My rating: 4/10. These are cleverly written, but a little too far out there for me. I wouldn’t re-read any of these anytime soon, and if I’d never heard of Greg Hollingshead it wouldn’t break my heart.
This collection won the 1995 Governor General’s Award for English Fiction – Short Stories, and the contents are undeniably well-written, but most of the stories left me feeling more than a mite confused, and usually a whole lot disturbed. Hollingshead has a creative mind and a grand way with words – some of his phrases lift up off the page and vigorously come to life – but it’s all kind of kinky. Often humorous, but definitely dark. Lots of sex – mostly of the “ew!” nature – and deeply twisted thoughts.
I’m not going to spend any time deeply reviewing this one, because it would require me to spend more time in Greg’s head (as it were) and, quite frankly, I don’t want to. I’ll be moving The Roaring Girl along to see if it can find a more suitable home.
- The Side of the Elements – A couple rents out their home for the year they must be away. Stuff goes on in their absence. This one I rather liked.
- The People of the Sudan – A family is maneuvered into taking temporary care of a box full of Canadian Christian Relief “supplies” for someone going to the Sudan; the rendezvous goes awry and the situation goes surreal. Another good one; downright humorous.
- Rose Cottage – A young man becomes involved in trying to fix what he believes is an abusive relationship between a nurse and her elderly charge.
- The Roaring Girl – A transient girl is given temporary haven by a family, deeply affecting the adolescent son.
- The Age of Reason – Some sort of dysfunctional family saga. I have no idea what this was all about!
- Rat With Tangerine – Ditto.
- A Night at the Palace – This one was a complete nightmare – couldn’t finish it. People behaving strangely. And badly. Hallucinogenic.
- The Appraisal – Oh, thank goodness – an actual narrative arc! Well, relatively speaking. A cottage appraisal turns into a conversation on the nature of civilization, and its impending collapse. Awesome – loved it.
- The Death of Brulé – A young boy becomes involved with the older girl next door. Ick.
- The Naked Man – Another absolutely surreal family tale.
- How Happy They Were – Sad people; love gone wrong.
- Walking on the Moon – The view from a roof overlooking the people next door. Odd.
So – out of these twelve there were four I kind of, sort of, almost enjoyed reading. The Appraisal is the only one I’d willingly seek out again. Goodbye, Roaring Girl!