A finalist for the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize and winner of the City of Vancouver Book Award, Carleigh Baker's short story collection
Bad Endings (Anvil Press) is an evocative, darkly humourous debut that explores endings of all kinds: unexpected, timely, messy, fulfilling. The Globe and Mail says "[...] Baker pushes readers to reconsider their desire for resolution. Eschewing the easy, the neat, the smoothed over, allows us to consider the things about ourselves we might not like."
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An excerpt from the short story “Grey Water” from
Bad Endings (Anvil Press)
Your letter hasn’t arrived yet. I know it takes you awhile to write them, since you insist on using that complex pen and ink cursive. It’s beautiful. The letters are masterpieces: exercises in shape and form, gentle thoughts, flowing words. But it takes forever, and sometimes I wish you’d apply the same quantity over quality value to personal interaction that you have for flash fiction. No offence, the quality of the flash fiction is still very high. I read a Buzzfeed article that said introverts have no time for small talk. But small talk has a purpose sometimes. It fills in the cracks between people. Maybe I’ll get your letter tomorrow and feel bad for sniping at you. I’m sorry. It takes mail extra long to get to the island of course. Everything here is slower and more expensive. I thought the slower part would be nice. But damn, we’re talking really slow.
Amanda called to check on the dahlias, can you believe that? She didn’t ask how I was doing. The dahlias are fine, and the herbs are spectacular, they love a good drought. I was so annoyed at her when I got off the phone I decided to have another bath. But there was still some grey water left in the tub, not much, about two inches. I sponged out a little, into the stainless steel bowls, but then I gave up and just ran the damn water. Baths aren’t really the cleanest endeavour anyway. Sitting in your own filth, sloughed skin, bacteria. I noticed that the sides of the tub were a little crusty, so I decided I’d completely empty it and clean it out after the bath. But I was so relaxed when I got out, I lay down on the bed and fell asleep. Now it’s morning, and the water has been sitting in there all night, and I’m feeling really guilty. I’ll take a bunch downstairs to the garden. It’s Monday, upper body day. Which is good, because my hair is kind of gross after soaking in the tub. I should have tied it up. Not like there’s anyone here to notice.
You know, I’ve seen photos of the drought situation in California. Comparison between now and ten years ago: reservoirs, riverbeds, lakes. Have you seen the photos? The situation looks pretty grim. But last time we visited, I remember people watering their lawns, boulevards with lush green grass, the long, long shower we took together the morning before we left. All the swimming pools we passed over on our flight home, little blue tiles crammed into an uncomfortable crush of stucco and asphalt. Water is everything, and they don’t have much. Neither do we. The boulevards in Vancouver were green when I left. Are they still? Don’t you feel guilty every time you take a drink?
Carleigh Baker is a Métis/Icelandic writer. Her work has appeared in subTerrain, PRISM International, Joyland, and This Magazine. She won subTerrain‘s Lush Triumphant Award for short fiction in 2012, and was nominated for the Journey Prize in 2014. Her book reviews and critical writing have appeared in The Globe & Mail, The Malahat Review, The Goose, and EVENT magazine. Bad Endings (Anvil Press)was the winner of the City of Vancouver Book Award in 2017.
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Bad Endings or any of our
READ INDIGENOUS books and get this stunning limited-run tote bag featuring colourful artwork from Indigenous visual artists Kaya Joan, Alan Syliboy, Dawn Oman, and Lauren Crazybull until November 15th (while supplies last). And don't forget to check out today's other READ INDIGENOUS feature,
Candies by Basil Johnston (Kegedonce Press).
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