Monday, March 22, 2010

Reader's Diary #591- Michael Redhill: Breaking Fast

Back in Canada again, I thought I'd better feature a Canadian short story this week. And once I again I find myself at the Walrus. From their January/February issue, it's Michael Redhill's "Breaking Fast."

What impressed me most about Redhill's story is the sweeping omniscient narration. Mostly in and out of the heads of two characters, a chronically skinny mother who's taken a road trip to clear her head and a man who doesn't appear to have much in the way of significant others but who's also taken a road trip, to be where other people are. Going back and forth into these two characters' lives takes on a ping pongy quality until suddenly and briefly you find yourself inside the head of a waitress. Finally, when it changes to a first person narrative instead of a third person narrative, you question how much of the biographical stuff has been real and how much has been assumed. For s story with so little action or even dialogue, it's quite a ride. I love to people watch and I suspect Redhill must as well.

I won't, however, say it's a fun ride. As one of the meanings of the title suggests (the I'm breaking. Fast. meaning) there's a depressing air over the story. Actually, it could be argued that depression is the conflict. It's the kind of first world ennui that I find too frustrating in an entire novel (or Wes Anderson movie), but can manage in small doses like this. And, at least there's a resolution at the end. It's a vague resolution, but then again, so is the problem.

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

8 comments:

Loni said...

Breaking Fast was interesting. I agree that it was vague. At least the conclusion seemed to wrap things up.

Here's my post on Now I Lay Me by Ernest Hemingway.
http://loniseye.blogspot.com/2010/03/now-i-lay-me.html

JoAnn said...

Welcome back, John! This sounds like an interesting story. I'm reading Irish authors all month, but was disappointed this week.
http://lakesidemusing.blogspot.com/2010/03/short-story-monday-slade-by-frank-ronan.html

John Mutford said...

Loni: Now I Lay Me is an interesting title, especially when combined with the title of the collection that it's taken from (Men Without Women).

JoAnn: A couple Marches ago, I also read all Irish stories for Short Story Monday. If you're interested, you can read my reviews (and links to the stories themselves, here:
1. Sean O'Faolain- The Trout
2. Maeve Binchy- The Phone-In
3. The Model Millionaire
4. Frank O'Connor- The First Confession
5. James Joyce- Araby

JoAnn said...

Thanks, John! I'll take a look. There's still another Monday left in March.

mee said...

Another person who's doing a regular short story post! I'm doing my "feature" on Saturday. Is it okay if I visit and pop up my link on your Short Story Monday posts? :)

John Mutford said...

Mee: Of course!

Teddy Rose said...

Welcome home John! I am behind in my Google Reader but look forward to reading about your trip.

You have me intrigued with your review of Breaking Fast. I just downloaded it to read later.

I read The Pomegranate , another story you intrigued me with.

Kinna Reads said...

Interesting story. I'm also review short stories or anthologies on mondays.