Monday, February 01, 2010

Reader's Diary #573- Monica Kidd: Still Life with Blake


I'll bore you with a bit of background before getting into my thoughts on Monica Kidd's short story "Still Life with Blake." In doing so, my post about her story will be longer than the story itself (it's flash fiction, postcard fiction in fact, meaning it's less than 500 words-- so you have no excuse not to read it.)

I stumbled upon Kidd's story looking for a Canadian lit magazine other than the Walrus (no disrespect to the Walrus), that have enough common and business sense to offer free short stories online. That search brought me to Geist, which in turn brought me to Monica Kidd's postcard story; short enough so that if I didn't like it, I wouldn't have wasted much time on it, and wouldn't bother reviewing it. But here I am, so the spoiler is out: I enjoyed it.

As I always do when I write a Short Story Monday post, I post a picture of the author. However this time I wasn't sure if that would be possible. I'd not heard of Kidd before and at the top of her story it said that "Still Life with Blake" was "an honourable mention in the 5th Annual Geist Literal Literary Postcard Story Contest" which I mistakenly took to mean that Kidd was probably an amateur and finding a photo online would not be easy. Turns out that I had heard of Kidd before. Pooker, one of my Canadian Book Challenge participants, read and reviewed a novel by Kidd (Beatrice) back in April. Which, of course, means that Kidd also isn't an amateur. She's got two novels, a non-fiction book, and a book of poetry under her belt. What's more, she's a photographer, a med-student (add her to the list of doctor writers), and filmmaker-- which takes me to the reason I'm giving you all this extra info. Originally from Alberta, Kidd now makes her home in St. John's, Newfoundland and one of her films, praxis: Twillingate, is about my hometown. I desperately want to see it but alas, couldn't find it anywhere online. However, I did track down a documentary video she directed in 2007 called Narrating Haiti. It's fascinating, especially if you want a glimpse of Haitian life before most of the world remembered the country existed.

Whew! That's quite the lead up isn't it? And to think, I wouldn't have discovered any of this had I not enjoyed her postcard story in Geist Magazine. So what's the story about? It's of a woman giving birth while the baby's father, Blake, walks in. Blake's capacity as a father remains to be seen, even if his status as a boyfriend does not. Let's just say the story is a slice of life.

It's thoroughly enjoyable, fully realized, and there's a few instances of clever wordplay going on that I'd not picked up on the first time around. Great story. And short enough to read many times over.

(Did you write a post for Short Story Monday? If so, please leave a link in the comments below.)

19 comments:

Megan said...

Hey, I know Monica. We worked together at CBC St. John's for a short time before I moved north.

Nan said...

What a perfect short story Monday post, John! I'll definitely read it. Thanks so much for all the info. I read one by Graham Greene that was tremendous:

http://lettersfromahillfarm.blogspot.com/2010/02/short-story-mondaythe-basement-room-by.html

Barbara Bruederlin said...

That was a highly satisfying story! I'm glad you found it.

John Mutford said...

Megan: You're like the Kevin Bacon of the blogging world, aren't you?

Nan: I read his short story "The Destructors" last year and absolutely LOVED it.

Barbara: Yes, you've got to love the successful stumble upon, don't you?

April said...

Thoroughly enjoyed your post and the story!

Nan said...

I just read the Kidd story and thought it would appeal esp. to the way-too-many women whose fellas cheat on them while they are pregnant. Nora Ephron's book and then movie, Heartburn deal with this too. I wasn't wild for Kidd's language but it did suit the story and the character, I thought. Very powerful. Thanks again. (and I'll look for The Destructors - missed it if you wrote about it, sorry.)

Nan said...

And me, yet again. :<) I found the link to your review, and though the story is no longer available at the site you noted, it is here:

http://www.sangam.org/articles/view/?id=183

And I've bookmarked it to read another day. I got a kick out of what you wrote about your own bad job!

Margot at Joyfully Retired said...

I'm still at the baby step phase with short stories. I don't know what I'm doing other than reading them and loving them, So now I learn there are "postcard" varieties of short stories. Who knew? Not me. There are probably classes some where just on short stories. Maybe even on line. Anyway, I posted for Short Story Monday today. You can find it at Joyfully Retired

JoAnn said...

Flash fiction and postcard fiction are new terms to me, but I sure liked the story. Slice of life, just like you said...

I read "A Doll's House" by Katharine Mansfield this week:
http://lakesidemusing.blogspot.com/2010/02/short-story-monday-dolls-house-by.html

Ali said...

Flash fiction doesn't generally appeal to me, but I don't know why. If I like poetry, why not flash fiction? It's not logical. I'll give this one a read.

In the meantime, here's my short story report: A Choice of Accommodations.

Loni said...

I just read Kidd's story and enjoyed it. I knew there was a reason I liked Geist.

My review for this week can be found here:
http://loniseye.blogspot.com/2010/02/haunted-house.html

carolsnotebook said...

I don't think I've ever read any flash fiction. I did read a short story this week though, my first in a while.

http://carolsnotebook.wordpress.com/2010/02/01/a-scandal-in-bohemia-by-sir-arthur-conan-doyle/

John Mutford said...

April: Thanks!

Nan: Pretty low thing to do. As bad as cheating on someone on their wedding day. Sad that such things are common enough to warrant more than a few stories. Thanks for the new link, by the way.

Joyfully Retired: And if you're really into concise, there's an entire website for stories told in just six sentences.

JoAnn: My only experience with Mansfield was "The Fly" and to my surprise it wasn't the basis behind the Jeff Goldblum movie.

Ali: Well, I guess they're not for everyone. But I'm sure there must be one out there that you'd enjoy-- hopefully this'll be it.

Loni: I'd heard of Geist before, but haven't really paid it attention until now.

Carol: Like Greene and Mansfield above, I've also only read one Doyle story. I thought it was going to be a Holmes story, but it turned out not to be the case.

Teddy Rose said...

I will have to go over and read it. Thanks for all the info on Kidd.

I know you already say it, but here's mine: http://teddyrose.blogspot.com/2010/02/she-wasnt-soft-by-tcboyle.html

JoAnn said...

Thanks for the link to "The Fly". Enjoyed your review and will read the story later.

mynovelreviews said...

I really enjoyed "Still Life with Blake" as well! I'm glad I discovered your blog - I was browsing throught the National Post's Canada Also Reads (looking for the shorlist) and found you in the comments section.

Sandra said...

Very interesting information about your finding the writer and all about her. I like good short stories but not sure how to review them. I'll check out this one though.

Sandra said...

Just read the story. My first flash fiction experience. I enjoyed that story very much.

John Mutford said...

Teddy: Glad to see another Boyle story reviewed.

JoAnn: I'd love to hear your thoughts.

MyNovelReviews: Was it Michael Buble that said "I don't care you how you get here, just get here"? Probably not, the sentiment holds true.

Sandra: Maybe you'd be interested in John Gould's Kilter: 55 Fictions. It was my first exposure to flash fiction and as you can tell, turned me into a fan.