Monday, November 28, 2011

Reader's Diary #779- Sarah Selecky: This Cake is for the Party

For the record, I'm a bigger fan of Margaret Atwood than Stephen King. Atwood crafts a sentence like nobody's business, but-- and this is odd considering his specialty is supernatural horror-- I'd give King the points for capturing domesticity.

I thought of this while reading Sarah Selecky's "This Cake Is for the Party" in November's Walrus. The 2nd sentence goes, "David is on the couch, cleaning under his fingernails with a corner of his Safeway card, and I’m in the kitchen, plucking red petals off a mini-rosebush plant, hoping they’re edible." No character in an Atwood novel would ever use a Safeway card. That's classic King.

And yet the story is far from supernatural horror-- it's about a couple going to visit friends who have recently engaged for a celebratory party. It's a subtle piece. It's a typical relationship, not perfect, and it probably won't last but this is never stated. It has the whitish smell of an orange just before it turns moldy and inedible. This is more Atwood.

King and Atwood make an interesting recipe for a story, I'd say.

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


Allison said...

Lovely story.

My favourite lines:

"You make everything so pretty, he says.

But I hear it like, You make such a big fuss about everything.

Kate said...

I wasn't a big fan of the whole collection, to the point where I can't remember this individual story very well. My biggest complaint about the book was that the voice was the same in every single story, so I wonder if the stories would be more tolerable read individually. My review of the book is here.

John Mutford said...

Allison: That is a great line, especially as, through her eyes, we assume she's right about his intended meaning.

Kate: I'd already forgotten that this story was also the name of Selecky's collection, or that the collection was shortlisted for a Giller. In any case, yes, I think as much as I enjoyed this story, the perspective could grow old-- especially if different protagonists all had the same voice. Still I enjoyed it enough that I'd consider taking her online creative writing course if I could afford it.

Perogyo said...

Thanks for introducing this. She seems to get the tone of couple-speak just right.

I read a short story called The Magic Terminus this week.

Julie @ Read Handed said...

What a great story. I really enjoyed it. It's an interesting phenomenon how couples are well aware of the warning signs and red flags in their relationships and plow forward anyway. Selecky does a great job portraying that. I read a Dickens short story today - "The Child's Story".

SuziQoregon said...

This sounds very interesting. I like both King and Atwood and a blend intrigues me.

I'm working my way through a wonderful collection of stories by Tom Franklin called Poachers.

My post today is about two of the stories in this collection.

Margot said...

For the record, I prefer Atwood over King. I like the writing of Selecky's that you quoted. I'm off to read it.

My short story post today is about an old Christmas legend about St. Francis. You can find it here: Joyfully Retired

Barbara Bruederlin said...

I admire how you channeled both King and Atwood in your intro! What an amazing combination that would be, you are completely right.

That story felt so very Vancouver to me, Kitsilano to be precise, that I was shocked at the lack of yoga mats. But I loved it.