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.)


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.

JoAnn said...

Welcome back, John! This sounds like an interesting story. I'm reading Irish authors all month, but was disappointed this week.

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.