First Fiction Fridays: Eating Habits of the Chronically Lonesome by Megan Gail Coles

November 14, 2014

Eating Habits of the Chronically Lonesome is one book that you are not going to want to overlook. The characters in these ten intertwined stories are bold, saucy and command attention. They are troubled, complex and unabashedly human. In each story there is a raw truth that speaks ultimately to our desire to attain real connection ─ whether the connection be emotional, physical or a combination of both.

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What:

Eating Habits of the Chronically Lonesome (Creative Book Publishing, 2014)

Who:

Megan Gail Coles is a graduate of Memorial University of Newfoundland and the National Theatre School of Canada. She is Co-Founder and Co-Artistic Director of Poverty Cove Theatre Company. Megan currently resides in St. John's where she works at Breakwater Books Ltd. Eating Habits of the Chronically Lonesome is her first fiction publication. 

Why you need to read this now:

Eating Habits of the Chronically Lonesome is one book that you are not going to want to overlook. The characters in these ten intertwined stories are bold, saucy and command attention. They are troubled, complex and unabashedly human. In each story there is a raw truth that speaks ultimately to our desire to attain real connection ─ whether the connection be emotional, physical or a combination of both.

The first story, “There Are Tears in This Coconut,” brilliantly sets the pace as we follow two sisters travelling abroad. The point-of-view alternates between Clare and Leanne, with each sister brutally ranting about each other’s life circumstances and frustrating behavior, as only siblings can. “…you can’t tell Leanne anything. She knows best, knows everything about everyone, everything. Leanne carries a soapbox around in her backpack which is, of course, immaculate. Fucking sister. Wanted to go to Africa first. To help, she said. To make something of her life, she said. I thought, Africa doesn’t need help from lonely thirty-two-year old divorcees. Instead, I said that Africa didn’t have enough food for the Africans. Leanne said she wouldn’t eat very much. So I agreed to go to Thailand. And here I am trying to wash fucking sunblock out of my eyes with a garden hose. In Koa Toa. Alone in a bungalow at night that has no electricity.” Cleverly woven between the bitterness of these humorous rants is the narrative which speaks of their undeniable, unbreakable bond, which surmounts everything.  

In “House Plants and Picture Frames” we are introduced to Sadie whose story of longing for her parents’ acceptance is heartbreaking. “The worst thing you can be at our house is just like someone. Like when Dad is mad, I am just like my mother. And when Mom is mad, I am just like my father. I am never like both of them at the same time… Someone is always angry and yelling at half of me. I get used to this.”

These characters also have a strong connection to where they belong in the landscape of the world. They are keenly aware of their surroundings and are unapologetic for their reactions. The scenes painted by Coles are vivid and real. She takes us to places where mosquito nets smell like “…cigarette smoke and other people’s sex” and where a size-six Canadian girl moves to Korea and instantly becomes, “… a fat girl…a bull in a china shop…” Chad Pelley perfectly summarizes this in his review in The Overcast when he says, “The physical world is as alive as the emotional world in this book...”

In Eating Habits of the Chronically Lonesome Megan Gail Coles has created an unforgettable cast of characters. They are the heart and soul of this collection. So, if you are into character-driven fiction, particularly, character-driven short fiction, don’t miss out on this CanLit gem. 

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Thank you, Creative Book Publishing for sharing this book with us! 


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