Biblioasis

Humour, heart, and a jam sandwich

She tackles loftier themes, but I love the way Rebecca Rosenblum writes about food. Her stories’ cupboards and refrigerators are filled with Lunchables, Snackwiches, and seemingly every other pre-packaged, processed food product in existence, foods that we don’t often give a lot of thought to in daily life. In Rosenblum’s writing we can’t help but notice, we can’t help but laugh, and we also can’t help but think about what it means to live in an era when something called Crackerz’n’cheze exists. Plus anyway a character who reflects upon the comparative quality of a real Jos Louis and a generic brand Jos Louis is the kind of character I’ll follow for pages and pages and pages. This, however, is probably not a terribly surprising statement coming from someone with stories with titles like “Hot Dogs on Everything” and “Casual Sex Bookended by Two Gratuitous Hot Dog Pizza Scenes” in his repertoire.

Rosenblum’s second collection is The Big Dream and I reviewed it this past weekend on The Rover.

Among the many charms that made Once, Rebecca Rosenblum’s 2008 debut, such an outstanding book, was the way the author wrote about jobs. From a fruit factory to a hotel laundry, from an IT department to a bookstore, Once was filled with genuine, vivid observations of the world of work, capturing both the loathing and the grudging affection for the things we do to pay the rent.

But whereas Once featured a grab-bag of jobs, the focus of Rosenblum’s second collection,The Big Dream, is on office work. These thirteen stories are linked by a single employer: Dream, Inc., a lifestyle magazine publisher. Besides the hallways and cubicles and cluttered lunchroom refrigerators, the characters in The Big Dream are also connected by the pursuit of balance; balance between work and family, work and lovers, ex-lovers, health, and everything else that makes up a life.

Full review here.

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True Gloom

Along with Montreal Expos pyjamas and king size versions of chocolate bars, nothing grabs my attention like a horse head on a human body. The latter, in the form of a beautiful photograph by Gabrielle de Montmollin, can be found in all its creepy glory on the cover of Cathy Stonehouse’s debut short story collection Something About the Animal (Biblioasis, 2011). My review, free of superficial cover art observations, recently appeared on The Rover.

The stories in Cathy Stonehouse’s debut collection depict life as a series of sad, violent, and sometimes insane acts. Fittingly, they are populated by sad, violent, and sometimes insane characters. This is not uplifting, syrupy beach reading. Something About the Animal is a dark, often unsettling book that remains true to its own gloomy fictional universe.

Full review here.