Sunday, July 15, 2012

Reading Journal: The Journey Prize Stories, Vol. 23 (2011)

I enjoyed all but one of these 10 stories - I won't name the odd one out - and it was great to re-read Jessica Westhead, ("What I Would Say"), and Michael Christie, ("The Extra"), from collections previously discussed in this space. New to me, in particular, was the winner, Miranda Hill - a choice I agreed with, as opposed to Journeys past - whose "Petitions to Saint Chronic" incisively brings together three characters' stories in a hospital, viscerally and affectingly, in a work that will stay with you long after you've finished. I also found D.W. Wilson's "The Dead Roads" to be a spicy shakeup to the overdone Young Canadian Road Story. Fran Kimmel's "Laundry Day" was a delicious slice of dirty realist pie, and Michelle Winters's "Toupée" - on its face, about working in a restaurant - did the most with the least, and snuck up on the reader before its ending, subverting expectations you didn't realize were there and forcing you to go back to find out where she set you up. Though it's slim compared to previous volumes, it's a group well-selected by two Giller-nominated short story writers previously discussed here, Sarah Selecky and Alexander MacLeod, as well as Booker-longlisted novelist Alison Pick.

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