closed. A big bowl of water sat between us on her desk.

Mona was not a small woman. She was tall and broad, like her son Jake. They both had the same blonde hair, the colour of wheat, though Mona's was long and stringy, reaching down past her sagging breasts. She didn't dress like a psychic. No glittering scarves or gaudy jewelry. That wouldn't be practical on the farm. Mona dressed like every other farmer. Jeans with plaid, roomy shirts she didn't mind tearing on the pasture fence. The only difference between farm Mona and psychic Mona was her hair. When she was working on the farm, she wore it tied back in a long braid. During readings, it hung long and free.

I breathed in deeply. The room, like Mona, smelled of sweet beeswax and hay. They kept hives on the farm and she used the wax to make candles. She sold them out of her kitchen. The hay was just something that followed you around where we lived. She opened her eyes. It seemed she was ready.

"I asked you to come in for a reading, Winnie, because I had a dream about you two nights ago. I don't usually dream about people I know. My dreams are full of strangers, faces I don't recognize." She tilted her head to the side, considering. "The dead, perhaps. I've always thought I might also be a medium."

I nodded. I was used to this. Mona and my mother, Ruth, had been close friends for as long as I could remember. On the surface, they seemed like very different people but they shared an unconventional sensibility, an eccentric way of moving and being in the world. Mona as a psychic, Ruth as an artist.

"But the other night, I dreamt of you, Winnie. You as a grown woman. You looked different, more like your mother. But it was you, undeniably. Red hair. Same dark brown eyes. You were living somewhere far away. A foreign place that looked a bit like home. Rolling fields, a river. You were happy there. I thought we could try to conjure it, that place. You, there. I thought if I could see it more clearly, we could locate it. See where you're headed in this life."

I wondered how she knew the place was necessarily elsewhere. Looked a bit like home. Sounded like home to me.

"It's been a while since you've done a reading. I'll remind you that I ask you to remain silent throughout the process. When I am done, you are free to ask one question. I will let you know when you can speak. Until that time, please try to sit still to ensure the reading is as accurate as possible."

I suppressed a small laugh as she waved her hands over the bowl of water. This was how she did her readings, how she mined the invented futures of our most gullible neighbours: the recently divorced, the grieving. She claimed to interpret energy as it bounced off the surface of the liquid. As a child, I'd sat for many readings. When I was eleven, Mona told me I would attend eight funerals in the next five years, that I would need a passport by the time I turned fourteen, and that I had been a Salem witch in a past life. The predictions didn't come true and the third claim just seemed absurd. I stopped doing the readings when I realized it was all a hoax. It had been a while and I'd forgotten how seriously she took it.

After several minutes of hand-waving, Mona stopped, stared at the bowl, and frowned. "I'm not seeing that place today," she said. "I'm just seeing home. The valley. You in the valley."

I wanted to say, maybe it was always the valley. Maybe your dream was just like any other dream, a messy pastiche of memory and imagination, snapshots of life cut through with nonsensical intrusions and nothing more.

She continued to wave her hands once again and I realized I needed to pee. Gazing at the bowl of water, unable to move.

"Ah, here's something." Mona brought her hands to her chest and looked at me, suddenly intent. "I'm getting change from you, Winnie. Dramatic change. Everything is going to change for you this summer. You will become a woman. The woman you're meant to be."

She let the words sink in for a few long moments and then continued. "Also, you should avoid anything hot. Definitely don't take up smoking. No bonfires or fireworks, Winnie. I smell smoke in your future."

When the reading was finished, she told me I could ask my question.

I yawned, looking around. "What do you keep in that locked cabinet in the corner?"

Mona turned to face the cabinet behind her and then back at me. Her green eyes were large and blinking. I wasn't doing this right.

"That's all you want to know?"

I shrugged. "I've always wondered."

I'd forgotten about the cabinet, which I had tried to break into as a child. We didn't have locked cabinets or drawers in my house and so it fascinated me, this mysterious space, off limits to anyone who didn't have a key. Mona's son Jake and I took turns guessing what might be inside. I imagined important documents or shiny, expensive jewelry. Maybe even stacks of money. It was fun to think Mona might have another life, exotic and confidential, the evidence hidden behind the cupboard doors. Could she be a spy? A criminal? Nothing about her life or personality suggested this was the case but it was fun to indulge in the fantasy. I liked reading books about people with secret lives—double agents, assassins—and it was thrilling to pretend I might know someone living a life in disguise.

I became obsessed with the locked cabinet. I wanted to open it. I felt entitled to know the truth. On many occasions, Jake looked on, quiet and nervous, while I unsuccessfully stuck a bobby pin in the lock, jiggling and listening for a click, like I had seen people do on TV. Eventually, unsuccessful, I let it go. Of course Mona wasn't a spy. I didn't think she was even a real psychic.

"Winnie, come on. You have nothing else to ask? You only get one question, remember."

I crossed my arms. "Nope."

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Kinmount

Kinmount

edition:Paperback
tagged : humorous

Comedy and tragey are mainstays in the worst directing gig for an amateur production of Romeo and Juliet for an eccentric producer in Ontario farm country.

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They pulled into Lola's driveway at three p.m.She greeted them in a floral one-piece jumpsuit that would've given Ertha Kitt pause. "Hey kids!" she gushed, wobbling down her cobblestones. "Come on in. Cocktails are on.""Lola, we're tired. Let's get them unpacked first," said Dave."Nonsense," she insisted, ushering the pair up her front steps. He pulled B.J.'s bike out of the hatch and left it on the lawn to be assembled. He then wheeled Miranda's bike around back, prudishly leaning it against the fountain (Professor Murray wouldn't be thrilled knowing that his daughter's bike was chained to a cement penis.) Lola's garden was a neo-classical nightmare, featuring a disturbing cluster of homemade phallic sculptures. Disturbing enough to cause Socrates to swallow hemlock prematurely. He lugged her suitcases to the front foyer and heard laughter emanating from the dining room. "Fifty drunken goat-clad priests dancing around a giant phallus, can you imagine it?" Lola was saying. Plop went the jalapeño peppers for emphasis. "You telling your choric dithyramb stories again," Dave said, entering the candlelit room. More wax dripping than usual. Lola had regaled him with her colourful account of Greek mythology during his last stay. The choric dithyramb was the orgiastic ascendant of car key swapping sugar bowl parties in the 1970s. In ancient Greece, fifty drunken goat-skin priests danced around a giant phallus chanting odes to Dionysus, the God of Swingers."I'm enlightening our young thespians on the backyard.""I think you've enlightened this room enough. Can we not blow out a few candles? It's stifling in here.""Do you two mind them?" she asked, refilling her drink and pouring him a martini."House rules," B.J. said diplomatically, wiping a bead of sweat off his brow."They're lovely. So romantic," Miranda gushed. "B.J., can you do something with your turnips, please? Bury them in the backyard or something," Dave said while exiting to the kitchen to pour his drink down the sink."You can put them in the fridge in the basement, B.J.," Lola offered."Thanks.""Through that door," she gestured. "Switch is at the top of the stairs."B.J. and Chickpea grabbed his turnip bundle and disappeared. Dave was unsure of what to make of B.J.'s purple parrot hand puppet. He'd developed an uneasiness around puppets after surviving the ill-fated Green Eggs and Hamlet children's tour."So, my sweet little thing, tell me about your father," Lola grinned, refilling Miranda's glass."Lola, she just got here. Easy on the third degree," Dave jumped in, returning from the kitchen."Nonsense. Is he handsome? A Byron I bet." Lola's eyes lit up."He's more of a Somerset Maugham. It's his favourite author. His specialty at U of T. He's obsessed with our inability to control our emotions. He says it constitutes bondage." Miranda answered with a detectable strain in her voice that Dave picked up on. "Ah, I see. 'It is an illusion that youth is happy,'" said Lola, quoting Of Human Bondage. "You concur?" "I'm happy most of the time," Miranda replied, twiddling the pepper in her glass."Of course you are and so you should be--such a pretty little thing. I could eat you with jam.""Lola!" Dave exploded."What? We're just getting acquainted aren't we, dear?""Yes. Is there a washroom I can use?" asked Miranda."Up the stairs, my dear. The lavender door. Cranberry towel set is for you.""Oh, that's so nice. Thank you." And she left the room."Don't look at me that way.""Lola, please go a little easy until they get to know you. Miranda is not one of your student boarders." God knows what went on there, he thought. "I don't want her calling her father and telling him she danced naked around a hedge cock on her first night.""Your first reading isn't until three tomorrow. Let them have some fun tonight." She picked out a bottle of scotch from behind the bar."Your idea of fun and the rest of humanity's are very different," he replied matter-of-factly. "If you're going to be like that, why don't you just go to your room and mope.""I want them working on their scripts tonight and rested for tomorrow. Please, set an example," he said, taking the bottle from her. "Fine," she snorted and stormed out of the room. He heard her clumping up the stairs, slamming her bedroom door."Shit," he muttered to himself."Have you been down there?" B.J. asked, dusting himself off as he emerged from the cellar. "No. I have a thing about basements.""Fifty heads hanging on the wall. A wild boar, a black bear, a huge moose.""She used to hunt. With a crossbow.""That's messed up.""Uh-huh.""Even a cougar with a pair of boxers in its mouth!" exclaimed Chickpea, back in action. "Fitting." Dave thought of the Nurse on the prowl on a Saturday night. "The Hemingway suite she calls it. Lola's a little on the eccentric side. In case you hadn't noticed.""Ah, she's harmless," Chickpea squawked in a high-pitched vibrato. "Yeah, she's harmless," Dave repeated the phrase, chewing on an ice cube. B.J. sat down and rolled a joint with Chickpea. "You might want to take that outside.""Right," said B.J. and Chickpea together. Dave wondered how that was even possible.The trio retired to the backyard."Where's Miranda?" asked B.J."Washroom.""Don't worry. I only toke at night," B.J. volunteered, sensing Dave's uneasiness."Good. I didn't want to have to ask," Dave said. He quickly changed the subject. "Not exactly a garden that fosters tea and scones." "Only if Oscar Wilde were a guest," Chickpea joked while B.J. inspected his herbs. "Yeah, don't bring that up. Lola will want to have a séance."They shared a laugh."Hey, guys." Miranda joined them, pulling her hair away from her mouth. "This place is so cool. Do you know there's a mobile with cherubs copulating hanging in the bathroom?""At least there isn't lipstick scrawled on the mirror," Dave said."Oh, but there is." "What?" "A greeting. 'Welcome thespians. May love blossom in these rooms.'""Great," Dave said hotly, opening the back-screen door and entering the kitchen. "Please don't fret. I think she's lovely," Miranda shouted after him."She's just eccentric," Chickpea offered up, flapping his wings. He passed the joint to Miranda who didn't decline.The sound of a bell ringing and getting closer pierced the evening quiet. A gunshot rang out from the front yard, followed by a boy's scream.The trio raced to the driveway only to see Lola brandishing a pellet gun and screaming at a terrified Dickie Dee ice cream boy cringing on the sidewalk. His front tire was shot out. Other neighbours were opening their front doors."I've warned you three times. Don't ring that fucking bell in front of my house!" Lola wailed.

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Pallbearing

Pallbearing

Stories
edition:eBook
also available: Paperback

An honest and unaffected collection of human experiences that deftly tackles themes of grief, loss, missed opportunities, and the pain of letting go.

The stories in Michael Melgaard’s poignant debut collection Pallbearing offer candid snapshots of life in a small town, where the struggle to make ends meet forces people into desperate choices. In “Little to Lose,” a son confronts his mother over the crushing prison of debt created by her gambling addiction. The aging divorcée in “Coming a …

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The coffin was awkward to carry; the weight threw off the pallbearers’ balance, and their closeness to each other caused them to walk in a short, shuffle step. Jonathan was surprised by the weight; it seemed heavy, at first, but a few steps later, he wondered if maybe it was actually lighter than it should be. The wood was, after all, quite dense. But by the end she had been so thin, something he then tried not to think about. He decided that he had no basis for comparison. There was no reason to think the coffin was either heavy or light; experientially, it was exactly the weight all coffins he had ever handled weighed.

Jonathan tried to counterbalance by throwing one arm out to the side, but then thought having one arm flapping maybe looked disrespectful. Instead, he put it across his body and used it to help with the weight. The others struggled too. The natural burial field was riddled with little holes and clods of dirt. He wondered again why they hadn’t lifted it up on their shoulders. He was sure that’s what they should have done, but it was too late to do anything about it.

Then they were coming up on the hole in the ground. There were wide, canvas straps across it, the straps wrapped around a metal frame so the coffin could rest over the grave. The pallbearers walked on either side and stopped. A pallbearer opposite Jonathan shifted his grip, the coffin rocked and when it stopped, something inside kept moving for a moment. Jonathan tried not to think about that while they lowered the coffin into place.

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Polar Vortex

Polar Vortex

edition:Paperback
also available: eBook Audiobook

Longlisted for the 2020 Scotiabank Giller Prize

Some secrets never die...

Priya and Alexandra have moved from the city to a picturesque countryside town. What Alex doesn't know is that in moving, Priya is running from her past—from a fraught relationship with an old friend, Prakash, who pursued her for many years, both online and off. Time has passed, however, and Priya, confident that her ties to Prakash have been successfully severed, decides it's once more safe to establish an online presence …

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The Union of Smokers

The Union of Smokers

edition:Paperback
tagged : coming of age

Huckleberry Finn meets The Catcher in the Rye meets Ferris Bueller’s Day Off in this outlandish debut novel.

Kaspar Pine begins his day with a simple task: replace a pet canary. By day’s end, as Kaspar is being loaded into an ambulance, he delivers one hell of a "theme essay," covering such subjects as his ability to source and catalogue the cigarettebutts he harvests; information on maintaining the social order of chickens, along with general and historic farming details that run from Saskat …

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Wendy, Master of Art

Wendy, Master of Art

edition:Hardcover
tagged : literary

The existential dread of making (or not making) art takes center stage in this trenchant satire of MFA culture

Wendy is an aspiring contemporary artist whose adventures have taken her to galleries, art openings, and parties in Los Angeles, Tokyo, and Toronto. In Wendy, Master of Art, Walter Scott's sly wit and social commentary zero in on MFA culture as our hero decides to hunker down and complete a master of fine arts at the University of Hell in small-town Ontario.

Finally Wendy has space to ref …

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