Firstly, apologies for my long absence. I’m finally finished school for the year and ready to blog.
Even before I wrote my last exam I was aching to read a good book. I’m an English major so yes, I do read books – good books – throughout the school year. But I assume many people would agree reading for pleasure and reading for school are vastly different, it’s the difference between relaxing by the pool or swimming laps. Maybe not. My similes are a little rusty.
So I was aching to read a good book. I went to the fiction section of a nearby library and pulled out a couple options. I had never heard of any of them and I was partially going by the taboo, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” I picked up Stunt, by Claudia Dey, an acclaimed Canadian playwright who I had never heard of. According to the back cover, Lisa Moore and Michael Winter gave raving revues – I think I mentioned my adoration for those two in a previous blog – and Stunt is Dey’s first novel. I am usually very adept at picking random gems off the shelves and have had a lot of good luck with debut novels so I checked it out and brought it home where it sat until I finished exams.
Stuntis set in Toronto in the 1980s. Toronto has never been portrayed in such a hauntingly, mysteriously beautiful light. Told in the voice of Eugenia – a tight rope walker in training – who lives with her sister, Immaculata, her father Sheb Wooly Ledoux, and her mother, Mink until Sheb disappears, soon followed by Mink’s departure. The nine year olds, Eugenia and Immaculata, instantaneously double in age and set off into the world.
I will refrain from attempting a more detailed summary because there is no way to properly convey this book in such a short space and I could never hope to do it justice. Stunt is saturated with beautiful language and convoluted narratives. Eugeneia’s queer circumstances and even queerer self form the epitome of an unreliable narrator. Dey’s readers are forced to think critically and analytically as they are presented a story through a warped and mangled lens. Called by some a, “surrealist coming of age story,” the characters either give in to their basest urges and explore their deepest psychoanalytic drives or embody a transcendental form of enlightenment, or both.
I feel as if I’ve been away. As if I’ve stood at the bottom of an ocean floor. Walked through snow thick as a blindfold. Been dragged behind a horse, pine gum in my hair. And now, returned, I have misplaced some things and forfeited others. In their absence, new things have chuted in to claim their place. They are just slightly harder to the touch, bones that much more fused. I stop in front of the beautician’s window to inventory, not sure what form they’ll take, these souvenirs. I could have a tricycle in my pocket. I could be covered in moon dust. I could have gloom for eyes. I could be cured with salt.
Tragic, joyous, sepulchral and beautiful; Stunt is one of those precious books I found by accident.