Ms. Baker's stories are ribbed with gritty authenticity: The temporary job, the broken relationship, the plans gone wrong. Her narrative runs the emotional gamut of ephemeral joy, crushing disappointment and stoic ennui. Highly recommended.
I loved these stories, written with such realism that I felt as though I were being offered a glimpse into the author’s secret lives. There is so little in fiction that’s this raw and honest, so few stories where characters are laid bare at their lowest points and, as in life, enjoy no pat, happy endings.
I often found myself identifying a little too closely with the mistakes Carleigh’s female characters make in regard to men. The dialogue is so masterfully done, providing insight into human weaknesses. Or when she reveals your own oddities through her characters, and you realize you aren’t the only one who suffers with guilt over taking a bath.
“I sat in the water until it was nearly cold, to make sure I got the most use of it.”
My favourite story was “Grey Water.” So many very cool perceptions, but the author never allows sentimentality to invade her stories. One of the characters’ realizations: “Maybe something both other-worldly and organic was reaching out to me, trying to give me a message, and I was slapping its hands away like an idiot. Something magic.”
I think the author is at her best when writing about our relationship to nature. It’s like opening a gift to come across profound introspections: One character muses about her “. . . powerful and lifelong misconception that I am not a part of nature.” To my mind, this sentence is the uniting theme of these stories.
Carleigh Baker should be very proud of this collection, that it articulates what so many of us feel—the disconnection from our wild selves. I expect that Bad Endings will be on the award lists this coming fall.
"The floor was so highly polished I could see up my own skirt." from p46 "Shoe Shopping with the Cash Poor"
This is how I felt while reading Baker's smoothly written collection of short stories--simultaneously exposed (relatable reminders of my own bad endings) and voyeuristically driven to carry on reading impeccable prose about (Yeah!) imperfect people. These stories are splendidly uncheerful--my cuppa tea! It's not that they're hopeless. It's more that (like in real life) every serious decision has as many follow-up question marks as whatever led to that decision. The characters are relatable working class folks (BC local, often urban) with unusual jobs, obsessions, relatives and dissatisfactions. The bee facts are a bonus! Read Bad Endings!
Dear Carleigh, please please please write a follow-up story for the river-paddling couple in Moosehide!
This is a hilarious, poignant highly original collection of short stories. In these stories: a young woman is distracted from her beekeeping job by the arrival of a hunky distraction, a couple goes on a trip of a lifetime only to grow bored with the Northern Lights and an addict bonds with a prisoner while bludgeoning salmon. These stories are unlike anything I've read and stuck with me for ages after I finished the collection. LOVE THIS BOOK!
I loved this book so much I finished it in one night! These stories are full of compassion, insight and beautiful imagery. Even though some of the subject matter is a bit dark, the book is filled with humour and a sense of hope. Can’t wait to read more from this author. Highly recommended!
An interesting book full of short stories about endings and beginnings. Each a slice of life wholly relatable and often uncomfortable. I really liked it and I will definitely keep it in mind during gift giving season.