Monthly Archives: March 2020

When Emotions Impair Good Judgement | Review of “Bad Ideas” by Missy Marston (2019) ECW Press

We all have looked back at decisions in our lives with regret. Why did we do “x” when “y” was the smarter choice at the time. Yet our emotions and our desires guide our decisions at times that push us into scenarios we cannot escape from. Missy Marston has documented such situations in her novel Bad Ideas in a brilliant and at times humorous means that is enlightening to read.

Page 9 Because they had no right

It was April 1978. Mercy was only four years old and it seemed like the whole town had turned grey. The grey river washed against the grey shore. The grey trees stood against the grey sky, biding their time, refusing to bloom. Trudy and Mercy were sitting in a booth at the back of the Jubilee, and Mercy was peeling the cheese off her slice of pizza and cramming it into her mouth, her little hands covered in sauce. Trudy was smoking, staring past Mercy out the front window of the restaurant, when the door opened and the bells jingled. Two men came in, laughing so hard that they staggered and bumped against each other as they made their way past the front counter.

Both tall. Both lean.

The story deals with a collection of people in a small town along the St. Lawrence River who are trying to etch out an existence while trying to deal with love and the loss of love. We witness Trudy and her mother Claire. They both look after Mercy, the four-year-old daughter of Trudy’s sister, who has faded from the scene. In this muddle milieu, there are some hard looks at relationships and the heartache they create. Everyone seems set in their mindsets until a crazy daredevil shows up in town in a rocket car, preparing to jump the huge river. And Trudy – who is dead set against anything romantic – falls irrationally for the stunt driver.

Page 138

Today was a crying day.

There she was when Trudy got home, collapsed in a lawn chair by the back door, head in hands, crying her heart out. It mad Trudy feel tired to see her there. It sucked the life out of her. She squeezed her mother’s shoulder as she walked past her and into her house. Mercy was kneeling on the couch, a Barbie doll in each fist. She had the dolls facing each other, balanced on the tiptoes on the arm of the couch. She shook them a bit so their hair swung around.

“Grandma’s crying again.”

“I saw that.”

Bad Ideas by Missy Marston is a unique work of fiction that documents a complex reality of human emotions. The writing is simple and direct, making a read that is reflective to many people. In short, a great read.

****

The Uncertainty Of New Truths | Review of "The Electric Baths" by Jean-Michel Fortier/Translated by Katherine Hastings (To be Released July 1, 2020) QC Fiction

cover of book

I received an Advance Reading Copy of this book from the publisher.

No doubt, we have all been vaulted in a new reality. Overnight, as we go through the current crisis that has us all pushed into an era of ‘social-isolationism’ and ‘economic uncertainty.’ We all sit alone at times pondering our previous existence and wondering how our future will look. But people have been in this situation before, dealing with both the fear and the absurdity of a tense unknown that is beyond their control or understanding. Just like the citizens of the county of *** that Jean-Michel Fortier documents in the novel The Electric Baths.

Long, white, jagged flashes of lightning zigzagged in the sky. At Spencer Wood, Sarah Rosenberg couldn’t sleep, terrorized by the lightning and rain, a troubling combination that evoked in her mind all the bizarreness of the electric baths, of what was slumbering two storeys below, beneath her feet, and that would perhaps awake, would certainly awake, if the thunder rumbled any louder.

Fortier has written an interesting read here. The citizens of this community are dealing with an uncanny series of events and emotions that are puzzling and in many cases hard to define. In the midst of this confusion, there is the return of Louise Beurre – or “Louisa Louis” as she was called on stage. After 13 years abroad, she has come back with stories of stages and spotlights and lost loves. But no one is eager to listen or believe her.

This is a book that should not be rushed through. There are subtle situations and play-on words that provide with brilliant “a-ha” moments to readers who are interested in the human condition and – even more – human thoughts and the human mind. A complex read yet one that is unique.

But, most of all Jean-Michel Fortier’s The Electric Baths, is certainly one read for our times.

*****

Link to QC Fiction’s webpage for The Electric Baths