Running the Whaleâ€™s Back
Admittedly, some readers might question the need for an Atlantic Canadian anthology of â€œfish stories,â€ but editors Andrew Atkinson and Mark Harris use the well-trod theme as a loose starting point to examine spirituality and faith (and doubt) in the regionâ€™s literature.
On a basic level, the book serves as a â€œwhoâ€™s whoâ€ of Atlantic short fiction, with stories by established authors such as Alistair MacLeod, Lynn Coady, Ann-Marie MacDonald and Michael Crummey. The works span a 25-year periodâ€”as far back as David Adams Richardsâ€™ masterful 1978 story, â€œWe, Who Have Never Sufferedâ€â€”which serves to highlight this perpetual return to contemporary issues of faith: whether that faith be religious, economic, sexual or familial.
That said, the collectionâ€™s gritty realism can overwhelm, with only Jessica Grantâ€™s â€œMy Husbandâ€™s Jumpâ€ offering a momentary respite. These are stories that should be contemplated slowly and treated as individual meditations.
Running the Whaleâ€™s Back:
Stories of Faith and Doubt from Atlantic Canada
edited by Andrew Atkinson and Mark Harris
$19.95, paperback, 304 pp.
Goose Lane Editions, October 2013