Not long ago I attended a mish-mash of storytelling and music at the Yukon Arts Centre, and what drew me there was my favourite storyteller, Ivan E. Coyote, about whom I’ve written before.
At the show, I got my hands on her latest collection of short stories, Missed Her, and as is the usual habit when reading her books, I couldn’t put it down.
Try saying the title out loud, and you’ll soon discover that it sounds like “mister”, which continues with her theme dealing with “fluidity in gender and sexuality, much like Coyote’s previous work.”*
The thread of her stories have a serious message with cringe moments scattered here and there, and they either leave you chuckling or pondering. Or both. Beautiful. Powerful.
And to give you just a little taste of her writing, here are some bits and pieces of language that left imprints for me:
“Ever heard of a place called Pink Mountain? [...] You can get a tire fixed and buy an Alaska Highway hunting knife with a fake bone handle made right there in China…”
“…a narrow hallway humbly covered in decades-old carpet hammered down by thousands of work boots and dress shoes, a worn-out roadmap that directed me to a doorway.”
“The midnight sun stretched the light so far and long that dusk was bent over backward enough to bump into the next day.”
“He was wearing brand new sneakers, so white they caught the sunlight and bounced it right back, bleaching the backs of my eyelids when I closed them.”
“She blurted out her words like machine gun bullets, like she had been rehearsing them for a while, her mouth pursed in a determined little raisin.”
“…trying not to let the tears spill over my bottom lids…”
“I needed a barber. A good, old-fashioned, wait-your-turn-twelve-bucks-take-a-little-off-the-top kind of guy…”
“Their chubby knees scrubbed and squishing out of the tops of sparkling white knee socks.”
And one powerful quote reminded me of a young fella in a school where I subbed a few years ago. He had been teased mercilessly about his gender. And I happened to notice he was in the audience that night:
“I hoped that the new pride he held in his shoulders wasn’t going to be pounded out of him in gym class, or while he tried to learn trigonomometry. I felt sad, but mostly I felt rage. Rage that we are beginning the second decade of the twenty-first century in what is supposed to be one of the most liberal and progressive countries in the world and still we haven’t made our schools safe for kids like him. That something as vital to his future as his education happens in a culture of fear and under the threat of violence.”*www.straight.com