Canadian Notes & Queries

OH, MY DARLING
by Shaena Lambert

“You love to read myths and fairy tales; stories with dark centres. The children always perk up, lean forward. Why? Because something is at stake: death has entered the building.” That something must be at stake is as fine a description as any for what makes a story work; it’s also, in a way, the nexus between fiction and life. Borrowing from corporate parlance (not necessarily a good idea), you might say that this makes readers narrative “stakeholders.” And yet that is what makes Shaena Lambert’s second collection of stories so fiercely good: she makes us feel we personally have an stake in each of her short, sharp tales. Read more…

THE WOMAN UPSTAIRS
by Claire Messud

In the spring of 2013, Claire Messud famously lost her shit with a writer from Publisher’s Weekly who commented, in regard to Nora Eldridge, the protagonist from her novel The Woman Upstairs: “I wouldn’t want to be friends with Nora, would you? Her outlook is almost unbearably grim.” Messud replied: Read more…

LOVE AND THE MESS WE’RE IN
by Stephen Marche

Love and the Mess We’re In is a simple tale about three people acrobatically told through a series of unconventional text layouts (unconventional for a novel, that is, less so for poetry) and type design. Viv, a writer from Toronto, is married to Tim, an ornithologist who has gone mad and is now permanently institutionalized. The stress of her caregiver role has led Viv to seek solace in the arms of Clive, a journalist who also happens to be Tim’s best friend. When Viv agrees to join Clive in Buenos Aires, where he’s researching a story about Iraqi art theft, both of them know the real reason they’re there. Read more…