The Breakwater Book of Contemporary Newfoundland Short Fiction is a greatest-hits ensemble. But with a single editor (author and English professor Larry Mathews) choosing the pieces, it’s better to read it like one enjoys a mix-tape. Mathews writes that these stories represent only “energetic, intense, imaginative, sophisticated, witty” prose.
Aging protagonists reflect on their lives in six of the 10 stories. Mathews observes that the final story, Lisa Moore’s previously unpublished “But Lovers with the Intensity I’m Talking About,” asks life’s fundamental question: how should we live? This question echoes throughout the collection.
While the editor avoids defining Newfoundland culture, these selections give a flavour for language and environment, urban and “beyond the overpass.” But their themes are universal.
Readers will argue the choices. Ramona Dearing’s “An Apology” remains one of the most profound English-language short stories in any era or locale. Meanwhile, Edward Riche’s “Deer Friends” was unfortunately chosen to represent satire, bizarrely (and humourlessly) poking fun of the language around “transitioning” from one gender to another.
As with the mix-tape from a friend, you won’t love every track. But this is work from some of Newfoundland’s greatest writers–immerse yourself.
The Breakwater Book of Contemporary Newfoundland Short Fiction
Edited by Larry Mathews
$19.95, paperback, 224 pp.
Breakwater Books, June 2015