By Alice Zorn
Joelle isabout to lose her husband Marc, who has become obsessed with Ketia, a youngHaitian woman. Ketia lies to her family to conceal her liaison with Marc. Joelle’s friend Diane does not realize that her boyfriend Nazim has never toldhis Muslim family in Morocco about her. ... Read more
Joelle isabout to lose her husband Marc, who has become obsessed with Ketia, a youngHaitian woman. Ketia lies to her family to conceal her liaison with Marc. Joelle’s friend Diane does not realize that her boyfriend Nazim has never toldhis Muslim family in Morocco about her. Then Nazim gets a letter that threatenshis secret.
Alice Zorn leads readers into the lives of adiverse cast of characters struggling with conflicting cultural values and thedemands of intimacy. Set against the busy urban mosaic of Montreal, Arrhythmiais a study of betrayal: the large betrayals we commit against our loved ones,and the smaller ones we commit against ourselves.
Alice Zorn is the author of Arrhythmia and a book of short fiction, Ruins & Relics, which was a finalist for the 2009 Quebec Writers’ Federation First Book Prize. She has twice placed first in Prairie Fire’s Fiction Contest. She lives in Montreal.
Excerptfrom Part One:
Dear Harold,Thank you for asking me to see this pleasant 47-year-old lady with bleedinghemorrhoids.
Plugged into theDictaphone, Joelle types quickly. Frank is young for a staff doctor, only inhis mid-thirties, but his writing style conveys a certain old-school flavour. Female patients are ladies he invariably describes as interestingor pleasant—the ladies, not their condition ordisease. Joelle’s fingers sometimes get mixed up.
Across fromher desk hulk the metal filing cabinets with the patients’ charts. Above themhang posters of a colonoscopy procedure. The colourful cartoons show a doctorguiding an endoscope up an intestinal track much like a miner with a lampexploring a tunnel. Patients can more or less bear the cartoons. They averttheir eyes from the magnified photos of real bowels, the glistening carmine androyal blue of live viscera. Frank believes in education, but honestly, Joellesometimes thinks, his photos and posters must only tighten all those sphinctersabout to have an exam. A painting of a sailboat would make moresense.
She frowns as she types. Focuses on the words thatherald varying degrees of doom. Polypectomy. Adenocarcinoma.
A few times this morning she felt the pricklingof tears and had to blink wildly. Marc didn’t say anything yesterday, nor thismorning. Though he’s always matter-of-fact before work. Shower, coffee, andtoast. Already dressed in nursing scrubs. Glancing through the paper he foldsand takes with him.
He can’t have forgotten her birthdaybecause they’re going to his parents’ on the weekend. Yesterday, when Dianephoned to ask if she wanted to go out to celebrate, the four of them, Joellesaid that Marc had already made plans. She couldn’t bring herself to tell Dianethat he hadn’t mentioned her birthday yet.
”Arrhythmiais an ambitious, deftly handled exploration of human beings inlove. ”
~ Claire Holden Rothman, Montreal Review ofBooks
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