Short Story “Wrong Side of Heaven” from Things Don’t Break


If you revisit the scenes of your happiness, your heart must burst of its agony.—Dorothy Parker

Dear Earth,

You’re 384, 403 kilometres away, but it still seems like I could reach out and grab you. Since I’m in rotation around you, you’re always visible up there in the sky. You wobble a little but never actually set, so I can look up and see you whenever I want.

How are you feeling? You’re looking good. You’re looking pretty.

Shine a light out your window at night, and it takes about a second and a half to reach me here. Our exploration vehicle took four days. It will take that same 1.5-ish seconds for this message to reach you when I press send. I don’t know exactly when I’m coming back. I’m not totally sure that I am coming back.

Because our station is atop the rim of this crater at the north pole—since that’s where the water is—it’s permanent daytime here. The sky’s always black because there’s no atmosphere, but the station lives in a peak of eternal light. We have to sleep in rooms without windows. Or at least I do.

Where I’m sitting writing this, I like to call it the garden. That drives the actual astronauts crazy because it’s more like a farm or a greenhouse, and a couple of them just call it by its module number (one zero zero one). But they’re engineers and scientists. Technical types. Even the people who work here in the garden are botanists and entomologists. I’m the only liberal arts grad in the whole place. How about that: December Tenth, MFA—first civilian woman on the moon. Anyway, it reminds me of the garden behind Jamie Oakener’s mum’s house, with the kale and the tomatoes and the turnips and everything . . . and the bees, always with the bees. So I call it the garden, even though really it isn’t.

What Jamie’s mum’s garden didn’t have that this one does is the continual vacuum cleaner sound of the atmosphere generators and the endless grey expanse of completely desolate wasteland just on the other side of the fence.

Just like at Jamie’s mum’s, I like to sit here and drink coffee and write. Not the good coffee that Jamie would make us in the morning. Terrible coffee, thin, instant coffee, but coffee. Here I am, sitting, drinking coffee on the moon. That still gets me. I miss orange juice—the powdered crap that passes for orange juice around here tastes more like coffee than the coffee does—but the orange grove won’t be harvestable for years yet.

An acute, whispery voice comes from behind me saying, “Don’t move. Don’t freak out, but there’s a bee on you.”

Always with the bees.

With a complaisant wave, Dr. Keats shoos away the bee from my shoulder. It alights and lands again on a nearby cucumber vine. Smiling, I turn to Dr. Keats as he stands beside me at the edge of the garden, the transparent barrier that encloses the station just inches in front of us.

I say, “Thanks, Jon.”

The “there’s a bee on you” thing is somewhere between an inside joke and a religious ritual at this point. Since I spend so much time in the garden, and since Dr. Keats is the head apiologist on the station, we see each other fairly often, and there is usually a bee on at least one of us. The fat, fuzzy bumblebees used here for pollination in the garden are really chill and non-aggressive, but you still need to take an allergy test before leaving Earth to make sure you won’t die of anaphylactic shock, just in case you do something stupid and get yourself stung.

“Good morning, December,” Dr. Keats says. “How are you doing?”

“Pretty good,” I say. “Working on my post to send back to Earth.” I gesture toward the blue globe in the black sky, as if I’m concerned he won’t know what planet I mean.

“Cool,” Dr. Keats says.

He’s a small, grey, friendly man from California. Most of the station’s occupants are American. Some are Canadian, like me, and there’s also a handful of Russians. Some people from India, some from England. Ireland, Israel. Everyone gets along except during the World Cup.

He says, “Well, don’t let me disturb you.”

“Please,” I say, grabbing the cuff of his white button-down—some people here wear their filmy aluminum-cotton space suits at practically all times, but Dr. Keats, like me, prefers casual dress even when he’s on duty. I say, “Disturb me.” I pull him down, and he sits beside me on the bench that’s like a metal grate bent into a pair of right angles. Does that image even make sense?

“Having trouble writing?” Dr. Keats asks me.

I nod. “I don’t think it’s going to turn out very well. What am I doing here, Jon? I’m just some girl with a creative writing degree and one shitty novel. What was I thinking?”

Dr. Keats hasn’t shaved for a few days; white coruscations of hair sit in the pores of his cheeks. “You’re thirty years old,” he says, smiling. “You’re hardly a girl. And I’m certain that you wouldn’t have been selected if you weren’t up to the task.”

He’s too kind to me.

“What was I thinking?” I say again.

“I don’t know,” says Dr. Keats. “What were you thinking?”


Dear Earth,

What I was thinking was this: I was about to finish school with the most nugatory degree I could conceive of. I had a not-as-good-as-I’d-hoped short novel coming out with an indie press that was one step up from the Xerox machine at the 7-11 down the street. I was unemployed and probably unemployable. I was single and probably un-de-singleable, and going to the moon was the one thing I’d wanted most since looking up at the sky at night as a child and seeing it there, resting matte gold on the horizon or suspended burnished silver at its zenith

So what do you do when the big news is that they’re looking for professional writers to live on the new lunar station and file regular reports, to chronicle the majestic adventure of humanity’s first permanent space colony, to write a record to live for the ages? You polish your CV, one-inch your margins, and you apply for that motherfucker.

You don’t actually expect to be chosen. You don’t expect to . . . to have to leave everything behind.

Jamie Oakener was the only person to show up at my first reading, and even that was just a coincidence.

The two-by-five foot foamcore reproduction of my book’s cover—its title, The Thermodynamics of Love (holy Lord, what was I thinking?), in round, red sans serifs over a picture of some girl much prettier than me looking all heartbroken—is 100 percent of the publisher’s marketing budget for the season, and it leans against the front of the little table where I sit, hiding my Levi’s legs and the fifty copies of my book that I brought with me from home, and it’s the first time in my life that I feel like I might have been too optimistic.

Around two dozen chairs stare me down in the bookstore with a collective ass population of precisely zero. It’s twenty minutes past when I’m supposed to start reading, but I’ll be damned if I read to no one. Instead I brandish my best passive-aggressive smile at the customers who walk past while avoiding my eyes, a better advertisement for my dentist than for my publisher or myself probably.

this girl—all skinny arms and legs, hair a cascade of dark coffee curls, in a blue dress with white polka dots, a string of imitation pearls around her neck—appears, comes straight toward me, and sits down in the front row. Looking just like she walked out of a speakeasy circa 1922. Looking just like she’s there on purpose.

And Dear Earth, is she ever pretty.

And I say hi and she says hi. And I say, “Do you want to get a cup of coffee?” And she says, “Aren’t you going to read?” And I give the empty-but-for-her chairs a declarative look and I say, “It doesn’t seem like it.”

“Did you actually come here to hear me read?”

And she says, all bashful, “No. You just looked so sad and cute.”

So my sad, cute heart does a flip in her direction, and I say again, “Let’s get some coffee.”

We have the first conversation I have with everybody, which is about my name: how my parents’ surname was Tenth, so when I was born on the tenth of December, they thought they’d be all clever and call me December Tenth. I tell this story a lot.

But she does something unexpected. She says, “I have a weird name too!”

“Jamie Oakener?” She’s already told me. “What’s so weird about that?”

She smiles like a conspiracy.

“Jamie comes from Jameson’s, which is what my parents were drinking when I was conceived.”

I laugh. “Gross!”

“It gets better. I have middle names. My mum’s maiden name was Parker, right, and my dad’s grandmother’s name was Dorothy. Making me—”

“Jamie Dorothy Parker Oakener!” I shout, delighted, informing the whole café, but I don’t even care.

“December Tenth,” she giggles. “Use your indoor voice!”

            The first time I come over it’s raining, and in the morning we sit in the garden drinking coffee and reading the brand new IKEA catalogue to each other and gently waving away the bees that try to land on us because we’re so bright and sweet together they mistake us for flowers.


Dear Earth,

            The station’s electricity is generated in two ways. The first is solar. Because there’s no atmosphere beyond our metal-and-plexiglass enclosure, there’s nothing to dilute the sun’s energy as it reaches the craggy grey surface, so the solar collectors work at almost 100 percent efficiency.

The other way is hydrogen fuel, which we get from mining the ice. Every day a dozen robots roll down into the polar crater below us and come back a few hours later hauling big pyramids of dirty ice. From the area above the vehicle storage unit—the garage, where I am now—you can see them. Robots like a baby elephant crawled inside R2-D2 and had a baby with a Zamboni. Robots crawling up the side of the crater like Sisyphus.

This is how we get our oxygen, too. By a process of electrolysis, the water-ice is split into hydrogen and oxygen: the hydrogen goes into the fuel cells, and the oxygen goes to the generators to produce breathable air. The sighs of the station’s 108 personnel make their way to the garden for the plants. The rest of the water is treated and mineralized and fluorinated and made potable for us and for the plants, and our waste water is recycled.

The gravity . . . I haven’t got even the fuzziest idea about how the gravity works.

In the station, Captain Wallace is in charge. Captain Wallace looks just like an astronaut from a 1950s science-fiction movie: a crew-cut black like oil, eyes blue as Earth and always looking into the distance at something you can’t see, like cats do. He’s thirty centimetres bigger than me in every direction, and he wears his US Air Force uniform every day, with the silver double-bars of his rank pinned to his lapel. Anytime he’s not talking to you, he absently worries the wide gold band around the hairy knuckle of his left ring finger. I’m pretty sure he doesn’t realize that he does this. But it makes him seem human to the rest of the crew, rather than like the intimidating, unrelatable archetype he’d otherwise be.

Okay, he is still kind of intimidating.

I say, “Good afternoon, Captain.” You have to call him Captain. You do not call him Dave. You especially don’t do your best HAL 9000 impression when he’s around.

“Good afternoon, Ms. Tenth,” he says, and even though I’ve just walked up out of nowhere, he does not startle, and he doesn’t turn to look at me, just continues watching, through the window of the garage, the barren crater as the robots return with our water and power and air for the next week. He says, “I read your last transmission to Earth.”

Of course he did. Part of his job is reading everything I write and approving or rejecting each post before dispatching it. This is still a military mission, technically, and we can’t have me giving away any secrets. Captain Wallace knows all about embedded journalists and their loose lips; he was in the war.

“Did you like it?” I ask.

“It was very . . . ” His Bruce Campbell chin rises up almost imperceptibly. “Personal.”

“Is that bad?”

“No,” he says. “No.” Out there, the little robots drag their frozen cargo back home, dutiful as ants. Out there, the robots don’t remember. Out there, the robots don’t dream.

For most of my life on Earth, I felt safe. Safe like a prison is safe. Earth has everything you need to be alive: air, water, food. It’s all just there. But the same gravity that keeps the atmosphere from floating away also keeps you rooted to the spot. You look up at the sky at night and what you see is possibility. What you see is freedom. What you see is everything else. I always thought that if I went to the moon, I would feel what I never felt down on the planet where I was born. And wouldn’t you know it, Earth—I was right.

Here I do feel free. Free, and constantly afraid. This place is hostile. If you want to eat, if you want to breathe, you have to come prepared with the products of thousands of years of human civilization strapped to your back. The moon is a blank white page on which we’re still scrawling the very first sentences, and we can write anything we can imagine On Earth you could always get hit by a bus or eaten by a crocodile—there’s never any guarantees, but on the moon you might wake up with a chest full of emptiness and die of suffocation one morning because some asteroid looked at your bedroom the wrong way.

Point being, you think you have to choose. You think it’s either safety and confinement, or freedom and fear. You think it can only ever be one way or the other.

Dear Earth, let me count the ways.

The way we have the same arms. The way her socks never match. The way she calls people by their full name. The way the sound of hers, her name, liquefies my heart still. The way she shakes her hair. The way she draws dinosaurs. The way her red nail polish is always perfectly chipped. The way that she’s better than me at everything, and the way that makes me feel not envious but proud. The way she’ll smile kindly and call you a doofus only when she’s really, really mad at you.

Captain Wallace’s arms fall back down to his sides, then his hands join behind his back. He looks like he’s seen things you people wouldn’t believe, like he’s thinking deep thoughts, like he’s about to say something profound. He kind of always looks like that.

What he says is “Ms. Tenth.” What he says is “Being apart from someone, even being half a million miles away, shouldn’t make you feel so all alone. It should make you feel blessed to live in a universe so kind that it contains a person so special, a person worth missing like that.”

Out there, the north stretches across empty space. Out there, the Earth hangs suspended on nothing. Out there in the sky, looking so small and so close that I could reach out and grab it, is everywhere I have ever been.

Standing just behind him, I look at Captain Wallace’s hands, holding each other behind his back. He never looks at me, but he unclasps his hands, takes the gold ring on his left hand between two fingers on his right, and turns it round and round like the orbit of the moon.


Dear Earth,

Jamie Oakener came with me to Florida, where the space ships depart, to see me off. It was hot in Orlando. Or it might have been the coldest day in a century, I don’t really remember. I think it was raining, though, or snowing maybe, because I do recall that our faces were wet.

We stood close, and she said, “Don’t go.”

And I said, “Come with me.”

Don’t go.

Come with me.”

I looked into her eyes, but I couldn’t see a fucking thing.

And she looked into my eyes, and she smiled so kindly, and she said, “You doofus.”

Posted in Excerpts | Tagged , , , |

Things Don’t Break—Richard Rosenbaum

ISBN: 9781988040196

PRICE: $21.95

Acclaimed writer Richard Rosenbaum’s short stories range in genre from realism to speculative, and stylistically from literary to experimental. In his stunning first collection of short fiction, Things Don’t Break, readers will discover stories about relationships, robots, videogames, the moon, giant evil chickens, and more.

“Things Don’t Break is an amazing piñata of a book. Crack it open and out will fly all kinds of strange and wondrous things (including a robot or two). A truly smashing collection of stories.”—Neil Smith, author of Boo

“Richard Rosenbaum knows the way people work—the way they love, the way they hurt, the way they break. These are stories that fire on all the emotional cylinders. A Pandora’s box of the strange and beautiful things that live inside us all.”—Ian Rogers, author of Every House Is Haunted

Click here to read “Wrong Side of Heaven” from Things Don’t Break.

Richard Rosenbaum is the author of the novel Pretend to Feel (Now Or Never Publishing 2017), the novella Revenge of the Grand Narrative (Quattro Books 2014), and of Raise Some Shell (ECW Press 2014), a cultural history of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. He is also a regular contributor to the popular culture analysis website Overthinking It. He lives in Toronto.

Posted in 2017, Short Fiction, Summer 2017, T, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , |

A Moose in the Dark—H.W. Browne

ISBN: 9781988040233

PRICE: $21.95

H.W. Browne’s debut short fiction collection, A Moose in the Dark, questions our ways of knowing. In a world where cathedrals, churches, and temples no longer bind communities, hers is a search for connectivity. Whether a moose prepares the way for old friends desperate to communicate, or a skull saves a child from drowning, Browne’s stories risk the intervention of the uncanny, and immersion in the elements.

“Heather Browne had been known to me as an award-winning poet, and more recently a much anthologized short fiction writer. She has a unique style, meticulously rendering each word for the strongest narrative while maintaining a parallel under voice. Her imagery is priceless. A Moose in the Dark is tight, deep, yet sexy; a pleasure to read, savour, and reread.”—Wayne Curtis, author of In the Country

“Aflame with characters in pursuit of connection and salvation, this fine debut collection is saturated with language that is, like all the best truth-telling, both a conflagration and an inundation: seductive, slippery, and sometimes a little shifty-eyed.”—Diane Schoemperlen, author of This Is Not My Life

“A Moose in the Dark explores the complex loyalties of husbands and wives, lovers, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters. Browne offers a glimpse of the lives of ordinary people—a trucker, a shoe saleswoman, a school bus driver – illuminated briefly in the headlights, moments of disappointment, reconciliation and resignation. She writes those moments as they deserve to be written, in language rich with poetry and lightened by wit.” Kelly Cooper, author of Eyehill

“If you have a house, then there is always something to do—especially when the hours are stretching out in front of you like a long centre line on a dark night on a lonesome highway. In that time, civil dusk, that time just before it all goes black as pitch, you can make a homemade moose call and see what comes. Just as those were Heather Browne’s words, that moose call is exactly what she’s made, and so who comes to it? All those peculiar half-forgotten relatives who are just as human as we are—the quick and the dead, the old folks and the children, the long gone and now. Can Heather’s house stand up to all these visitors? If you run your hands over the wood, you will feel how well constructed it is, how she’s built it solid and sanded every beam. We don’t know if a moose will come or not, but we will. We can all live in Heather Browne’s house because that’s where we are already.”—Keith Maillard, author of Difficulty at the Beginning

“Communication, or the lack of it, is the theme of A Moose in the Dark, Heather Browne’s
debut collection of short stories, in which her characters strive to connect with one another and with the larger world, but for one reason or another do not… glimpses into the tragedies that lurk behind.”—Wayne Grady, Kingston Whig-Standard

“Contains stories that will—more frequently than not—leave you asking questions… which is a good indicator of the author’s short story writing skills. If you like the literary short story genre, then you will enjoy A Moose in the Dark.—Mirimachi Reader

H.W. Browne writes poetry and short fiction and received her Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of British Columbia. She has published several books of poetry, and her story, “Beach Glass,” was recognized as a notable short story by the judges for the 2014 Peter Hinchcliffe Fiction Award. A native New Brunswicker, she now lives in Ontario and continues mentoring creative writers, and of course, learning from the water.

Posted in 2017, M, Short Fiction, Summer 2017, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , |

For All the Men (and Some of the Women) I’ve Known—Danila Botha

For All the Men cover

Cover photo by Jowita Bydlowska

ISBN: 9781988040080
Price: $21.95

Finalist for the 2017 Trillium Book Award!
Shortlisted for The 2017 Vine Award Award for Canadian Jewish Literature in the Fiction category!
Shortlisted for the 2017 ReLit Award!

In For All the Men (and Some of the Women) I’ve Known, Danila Botha explores the nuances and complexity of relationships, from love to betrayal. In these eighteen unforgettable stories, Botha creates characters so authentic, readers are convinced that they know them personally. As in her debut collection, Got No Secrets, Botha excels at blending literary techniques with popular zeitgeist. With her trademark honest and singular voice, Botha exposes the desire for human connection above all things. The collection is hopeful, fearless, and utterly relatable.

“Everyone in this book is alive. Painfully, nervously, ardently. This collection, (like Chekhov by way of Kathy Acker but utterly original), is truthful and dreamy, tough and tremulous; sad and aching, seductively, with hope.—Lynn Crosbie, author of Where Did You Sleep Last Night

“With an ear for poetry and a knack for tragedy, Danila Botha is an expert on yearning. These stories are for anyone who has ever loved and lost, but not let go.”—Shaughnessy Bishop-Stall, author of Ghosted

For All the Men (and Some of the Women) I’ve Known is unlike anything I have ever read before. Unflinchingly honest in its examination of love in all its joyful, messy, agonizing, spectacularly beautiful glory, these stories seem to vibrate on their own emotional frequency. Danila Botha writes with a heartbreaking rawness and intensity that will continue to haunt you long after you’ve turned the final page.”—Amy Jones, author of We’re All In This Together

“I discovered [author Danila Botha] while I was reading books for the Danuta Gleed Literary Award specifically her delightful first story collection, Got No Secrets. These two stories are brand new, stories written in a gutsy, head-on, colloquial style about love, sex and mis-connection among the urban 20-somethings she knows so well. Her characters are all compulsively themselves, driven, probably always, to make a mess of things, but vulnerable, full of desire, and often touchingly witty.”—Douglas Glover, author of Elle

“A searing and beautifully forthright collection about the angst, chaos, tragedy and hope in the quest for love. A series of unique, riveting and perfect portrayals that pulls no punches. Reading these stories made me smile and made me want to smash things.”—Lisa de Nikolits, author of Between the Cracks She Fell

“For All the Men has Botha delivering smart prose that seamlessly balances humour, disappointment, and dysfunction… Botha is an incredibly fresh voice in Canadian literature, and this remarkably visceral and unforgettable collection feels like it’s only setting the stage for much more to come.”—Liz Worth, Quill & Quire

“I devoured this collection, and I hope Ms. Botha continues to hone her craft producing more stories with that healthy touch of realism that she has come to be recognised for.” —Miramichi Reader

“Each of these stories are real and honest, open and gut-wrenching, and Botha makes them jump out from the page into your mind. The characters are unforgettable. This book will stay with you for a long time, as you ponder your own understanding of love long after you have shut the last page.”—Laurie Burns, Atlantic Books Today

“Botha’s characters freely indulge in sex and drugs and copious amounts of alcohol in their quest to find succour or peace, though it becomes readily apparent that what they are most intent on discovering… is some sort of authentic connection with another human being… The author is undeniably familiar with modern urban ennui, and the stories in her collection have an admirable directness and grit.”— Steven W. Beattie, Globe and Mail

“A series of orchestral variations whose loops and iterations are made vital by the steady introduction of new elements… stories full of people who disappoint, or are disappointed, yet they rarely end on a note of despair, which in today’s Tinder-enabled relationship landscape seems almost like an act of subversion… She [Botha] has a fine talent…”—Emily Donaldson, Toronto Star

“Botha’s collection thoughtfully, tragically, and insightfully captures the peculiarities of modern relationships in the time of texting, online dating, and an unnerving urban detachment we’ve come to recognize as a normal thing.”—The Literary Lollipop

Photo: Ayelet Tsabari

Photo: Ayelet Tsabari

Danila Botha is a fiction writer based in Toronto. Born in Johannesburg, South Africa, she has lived in Israel, and in Nova Scotia. Her first collection of short stories, Got No Secrets, was praised by the Globe and Mail, the Chronicle Herald and the Cape Town Times. It was also named one of Britannica’s Books of the Year (Canadian short stories), and was published in South Africa in 2011. Her first novel, Too Much on the Inside, was shortlisted for the 2016 Relit Award and won a Book Excellence Award for Contemporary Novel. Her sophomore collection of short stories, For All the Men (and Some of the Women) I’ve Known, was published in 2016 to rave reviews. It was also recently named a finalist for the 2017 Trillium Book Awards. She is currently working on her second novel and on a new collection of short stories. Read more on her website:


Posted in Award Nominees & Winners, F, Fall 2016, Short Fiction, Trillium, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Canadian Shield—Kelley Aitken

9781988040097ISBN: 9781988040097
PRICE: $21.95

Winner of a 2017 Ippy Awards Regional Bronze Medal for Fiction!
Shortlisted for the 2017 ReLit Award!

Kelley Aitken’s compelling short fiction collection is united by a sense of place, the Canadian Shield. Her nine short stories traverse an area between land and water; near and far, between the uncontrollable and the veneer of civility. They reflect, Janus-headed, on Nature and human nature. Canadian Shield addresses that anxious paradox between our yearning for the wild and our need for security—a profound dilemma of our time.

“Loss and longing, love, betrayal, and hard-won heart, the souls in these stories are mirrored in the Canadian wild. This is travel over tough terrain—river, rock, and the inner landscapes of people who search—these stories will stay with you for a long time.”—Kim Echlin, author of Under the Visible Life and The Disappeared

“Aitken writes dense, layered stories that play with temporality and use the natural world as a mirror for the psyches of her characters… Aitken’s stories are dark, but tremendously insightful and empathetic. This is a smart, haunting collection.”—Alexander De Pompa, Broken Pencil

“Aitken’s exquisite prose takes us on a profound journey from camp to bush to canoe in a deeply moving reflection on our relationships with ourselves and our surroundings.”—Goodreads

Photo by Zenia Buzanko

Kelley Aitken is a writer, artist, and teacher. Her book Love in a Warm Climate (The Porcupine’s Quill, 1998) was nominated for the Commonwealth Prize, Best First Book. Kelley has lived in the Philippines, Ecuador, and various parts of Canada. Born in British Columbia, Kelley makes her home in Toronto where she teaches drawing at the Art Gallery of Ontario.

Posted in Award Nominees & Winners, C, Catalogue, Short Fiction, Summer 2016 | Tagged , , , , , , , |

The Animal Game—Kirsteen MacLeod

the animal game cover
ISBN: 9781988040073
Price: $21.95

In The Animal Game’s nine short stories, Kirsteen MacLeod takes us on a zigzag global journey in search of meaning. Haunting and frequently hilarious, this is a wayward meditation on travel and home, reality and illusion, and seeking one’s place in the world. Written with compassion and insight, the collection’s intersecting stories explore inner landscapes and countries of the heart – Brazil, Toronto, Bahamas, IndiaReaders are transported and return transformed, joining the book’s characters as they walk, and often stumble, down the uncertain path we all travel to find our true, essential selves.

“Kirsteen MacLeod’s stories about belonging and the search for a spiritual home are poignant reminders of what it is to be human. Beautifully written. The Animal Game is a fantastic debut.”—Helen Humphreys, author of The Evening Chorus

Kirsteen MacLeod’s linked stories are compelling geographies of the spirit, both global and interior, drawing us ever closer to the transformative power that breathes beneath the surface of all things, especially ourselves. The Animal Game is a captivating debut.—Diane Schoemperlen, author of Our Lady of the Lost and Found and This Is Not My Life

“MacLeod’s writing is vivid and deft. Darkly humorous and then suddenly touching—characters caught out in a slant of glancing sunlight.”—Tim Wynne-Jones, author of The Emperor of Any Place

“MacLeod has a gift for writing realistic depictions of mental and emotional states… The Animal Game is a fine debut with clear, vivid writing and intensely realized characters.”—Alexander De Pompa, Broken Pencil

“Engaging debut collection… MacLeod, a Kingston writer, writes with insight and affection for her characters.”—Sarah Murdoch, Toronto Star

“Enlightening and beautifully written”—

Kirsteen MacLeod photo

Photo by Marco Reiter

Kirsteen MacLeod is a writer and yoga teacher who lives in Kingston, Ontario. The Animal Game is her debut collection of short fiction. Kirsteen was born in Glasgow, Scotland, lived in Toronto and Brazil, and has worked as a magazine writer, communicator, and editor for 30 years.


Posted in A, Short Fiction, Summer 2016, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , |

A Chronicle of Magpies Launch

A Chronicle of Magpies WEBJoin Tightrope Books and City Park Library for the launch of Bruce Meyer’s short fiction collection, A Chronicle of Magpies. Readings by the author and guests Jeffrey Round & Charlene Challenger. Evening includes special celebrations for the City Park Library’s 1-year anniversary.

Wednesday, July 15, doors open 6:30. Bruce reads at 7:15pm.
City Park Library, PMG Hall (between 31 & 51 Alexander St, Toronto).

Posted in News, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , |

A Chronicle of Magpies—Bruce Meyer

A Chronicle of Magpies WEBISBN: 9781926639741
PRICE: $12.95—special sale price!

This short fiction collection examines the serendipity and spontaneity of history through stories about love, family, and art. Bruce Meyer offers a view that is both personal and panoramic in these heartfelt and surprising stories. The book features the post–WWI novella “A Chronicle of Magpies,” which tells the story of one family’s struggle to build their own paradise, a home and lakeside resort, in the gothic Canadian wilderness. The engrossing novella is the centerpiece to a rich collection of shorter narratives, which are told with the same keen eye and subtle lyricism.

“History and families, along with the events that inform both, lie at the heart of Bruce Meyer’s accomplished collection, A Chronicle of Magpies. These are stories that reach into the past to inform the present, and along the way help us do the same.”—Andrew Pyper, author of The Demonologist

“A haunting portrayal of Canadian families throughout time”—

“Meyer captures perfectly what it meant to be a Canadian at war and at home”—

Bruce Meyer is the award-winning author of forty-five books of poetry, short fiction, non-fiction, and literary journalism. His most recent books include the forthcoming Arrow of Time (2015), The Obsession Book of Timbuktu (2014), Testing the Elements (2014), and The Seasons (2014), which won an IPPY Medal and was short-listed for the Indie-bruce meyer b wFab Award. With Barry Callaghan he published the groundbreaking anthology, We Wasn’t Pals: Canadian Poetry and Prose of the First World War (with an afterword by Margaret Atwood). His spoken word work includes the CBC’s bestselling CD series, The Great Books and Great Poetry. His non-fiction volume The Golden Thread: A Reader’s Journey Through the Great Books was a national bestseller in 2000. He was the inaugural Poet Laureate of the City of Barrie and is professor of Creative Writing and Communications at Georgian College and Visiting Professor of Literature at the University of Toronto’s Victoria College. He lives in Barrie, Ontario.


Posted in C, Catalogue, Fall 2015, Holiday Fiction Sale, Short Fiction, short fiction sale, Valentine Sale | Tagged , , , , , , |

A Token of my Affliction Launch

Join Tightrope Books for the launch of A Token of My Affliction, the first fiction collection by This Magazine’s 2009 Great Canadian Literary Hunt winner, Janette Platana. Hosted by Heather J Wood with readings by the author plus guest authors Roxanna Bennett & Danila Botha. Door prizes, books for sale and more!

Date: January 20, 2015

Time: 7:00pm

Location: Handlebar, 159 Augusta, Toronto.

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A Token of My Affliction-Janette Platana

ISBN: 9781926639758
Price: $21.95
Pub date: 2015

Finalist for the 2016 English Language Trillium Book Award! Longlisted for The Frank O’Connor International Short Story Prize!

Janette Platana’s cheerfully disturbing, gleefully outraged, and chillingly beautiful stories break open the lives of apparently ordinary people who struggle and sometimes succeed in living without compromise, refusing to sacrifice the world they sense to the world they see, and where things can be true without ever being real. The range of this accomplished and poetic voice may cause vertigo, owing, as it does, as much to the Clash to Stephen King, to Caitlin Moran as to Flannery O’Connor, and something to David Sedaris. A Token of My Affliction will make you laugh while breaking your heart wide open.

“Wild, witty and thought-provoking…”—Michelle Berry, author of Interference

Janette Platana’s writing is brave and vivid and full of tender sacrilege.”—David Bergen, author of The Time in Between

“Platana questions where choices originate from and what factors make us choose certain paths and not others.”—Derek Newman-Stille, Speculating Canada

“So funny. So perfect; so true. I really haven’t got one negative thing to say about this book. You should read it. Janette Platana is one of our best.” —Richard Rosenbaum, Broken Pencil

“This is an impressive collection of short stories.”—

“This collection is as brilliant as it is terrifying… For Janette Platana, to have an affliction is to be a person… I highly recommend this book.”—Evelyn Deshane, The Rusty Toque

“I’ve never read anything quite as raw as Janette Platana’s first collection of short stories, A Token of My Affliction…  if this is only Janette Platana’s debut collection, then we’ve all got a whole slew of incredible stories coming our way.—Galaxy Quill

“A magnifying glass that you hold up to an assortment of lives that look a lot like your own, and through that magnifying glass you see all the fascinating and horrible microscopic entities crawling over the surface and within the minuscule cracks of those lives.”—Andrew Forbes, 49th Shelf


Janette Platana’s poetry and fiction have appeared in literary magazines across Canada, in the U.S., and in Turkey. Originally from Saskatchewan, and with a background in indie bands and improv comedy, she now lives and writes in Peterborough, Ontario. Her short story, “Dear Dave Bidini,” won This Magazine‘s 2009 Great Canadian Literary Hunt.  A Token of My Affliction is Janette’s debut collection of short fiction.

Posted in Award Nominees & Winners, Short Fiction, T, Trillium, Winter 2015 | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Launch of Royston Tester’s You Turn Your Back

Join Tightrope Books for the Toronto launch of Royston Tester’s third collection of short stories, You Turn Your Back. The evening features readings by Royston Tester and special guest Jeffrey Round, plus door prizes and books for sale!

Thursday, November 27, 6pm, The Central, 603 Markham St, Toronto.


Posted in News, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , |