First Fiction Fridays: Gone South and Other Ways to Disappear
May 13, 2016
It's Short Story Month, and we're fit to feature Julia Leggett's fierce debut, Gone South and Other Ways to Disappear (Mother Tongue Publishing). This collection of raw, darkly humorous stories concerning women at the brink of momentous and even devastating life changes follows cancer patients and copyeditors, spousal abuse victims and the newly, almost magically thin. Together, they tell stories of women's relationships with their bodies, their partners, and each other so rivetingly, that you can "binge-read" this book like a Netflix show and be none the wiser.
Julia Leggett was born in Calgary but grew up in Zimbabwe. She has an MFA in creative writing from the University of British Columbia. She has served on the poetry editorial board for Prism magazine. Her work has appeared in Force Field: 77 Women Poets of British Columbia, edited by Susan Musgrave (Mother Tongue Publishing, 2013). She lives in Victoria, BC, where she is working on her masters in counselling psychology and a book of poetry.
Why you need to read this now:
Julia Leggett's debut collection of short fiction, Gone South and Other Ways to Disappear offers glimpses into the lives of eight women, often at the precise moment that each protagonist is broken open and altered by challenging and unusual circumstances. In a series of letters to her childhood friend, a 33 year old youth counsellor shares the relentless and devastating course of her cancer. She reels from the blow of every new discovery of metastases and from the gruelling rounds of chemo treatment. Her life stripped back to the bone. "Everyday I walk the tightrope between denial and despair. I think perhaps we do that all our lives but only when you're ill is the tightrope brought into such sharp focus".
In "Thin," an obese cubicle worker obsessed with losing weight takes a diet pill that works instantly, transforming her into the slender self she's been dreaming of since she was a 15 year old girl. Her self-loathing and hyper-critical lens is suddenly turned outwards to the women around her. Competitive and narcissistic, her thin body becomes a weapon she hopes will induce the same misery in other women as she endured when she was fat.
A young woman in an abusive marriage breaks-up with her partner over and over again, determined to find a way to cut ties. ""Are you coming home?" he asked. Ginny rested her forehead on the steering wheel. The hard plastic dug into her skin. Her decision wasn't rational. She didn't make a tally of Matt's pros and cons. He didn't have to persuade her. It wasn't sexual magnetism. It wasn't even optimism. She just didn't know how to be out in dark water alone. She turned and swam towards the shore."
These dialogue and character-driven stories, peppered with a wry, dark humour and full of surprising reversals and insight make for an engrossing and entertaining read.
What other people are saying:
"Leggett finely balances dialogue and character-driven storytelling to create a binge-worthy reading experience." –Taryn Hubbard,
"I read Julia Leggett’s Gone South and Other Ways to Disappear in one sitting, absorbing the satire, drama and the dissolution of relationships like a piece of salacious gossip I was trying not to overhear. The eight sharply perceptive stories in this collection give us a diverse community of women and their relationships with their partners, their bodies and their troubled selves." –Sophie McCreesh, Descant
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Thanks so much to Mona at Mother Tongue for sharing Gone South and Other Ways to Disappear with us. For more great debut fiction, check out our other
First Fiction Fridays features!
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