Shortlisted for Best Cover Design at the 2020 Alberta Book Publishing Awards!
In this provocative collection of short stories, Karen Hofmann creates characters who struggle to connect or disconnect from entanglements and relationships. With ironic accuracy and sensuous imagery, Hofmann considers a range of human foibles: a newlywed couple who transform into feral beasts during the hardships of a remote research expedition; backbiting faculty members who strip down during a post-conference BBQ; an heretical nun who explores the possibility of a new life by imaginatively excavating the fossils of BC's Burgess Shale; and an ambitious bylaw officer determined to make her mark on the city's streets.
In Echolocation, Karen Hofmann has found new ways to sound the depths of the human heart.
Karen Hofmann grew up in the Okanagan Valley and is an associate professor at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops, British Columbia. A first collection of poetry, Water Strider, was published by Frontenac House in 2008 and shortlisted for the Dorothy Livesay prize. Her first novel, After Alice, was published by NeWest Press in 2014, and a second novel, What is Going to Happen Next, in 2017. A short fiction collection, Echolocation, was released by NeWest in April 2019. Karen Hofmann writes about rural British Columbia and especially the B.C. Interior. Her poems have been shortlisted for the BC Book Prizes, and she has won the Okanagan Short Fiction contest three times. She writes about place and landscape, and is interested in the ways in which individuals and social groups respond and adapt to change.
From "The Burgess Shale"
And she has come to the mountains. She has not driven through these passes before. The sight of the slopes and peaks affects her: She is appalled. They are rough, rude, in extremis. Naked rock, they jut and thrust.
When she falls asleep, she dreams that she is driving a pass. She dreams that she must feel along the edge of the highway with her hand while she drives, to make sure that she does not go off the edge, down the side of the mountain.
In the morning, her car will not start. She finds a tow truck, a garage, goes exploring on foot.
It is autumn; the aspens of Banff have turned golden. She walks around the downtown, stopping at a wine store, a soap store that censers patchouli and lemongrass into the mountain air for a full block in every direction. She stops at a rock and mineral store selling fossils. She is tempted by a display case of iridescent ammolites. Fossilized nacre: the colours, red, gold, violet, peacock shimmy across the gems' surfaces. But what would she do with them? She does not want to accumulate possessions, weight.
She sorts through all of the buckets in the rock store: She has infinite time on her hands. Fossils from the time before these mountains, for sale.
She walks along the Bow, admiring the brilliant and varied colours of the natural shrubbery. She admires the tumbling waterfall. She crosses a bridge and walks through an old cemetery, where elk are grazing unafraid. She sleeps well, after a dinner of pasta, in her hotel room.
The whorled shells, the world. Time all curled up in its shale strata: the day with its night curving back in reflection; the year with its seasons of burgeoning and decline. The river, the mountains, where once was equatorial sea. We do not visit the same river twice. We do not stand still.
Praise for Echolocation:
"Echolocation is a magical and surreal examination of humanity at the edges of experience. "
~ Kristian Wilson, Bustle
". ..lived up to our high expectations. "
~ Kerry Clare, 49th Shelf
"Part Darwinian, part Ovidian, these are waltzing and desirous tales of transformation, thrumming with verdant light reaching through forest canopies. Hofmann's characters are strange creatures bumping against one another in the shadows, with cracking voices seeking to connect. And then, when you least expect it, mad leaps from the dark into the light. "
~ R. W. Gray, author of Entropic and Crisp