Thursday, February 10, 2011
The Sweater Curse: A Modern Edda
Leanne Dyck has crafted a tale as exotic and existential as Danish author Isak Dinesen's. Her novella begins in a Ship-of-Fools fashion, with a bitter voice in some mysterious waiting room beyond the grave. The speaker, Gwen Bjarnson, returns us to her childhood years in Bloudous, a small town in northern Manitoba with a major Icelandic population. Her sweet and easy-going father is a simple farmer, but her mother is an ambitious doctor bent on pursuing her career.
Gwen finds solace in the love and care of her Auntie Oli, who shows her the art of crafts. "Knitting wove us together." But dark forces will take the family from their safe haven to Vancouver, where her storyteller dad falls quickly into alcoholism. Stubborn but vulnerable Gwen is torn between two worlds, the tradition of her common-sense, hardworking forebears and the demands of the modern life with its soul-crushing and superficial definition of success. To marry? To go to university? To become a fashion designer and master of wools, colours, and patterns? Or to drown one's sorrows with liquor and the "sweet breath of Mary Jane"? In the creative atmosphere of Kitsilano, where "anything goes", love may come to Gwen, but is she ready to receive it? Temptations come at a price.
Overhanging this brooding and complex story is the time-honoured tale of the Sweater Curse. Knitting a sweater for a man who is not yet a husband will bring tragedy. Creating modern characters against the fateful background of the sagas, Dyck gives them free will to choose their own destinies. This book defies genre definitions as it finds its unique place on the fiction shelves. Here's hoping Leanne Dyck returns many times to the intriguing roots of her family's past.
She Felt No Pain (RendezVous Press, Oct. 2010)
That Dog Won't Hunt (Orca, Oct 2010)
On Kindle: A Little Learning and Man Corn Murders
Tracie Bell wrote an interesting blog about Symbolism in Fiction, read it here
Work on work in progress
Word count: 27, 569 words
A new sentence added: My face fell; she picked it up and we went for a walk.