Thursday, July 08, 2004

Kelly Cooper, Eyehill.

I picked this one up after it was reviewed in the Globe & Mail's "First Fiction" column. This book may just be the best collection of short fiction I've ever read.

The writing feels like I imagine Saskatchewan: yes, I know that sounds trite, but the writing is simultaneously spare and evocative. These are stories that are well-crafted, but don't feel so polished as to be solely art pieces. Cooper uses a mimetic style that is far and away one of the more arresting descriptive styles I've seen in a long time.

These pieces are about relationships not fully understood: one character to another, one character to a town, people to places. All of these relationships have something to do with Eyehill, and with the morality that belongs to a farming community: you can't shoot another man's dog, it's hard to talk about the fact that you've had no kids, what it means to look out from the top of a grain elevator. I'd not describe this book the way that the jacket does, about the principal recurring characters, but rather I'd say that this book is one about connections.

Instead of quoting a bit from a couple of the stories, I'll link to a story of hers that's on the web here. The publisher doesn't have a great web site (it's mostly promises of more to come), so I'm not going to link to it. But get your hands on this book and read it; I'm glad I listened to the Globe's Jim Bartley with his review.