Sunday, November 06, 2011

From The Shelf of Books Left Unread: Loose End by Ivan E Coyote

I have a whole shelf of books that I haven't read.  Actually, my new bookshelf can only stack books two levels deep, so it's two shelves of books.  But whatever.  In any case, I have a pile and a half of books that I've accumulated over time that have been left unread.  Many of them are leftovers from back when I was doing my radio show, when publishing houses would send me piles of craptastic books for my "consideration".     These books were usually Canadian and they were usually boring as all get out.  Sure, occasionally I'd get something awesome, I never got anything awesome.  I got a few Camilla Gibb books, but unlike everyone else in Canada, I can't abide her writing.  So I'd just abandon her books in building lobbies and on subway trains, hoping that someone would think it was a find.


Loose End was one of the books I got randomly.  It's published by Arsenal Pulp, so I probably got it at a book show or something.  I'm surprised it's not signed.  I never read this book for two reasons:  it's Canadian and it's supposedly short stories.   I already can't stand short stories, but when I get a book of short stories that has a picture of the author looking all Canadian-outdoorsy on the back cover, I know I'm just not going to like the book.

But I was wrong.

I picked up Loose End off the Books Left Unread shelf because I wanted something light to read.  I figured I'd give it a shot.  Plus, upon closer inspection of the cover, I discovered that Ivan E Coyote is actually a woman and her stories are actually selections from her "Loose End" column in Xtra!West.

These were not, as I thought, stories of the rugged outdoors written by some urban outdoorsman in a folksy tone.  No no no.  These were stories of being genderqueer in Vancouver!  And they were really short!  Like a couple of pages short.  This was awesome!

The "stories" (if you can call them that) are interesting vignettes of living in a city full of different people.  They span a variety of themes, though Coyote's genderqueerness is a factor in almost all the ... I can't call these stories ... um ... essays?  The stories are witty and sometimes funny.  The writing is accessible.  Even if you aren't queer, you can appreciate the stories.

Apparently since Loose End came out, Coyote's written more books of stories and even wrote a novel.  Go figure.  I don't know if I really want to read her novel, but I do know that I'm going to add her Xtra!West "Loose End" column to my list of "Things to Read When I'm Slacking Off At Work".

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