A book of short stories published by Inanna Publications, 2016.
Like the many surfaces of a gemstone, the varied aspects of human experience link the short stories in this book. Themes of finding one's identity; conflicts of family, career and romance; loneliness, death, loss, and feelings of displacement; youth and aging; courage and fear; human frailty; spirituality; compassion and manifestations of evil, all are at the heart of this compelling collection. Humour is present in every story, no matter the seriousness of its content.
The stories are set in Canada (Toronto); the U.S. (Philadelphia; New Jersey; California); Poland (Warsaw); and England (London). Of the book's eleven stories, the one bearing its title portrays a satirical microcosm of our fragmented contemporary society, a candle-lit dinner party of six disparate guests at a Canadian cottage on an isolated island in the middle of a lake at the height of a Gothic storm.
The remaining stories dramatize aspects of nature in their diverse guises: a brilliant concert pianist, graduate of Buchenwald and Majdanek, courageously asserts life over evil; in a satirically humourous affirmation of self, a middle-aged woman confronts a plastic surgeon urging a face lift; an elderly woman, trapped in her role as a mother and grandmother, offers a sadly reflective, frequently amusing, account of her inability to assert to her family what it is she desires; (a prose-poem): a seventy-year old woman on her death bed makes plans for her next dinner party; a Holocaust survivor fashions random natural objects into sculptures, determined to impose order out of chaos; a forty-something woman, struggling to find her voice, finally, in a proud satiric blast, confronts her doctor and, by extension, the male medical profession; a frightened, confused, aging woman, in varying moments of nostalgia, self-pity and humourous recognition, laments her aloneness and loss: of memory, her home, independence, youth, beauty; the same woman faces societal changes she no longer understands; a young woman pianist, striving for career and identity, is conflicted by love for her master teacher; a young mother, forever explaining her husband and sons each to the other, seeks to fathom where her own self has disappeared. In other words, the stories speak to the human condition. Aspects of nature.