A Reckless Moon / Dianne Warren
Vancouver: Raincoast, c2002.
This is the final book I read for the Canadian Book Challenge, and it just squeaked in under the wire for inclusion this year! It is a collection of short stories by the author of one of my favourite books so far this year, Cool Water.
It was an excellent read, with seven stories that are all distinct. I enjoy Warren's writing, the way she exhibits traits of each individual, and the way the stories aren't 'about' something, the way they aren't neatly tied up at the conclusion into some kind of lesson. They are open ended and yet endlessly intriguing.
I can't go into each story or this review would run into hundreds of words... so I'll just talk a little about my favourites.
The Bone Garden is a story of two teenagers, disaffected and parted when the girl Carmen, has to go to Saskatoon with her family for her brother's soccer tournament. Moe, her boyfriend, feels compelled to see her and ends up stealing a car belonging to Daisy, a social worker, who tracks him down. These three characters intersect and we learn more about each of their lives, even while poor Carmen is left alone in the hotel and goes for a walk. She experiences a very strange hotel, full of a garden with a stream and a revolving restaurant and a tearoom. (this hotel has shades of one I know of in Saskatoon so it isn't all that far fetched, just a little exaggerated perhaps!) Carmen finds that she isn't necessarily the troublemaker in all situations, and the surreal nature of the hotel makes the events of the story perfectly plausible. Moe and Daisy both appear in the end, having tracked her down, right after she has jumped into the pool fully dressed. There is no judgement given, just the thoughts of Daisy and of Carmen's mother as they see what is happening. When I first started the story I wasn't too taken by it, and skipped it to go back to later. But I couldn't get the characters out of my mind, and I ended up really liking it.
The title story reminds me of Cool Water in a way -- there are horses and family disagreements involved. Warren's characters draw you in even if they aren't obviously appealing. They are drawn so fully that each feels real, even those who aren't the main focus of the story. I love the background she adds in so gradually, and the twists at the endings of her stories. Perhaps I enjoyed this one particularly as they pass through my hometown on their road trip, and the roads they are travelling were all too familiar.
In any case, each of the stories in this book stand alone as a separate reading experience. My least favourite was Tuxedo, a story of a girl whose best friend's father (a doctor)has been charged with sexual improprieties. She knows only too well that he is guilty, but can not say anything. Although I say this was my least favourite, it is just a matter of degrees, as I found every story in this collection well done and satisfying reading.
Definitely worth reading if you are in the mood for some good short stories. And don't forget Cool Water if you are in the mood for a wonderful novel.