Tag Archives: Cassandra Cronenberg

“I was most pleasantly surprised by the humour that was found in it.” | Q&A with novelist Cassandra Cronenberg

It is amazing the things I find in the “New Releases” sections of bookstores and libraries. That is where I discovered Cassandra Cronenberg novella Down The Street. (Link to my review) In it, Cronenberg has brought forward a familiar tale of so many people we know and witness going through a mental and emotional crisis. A brilliant yet complex book, it attempts to enlighten us to grasp what is going on with so many family members and friends we have seen go through a meltdown yet are unable to help. Cronenberg answered a few questions for me via email recently

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1) How has the reaction been to “Down The Street” been since it was released? Have there been any memorable responses to it you care to share?

A: Very good, I think. I have been very happy with the response. Yes, I guess I was most pleasantly surprised by the humour that was found in it. And some one said the main character was sweet and vicious, I think she said.

2)  Your bio page on your website lists you as “painter, writer and filmmaker.” Is writing something you enjoy doing as compared as the two other endeavours you partake in? 

A: Yes, I do enjoy writing very much. Writing and painting.

3) The cover art of “Down The Street” is listed as something you did. Is it a piece you did specifically for the book? 

A: No, not in it’s original form. I did however, photograph the original piece in black and white for the book and then they cropped it and turned it upside down. I’m very happy with the cover. They did a great job.

4) How did you get involved with Quattro Books?

A writer friend of mine suggested that I send to them.

5) Who are your favourite writers? What are you reading right now?

Salinger, Dostoyevsky, Kafka, Paul Auster, William Burroughs, Jack Kerouac, Silvia Plath, Virginia Wolf, Charlotte Perkins Gilman (although I haven’t read very much of the last three), Margaret Atwood’s early work, some Timothy Findley, Robertson Davies, Henry Miller, Anais Nin. Also Stephen King

I just started re-reading Head Hunter and recently read Jesse Gilmour’s book, The Green Hotel, which is very good, also published by Quattro Fiction, and my father’s book Consumed.

6) Have you done any public readings for “Down The Street?” Has it been used for any reading circles or book clubs? If yes to any of those questions, how did you feel in participating in those events. If no, is it something you would like to partake in?

A: Yes, two public readings and one on the radio. No book clubs as of yet. Yes, I learned a lot about my writing giving readings.

7) Are you working on any new fiction right now? If yes, are there details you can share? If no, why not? 

A: No. That’s a difficult question to answer; it’s all interconnected right now. And at the beginning, so to speak.

8) You seem to have an active role on social-media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. How do you like your experience with those programs?

A: Social media is an interesting tool. I have grown using these platforms; there are also many holes one can fall down. I think it can help when the work you do is mainly solitary. It also stores my information and reflects it back, and you can edit it! It is a bit of a trap as far as self-promotion goes, however.

9) You opened the book with the phrase “No characters or events are based on any reality” yet it seems that Itessa is such a familiar figure. Where did the notion of her come from?

A: Her name came from a Music Dictionary I picked up second hand, originally it was Istessa, it is an Italian word for tempo. And then I dropped the s. It’s funny because she doesn’t have an iphone or anything, so she really is Itessa before all of that, she is just discovering the on-line world really. That phrase is kind of a disclaimer and facetious at the same time.

10) The narrative of “Down The Street” in not a common one for most novels. Is the term ‘streams of consciousness’ the right term for the type for the book. Was it difficult to write in that style?

A: I think “streams of consciousness” is exactly right although my editor wasn’t so sure either, which still confuses me. It was very easy to write like that.

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Link to Cassandra Cronenberg’s website

Link to Quattro Books page for Down The Street

What is she thinking? | Review of “Down The Street” by Cassandra Cronenberg (2014) Quattro Books

Street

We all have that friend who starts to act dangerously irrational. We all have looked at them at wondered at what they are thinking as they act and do odd things. Cassandra Cronenberg has given us insight into one such mind as it starts to go through a mental breakdown in her novella Down The Street.

Page 7

DOWN THE STREET, on the street, these lyrics can’t be beat. This is my head don’t destroy it. “I gotta place to be to be,” he said. “I gotta place to be,” he said, bouncing along the street as he often did and always did and always did before and forever. This is the way he walks; this is the way he walks. He/she, he/she, he/she, this is where it is, the never-ending flow, why does there have to be finality? Why doe there have to be a finality? Can it not keep going? Can it not keep going?

“THIS IS SHE.”

This is a girl’s life, the life of a girl, not the life of this hustler, this hustler who is on the street doing coke, living to the beat, coughing and cursing and hurting, this is not his life this is my life. This is my life now. “What do you want?” he said to me once and I crossed my hands in front of me and back out and jutted my chin to him and he said, “I’ll remember that for next time.” A fight, I wanted a fight

While this book is only 142 pages, it is a complex novella and shouldn’t be rushed through. Cronenberg goes from one thought to the next (known as streams of consciousness) of the protagonist as she deals with not only the collapse of her marriage and the raising of her children but deals with her desires and her impulses. The language is frank and bold yet not too complex.

Page 49

That night in bed I had a fever and it was like my shoulder was dislocated. I started on antibiotics the next day.  At first I thought I had completely fucked everything up by that last visit and I could never go in and would have to move and never go in again and that destroyed me, although someday to live in the Annex would be cool, not now though, my community was here and the thought of not dating him was fine because we were already together. I am abstaining from sex anyway, so . . . I do need his music though.

My friend who has been trying to bag the boys at Terroni jinxed me by saying, “Remember when you made me that mixed tape?” to one of them. Now she just works/lives there, every meeting, etc.,  but I now know we are special to each other and a mixed tape still signifies something special, as does dinner; if he made me dinner, I would just about die. His boss was right. “I bet you want that (blank fill in the words) now don’t you?” Yes, I want the tape and the dinner, yes, yes I do. How are we going to get there?

We seek cultural items out to give us quick answers and that is a mistake. We should be engaging culture to give us an insight – if not an understanding – of subjects around us. That is what Cronenberg has done with this novella, given us an insight into a mind of somebody we have pondered about – an ex-girlfriend, a sister, a friend, a daughter, whatever. We can’t have easy answers to our complex lives but we can have a bit of insight to the thoughts of others.

Page 80

The Conversation with my ex was the first we had had that was good in a while, really good, about the girls, and I was, am, stoned. There you go, women in need or pot to get in touch with their emotions. Well, I needed that for sure.

Shit, I’m old. I’m too old. That woman at the counter, in the coffee shop, even if my coffee friend talked about me to her and the “hi” was because I was standing there and he didn’t think I would come in. He needs to be with someone young like himself. I am too old, I’m having a midlife crisis, perhaps; I mean the thought had crossed my mind. Going through all the boys and men in my life, and they are young.

“Night and day,” he said, as he followed my gaze out the window to a mother and daughter running together. Running with the girls and not.

Down The Street by Cassandra Cronenberg is a complex novella that gives insight to a confused mind to somebody we all know. A brilliant and bold read that is frank in it’s language. A great piece of literature.

Link to Cassandra Cronenberg’s website

Link to Quattro Books page for “Down The Street”