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In Walking in Paradise, Newfoundland-based writer Libby Creelman's debut short story collection, the subject is the family. Her view of the institution is a dark one, but her characters are hardly villains. Like the Wizard of Oz gang, each is missing some necessary human trait--compassion, grace, kindness, understanding. As Oleen in "Boat Ride" describes her barely tolerable mother, "There is a crumbled feebleness beneath her shiny surface that softens the disheartening effect her words have on me."
The book opens with a coming-of-age story entitled "Three Weeks." Rosanna's mother dumps her at a farm with her abusive older brother, their dope-growing cousin, and his pregnant girlfriend. Also present is Louie, her cousin's mysterious partner in the pot business, whose interest in Rosanna validates her in the others' eyes. In "Gladstone 1957," Stanley has his dreams of a better life shattered by his ignorant wife and her equally exasperating mother: "He had not cried since he was five, though he had a sudden memory of how it felt to be driven to it by disappointment." The collection's best story is the exquisitely crafted "Frank and Agnes," which follows a dysfunctional family whose members freely display their shortcomings. In the course of a day, her grandchildren, daughter, son-in-law, and her husband, Frank, all humiliate Agnes. In this story, as in the rest, Creelman skilfully paints her characters into a corner, leaving them stranded and separate. --Moe Berg
`Walking in Paradise is Libby Creelman's first book. The collection's fourteen stories, each between ten and fifteen pages in length, are carefully polished and almost uniformly effective. Creelman's style is spare and direct. The sentences are short and crisp, and an emphasis is placed on clear concrete imagery. The stories often unfold through dialogue and Creelman's ear is unerring as each of the characters is granted a distinctive voice.'(David Creelman The Fiddlehead) See all Product Description