quartet for inside voices
(winnipeg: side by side productions, 2019)
The four novellas of Quartet are joined at the heart by characters bent by constraints they dimly comprehend yet struggle to reconfigure. Iris, seemingly haunted by the sudden death of her husband, reluctantly unburies the reality of her lost lover. Frieda, tempted by the vision of the “prettier life” money can buy, finds herself imprisoned within the unrelenting sadism of the trick she turned and fleeced. A group of friends, committed to the return of their dead mentor, host his revival in what they believe is the natural consequence of their humanity. Vera, avid for rescue from the solitary world she has constructed, plots the theft of another man’s life and the disposal of his beloved. Inspired by Schnitzer’s own experience of loss, the collection gives voice to stories of longing where seeming and actual violations of norm and expectation rupture rights, rule, and ritual.
jane dying again
(winnipeg: unlimited editions, may 2016)
jane duc is a woman wanting release. her husband, clever, has a relentless illness that has worn them both out and stretched her beyond capacity. they retreat to the family cottage, and jane finds solace in the forest and river. but not enough. circumstances can’t be rectified; grief cannot be contained. her children and friends stand by in bewildered vigilance as she withdraws into a world they don’t know and can’t reach.
there is a bit of jane in all of us. when life seems to give us more than we can bear, we seek places of retreat, and disappear into them. jane finds such places and invents others we could never have imagined, and in her final act, shows us the edges of endurance.
what is often ordinary and old hat in fiction becomes fresh and enlightening in this novel: prose, drama, and poetry blend; storytelling structures break and reform; tangible and intangible worlds separate and collide as we follow jane into dying again . . . and again.
at the edge
(winnipeg: unlimited editions, 2013)
16 writers…13 chapters…one defining incident.
a benign september morning brings strangers to an edge none could anticipate. a besieged father, an agatha christie expert, an incidental thief, enduring lovers, and runaway children (among others) converge on a university quadrangle spoiled by a gaping construction hole. all are absorbed by the complexity of their individual worlds, yet each one manages to skirt the danger—except one. in a most unexpected ending, we learn how that came to be, and why.
two of canada’s award-winning novelists, gail anderson-dargatz and jack hodgins, joined with project coordinators marjorie anderson and deborah schnitzer (two contributors in the dropped threads anthologies) and 12 other writers from across canada and abroad — ingeborg boyens, arwen brenneman, ophelia celine, k.w. dyer, katherin edwards, elissa frittaion, ryder hawkins, elaine hayes, matthew hooton, blanche howard, heather jessup, sarah selecky — to create this novel of intrigue. (in an added twist, the authors’ names are not attributed to the chapters each wrote.)
an unexpected break in the weather
(winnipeg: turnstone press, 2009)
winner of the 2010 margaret laurence award for fiction, nominated as 2010 mcnally robinson book of the year.
owners of a bridal boutique on corydon, longtime lovers, mothers to a daughter who is in the process of disowning them, mildred and gertrude manage the challenges of aging bodies, critical insight, and impending retirement with creativity and passion borne of empathy and desire. in doing so they stage a wedding for their friends, a declaration of vows involving such potency, it may well transcend the mortal wounds plaguing those who cannot but attend.
(winnipeg: arbeiter ring, 2007)
gertrude unmanageable wonders about love and reproduction in a small town called promise where two seemingly distinct forms of life intersect: the born once, humans who follow the usual progression from birth to death and the borneback, old ones who grow down toward their infancy. the crossing between these two forms is made possible through gertrude unmanageable, one hundred and three years old (or thereabouts), formidable (possibly gorgeous), who comes to life inside a geriatric facility called serenity, which is housed in the born once world. gertrude’s subsequent evolution in the borneback informary secretly maintained beneath promise mystifies. accidently discovered and then observed by the born once margaret may, fiftyish and prudent, somewhat mismanaged by the fragile wisdom within her own borneback culture, alternatively thwarted and admired by k., the informary director, gertrude seemingly refuses the redemptive process so avidly pursued by ordinary myth-makers. in so doing, she torments the play time of love, dares to child/bear her own expectation, and finds poignant pleasure in the unmanageable she would not see scrammed into submission by the forces arrayed against her in either world.