Everything Is So Political
A Collection of Short Fiction by Canadian Writers
Everything Is So Political, ‘a collection of short fiction by Canadian writers’, has changed my outlook on Canadian prowess in the genre. I always assumed that Canadian short stories were kind of boring stuff that never really moved me much beyond the level of a quasi-patriotic beer commercials; fluff jobs; anchors thrown to the drowning masses desperate for a Canadian identity.
These stories are like jabs to the head from a skilled boxer; unsettling, disturbing, emotion-evoking little tidbits. And the tinny taste of your own blood from your split lip? That’s enough to keep you in the ring, strangely fixated by the literary punishment your mind in taking.
These are trash-talking, back-alley, pass the moonshine around the drum fire stories. These stories don’t make you feel good about yourself and they won’t validate your outlook on the Canadian dream. You’ll probably have more questions about this place and your role in it than you did before you picked the book up.
That’s a good thing.
These are the stories of the executioner, the drug addict, the lost artist, the vegan throwing fake blood on her father’s circus and the Indigenous child on the wrong side of the tracks in racist 1940s Port Arthur. They’ll break your knee cap, if they let you live, or they might just shave your head on your way to the firing line.
This isn’t your ‘Gee, it’s hard to understand if there is a coherent Canadian identity’ group of short stories that has me throwing up my hands in disgust quicker than a mind-numbing false innocence round of Cross-Country Checkup. These stories don’t even bother with it. They’re the blinding glimpses into the future, the gasps from a past crying to be heard and the unsettling moans from a broken box spring mattress.
Editor Sandra McIntyre has done a great job of scouring the literary landscape for these stories and has gathered together a collection from a genre that can sometimes seem lofty, high-brow and inaccessible.
Don’t get me wrong. These are well-crafted and demanding pieces that hang in the air as sharply as spilt champagne on your dinner jacket. The waft, however, is more Listerine before noon on the homeless man’s breath. They can’t be as easily shrugged off as a trip to the dry cleaners.
I’m waiting for volume II.
–Miles Howe, May 27, 2013