Edited by Conan Tobias
One sure sign that summer is on the way is a new issue of Taddle Creek, Toronto's best literary magazine. Behind it's lovely cover, this issue contains four great pieces of fiction, and some other cool stuff.
Dani Couture shares an excerpt (of a novel?) called 'Salt', which has a young woman struggling to reconnect with her absent mother after her death. David Ross's story 'No Blood' is somewhat similar, in that it's about a man who is struggling to reconnect with his own past after learning that his childhood babysitter has died.
'The Canadian Grotesque' is a strange story by Michelle Winters, about a woman who is cheating on her husband with a man living (or squatting) in a house hidden in a ravine.
Andrew MacDonald's story 'Four Minutes' is probably the one that is going to stick with me the longest. The protagonist is involved in helping his developmentally delayed twin sister to have her first sexual experience with a man in similar circumstances. It's both straight-forward and kind of creepy, and MacDonald handles it all perfectly.
Among the fiction, there is also an interesting piece of reportage about the two men who now own the bulk of the film collection that the Toronto Reference Library discarded a few years back. I can completely understand the temptation to take ownership of such an eclectic and unmanageable mass of cultural heritage, and would probably feel as equally overwhelmed by the task of cataloguing and housing it all. Maybe Nicholson Baker would take it...
I rather enjoyed looking over the covers of past issues of Acta Victoriana, the literary journal published by the University of Toronto's Victoria College. The covers do a terrific job of chronicling the changes in choices of graphic design among probably pretentious students over a period of a hundred years. Cool stuff.
And then there's Dave Lapp's 'People Around Here' strip. It's always the part of the book that I most look forward to reading, but half the time that's just because I know it's going to annoy me. Once again, Lapp doesn't tell a complete story in his first page, instead giving us the beginning of a conversation wherein a guy (Lapp?) recounts being solicited by a strange woman on the street, who manages to con a cab ride home out of him. I don't need to know if the guy ended up sleeping with her, but I would have liked to have seen him get to the part in the talk where he tries to justify his actions to his friend.
Anyway, if you live in the Toronto area, go buy this magazine. It's good.