Full of Lit: Fall in Love with Thea Bowering's First Collection
May 16, 2014
Thea Bowering and her first collection, Love at Last Sight, published by Alberta press, NeWest. Quill & Quire called Bowering, "... an inventive and original writer, unafraid to be playful and take unexpected turns." Sounds promising... let's take a closer look.
We're halfway through Short Story Month and we've featured half of the 12 contributors in Full of Lit, our short story anthology, to give you the chance to get to know these fantastic writers and the publishers behind their collections just a little better. Missed a few posts? Get caught up on all our contributors here.
But on to today's contributor: Thea Bowering and her first collection, Love at Last Sight, published by Alberta press, NeWest. Quill & Quire called Bowering, "... an inventive and original writer, unafraid to be playful and take unexpected turns." Sounds promising... let's take a closer look.
Strikingly modern while also filled with fin de siècle regret, Thea Bowering’s first story collection Love at Last Sight is shot through with allusion and timeless themes given new life. In the story "The Monster, Or, The Deferred Subject", featured in Full of Lit, we meet one of Bowering's archetypal femme flaneurs, a self-proclaimed "monster girl" who roams through the streets and back alleys of her city remembering old lovers and spying on her neighbours' personal lives.
We asked the author… Thea Bowering
Tell us what your collection is about in 140 characters or less.
Urban, rebellious, wanderers search Canadian and European centres for loves that are lost, hiding, or imaginary. The styles, forms, and narratives wander too.
Do you have a favourite story in your collection? One that gave you more trouble than the others?
The novella, To The Dogs, is the most satisfying in terms of drama, humour, structure, depth and realization of theme. I think it tells a story about a big, if behind the scenes, aspect of life in Edmonton that hasn’t been told much before: the bar life/industry as a cultural byproduct of the oil industry.
I think "The Sitter" gave me the most trouble, and perhaps failed in some way, though its themes continue to interest me a lot. It’s a love story between a digital archivist and an art history student that is a retelling of the Orpheus/Eurydice myth. With the theme of portraiture, I look at how two romantically distanced lovers connect and are distanced through forms of social media—a reinterpretation of that famous deadly look shared by Orpheus and Eurydice. The story brings up big questions about the technologization of art and culture, and relationships. It veers into ecology—perhaps too much for a short story, maybe something for a novel.
Did you consciously decide to be a short story writer -- or did the format choose you?
Maybe the form chose me, because I had tried writing poems and realized very early that I would never have the sense of line nor language I would need to do anything new. But with my first short story I was already excited seeing what I could do with form: The first story I ever wrote was a series of short scenes involving a ’65 Valiant convertible, that together told a love story. The next was a retelling of one of my father’s short stories, “Staircase Descended,” from the point of view of the narrator’s daughter, absent in the original.
Who is your favourite short story writer and why?
I can’t think of just one. One of my favourite collections is by a Danish writer Solvej Balle, called According to the Law. I envy her cool, scientific minimalism when approaching big philosophical questions, and human frailty.
What makes short stories so different (besides the obvious) than other writing formats?
The novel takes planning I think, a lot of pre-writing work, and this usually shows in structure and the energy of the writing. The short story can put you right into the moment of action, of writing and reading it; at the same time, it can leave a lot of narrative action out, can suggest a lot; the energy is different. There’s not as much pressure to realize everything, satisfy the reader in some preconditioned way, maybe. I think the best short story writers leave a lot out.
I’ve found myself using the term short fiction, or short prose, rather than story, because I think I like to emphasize writing and form over narrative. It’s easier with shorter work to treat the prose like a sculpture you can add to and take away from using scraps of almost anything: poetry, plays, novels, etc.-–as long as some tension holds it together, it works! Maybe the short story has never really had its day the way the novel or the play or the poem has; there has been little consensus on the worth, characteristics, and rules of the short story, which allows for an ongoing freedom to play with all the stylistic elements in a way that isn’t battering against, or trying to fit into, a tradition.
What would be the title of your memoir, if you were ever to write one?
I think I have a long way to go before I can write a memoir, in the typical sense of the genre. I’m working on a long essay now called The Daughter Library. It’s an essay that’s mostly about my relationship with my parents and their literary lives. Maybe it will become book length.
Thea Bowering has been published in The Capilano Review, Matrix, Dandelion, Vancouver Sun, and Scandinavian Canadian Studies. A native of Vancouver, she now makes her home in Edmonton, Alberta. Her first book, Love at Last Sight, was released by NeWest Press in Fall 2013.
We asked the publisher… NeWest Press
Tell us why you like reading short stories and what struck you about this collection in particular.
Short stories offer form and variety in endless supply. At their best they can articulate facets of the human condition with great economy. Thea Bowering's first collection offered us a new way of looking at Edmonton's city streets, at the lives that make our nightlife function, and the women who recontextualize the world around them. Added to that is the great depth of allusion and character found in the writing, making the book a must for us to publish.
Founded officially in 1979, Edmonton-based NeWest Press set out to provide better opportunities for young writers in the prairie region. The press’ influence was to extend beyond Alberta’s literary and academic communities and provide a populist forum where vital social and cultural issues could be addressed from a left-of-centre perspective. Today the editorial board at NeWest continues its commitment to developing and publishing first-time writers as well as ensuring the availability of western Canadian classics. At thirty years and counting, NeWest Press has established itself as one of the country’s most enduring and respected literary presses, a reflection of the many years of dedication, passion, and perseverance that have kept its original publishing vision alive.
Thank you to Thea and NeWest for answering our questions and being a part of Full of Lit. Click below to purchase your copy of Full of Lit now! Want to know who the other contributors are? Click here.
Edited from the original post, published on the LPG blog
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