Play The Monster Blind by Lynn Coady
Vintage Canada, Toronto, 2001
From my TBR pile.
This is a collection of short stories, linked by characters, family histories and location. It is the first time I have read Lynn Coady, an author and playwright from Nova Scotia who now lives in Edmonton, Alberta.
Reading these stories felt like walking barefoot over gravel, sharp and painful, wanting to hurry and get into cool grass. Coady is an insightful writer, exploring the dynamics of family and community in a small town.
Anyone who has lived in a small town, particularly as an adolescent, knows the feeling Coady expresses in her stories. Gossip, back-biting, bullying, the need to fit in and the need to escape.
…When you think about people gossiping, you think about everyone sitting around and talking and talking until it makes everyone sick, but that’s not really how it works at all. All it takes is one sentence every couple of days, a passing remark or a joke. And then that person and all that is wrong with them is riveted inside your skull and if anyone ever says their name around you it triggers all the remarks and jokes in a flood – that’s what you think of when you think of them. That’s how it works. From The Ice-Cream Man, page 36.
And there’s that closed in feeling of not getting anywhere as an adult, of giving in, and giving up. There are also those people who escape small towns and then find themselves drawn back, for a funeral or a wedding or because life is just too difficult “out there”.
I know, this sound depressing, but Lynn Coady’s abilities bring a sharp humor to these stories and make even the most unlikable character understandable. Some of the stories focus on girls growing up and women who blame themselves for the state of their families and the state of the world. This made me angry but I found that while Coady shines a light into some dark corners, she does so with compassion.