One Hundred Days of Rain (BookThug, 2015)
As well as the author of One Hundred Days of Rain, Carellin Brooks has written Fresh Hell: Motherhood in Pieces and Wreck Beach (New Star Books). She is the co-editor of Carnal Nation and the editor of Bad Jobs. She lives in Vancouver, where she was born, left in her early teens, and returned to settle in her mid-twenties.
Where in Canada:
The book is set very specifically in a Vancouver of eternal rain. It makes a lot of essentially unfair distinctions—between the locals that know the rain so intimately, and people who’ve moved in more recently and have more money and basically ignore it, that sort of thing. One Hundred Days of Rain, as the title says, tries to describe this very particular West Coast rain in one hundred different ways, taking the boredom of that eternal weather that seemingly never changes and playing with it, seeing what it is and can become.
One Hundred Days of Rain doesn’t exactly portray that picture postcard view of the West Coast you might expect—quite the opposite, in fact. But in describing the varying moods of rain it comes to show how even the most unprepossessing circumstances—endless rain, and the narrator’s melancholy trudge through it—can have a kind of beauty of their own: “Heavy, wet drops cover the known world. They are splashing like a curtain wrapped around her as she cycles with her head down.” There’s a sense of movement as the narrator travels through the city, the changed city that’s become essentially hostile to her because of rain and her own situation, where she’s trying to rebuild her life after a bad breakup.
And the rain does change, the bad situation isn’t exactly the same day after day. One day rain’s a heavy, bullying her like a kid shoves someone into a locker; the next, it’s become pale, almost wispy, like the terminally ill heroine of a novel. So this stuff you talk about when you live in Vancouver, about how rain is so endless, how it just goes on day after day, is in fact a comforting fiction.
I said earlier that this book is full of unfair distinctions, and I couldn’t actually resist poking fun at the native Vancouverite either—I don’t mean the indigenous Vancouverite, but the one who was born here or who’s taken up the talismans of the city. I’m thinking specifically of the yoga mat and green smoothie crowd. I always thought they were so ostentatious, and it wasn’t until a few years ago that I realized that I’ve actually become one of them too. It’s not like we avoid these clichés by being aware of them.
People who don’t live here might be used to thinking about Vancouver as this vacation paradise, because most people who visit come in August, when it’s so beautiful and sunny. I think everybody already knows about that. But you might not think about the beauty of Vancouver being awash, this “wet world” as the narrator describes it. Maybe you come here and it’s raining, and it’s not that your vacation’s ruined, but that you begin then to experience the nuances of it.
* * *
Thank you to Carellin Brooks for sharing her view of Vancouver with us, and to BookThug for connecting us!