ALU Book Club: Meet A Gentle Habit by Cherie Dimaline!

August 3, 2016

Welcome to our August Book Club pick! After our July pick, Two-Gun & Sun, which we had so much fun with, we wanted to pick something a little different. To that end we decided on a short story collection: A Gentle Habit, published by Kegedonce Press, was written by Toronto author Cherie Dimaline and features six stories all about people who are dealing with unusual habits and obsessions in their mundane lives.

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Welcome to our August Book Club pick!

After our July pick, Two-Gun & Sun, which we had so much fun with, we wanted to pick something a little different. To that end we decided on a short story collection: A Gentle Habit, published by Kegedonce Press, was written by Toronto author Cherie Dimaline and features six stories all about people who are dealing with unusual habits and obsessions in their mundane lives.   

When the book first came out Cherie shared with us where her inspiration came from—the Charles Bukowski quote, “in between the punctuating agonies, life is such a gentle habit”—and it made us put this collection on our TBR pile. And we weren’t the only ones: Lee Maracle recommended Cherie’s collection as part of the CBC’s “12 Books By Indigenous Women You Should Read” saying,” No one comes away from a story fest like A Gentle Habit unmoved.” Needless to say, the choice wasn’t that difficult.

The stories themselves follow a diverse group of outsiders whose lives, on the surface, seem for the most part quite ordinary. Through Cherie’s writing we are drawn into their rich inner lives: a young girl participates in the mysterious ritual of bead hunting at recess, yearning for a good haul, only to discover its secrets; an urban paper pusher dealing with a drug habit finds he is increasingly drawn to a new obsession that makes his job quite difficult; a suburban dad’s life is thrown for a loop when his pride and joy—his garden—is violated, setting off a new routine; the onset of puberty proves to be more complicated than usual for a young woman with an unusual disease and a difficult mother; a teenage boy just can’t quit the intriguing yet elusive girl he yearns for despite his mother’s warnings; and finally, a woman feels tied to her home and her husband despite wanting to let them both go.    

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Cherie had previously published two novels with Theytus Books (Red Room and The Girl Who Grew a Galaxy) so Kegedonce Press staff was aware of Cherie’s writing and everyone was a fan. Cherie approached the press with her project and submitted her manuscript to them through their online application process. Kegedonce was very excited to see her proposal come through, especially since they already had a bit of a rapport with her.

Once the manuscript was accepted and they got down to details, discussion started about the cover for the collection. Cherie already had a photograph in mind, one that was taken by Roy Guste. There were only a few minor edits necessary, including deciding on an accent colour against the black and white image.

Things were pretty smooth sailing along the way to publication. They even got a couple of really good surprises: they received review quotes from both Waubgeshig Rice and Joseph Boyden!  

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Since the book has been in print they’ve received some really positive feedback. Readers have shared their admiration for Cherie’s ability to breathe life into so many diverse characters within one collection and reviewers have pointed out that the stories ignite a variety of emotions that stick with the reader long after the book is finished.

#teamALUreads would definitely agree with the points of view of both the readers and reviewers about A Gentle Habit. Between the fully formed characters and the variety of obsessions they display, it can actually be hard to pick a stand out story from this collection. However, since we’re all friends and this club is super fun, we’re going to attempt to guess your favourite story.

 

Take this quiz, read A Gentle Habit, and see if we’ve got you figured!

 

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Excited, yet? Read our excerpt of A Gentle Habit, buy a copy, and/or see what we have on tap for book club throughout August:


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