Centaur Rodeo: Modern Babies

There’s a certain type of short story that seems to be the thing lately, the type where you take a first-person narrative and pile on the details, slowly but surely, until it becomes clear the narrator’s less than sane or stable. It’s not a new idea by any means, but it’s enjoying a weird, quiet resurgence in Canadian indie lit. You can see it in some of the fiction Broken Pencil publishes, and on fiction-focused web-sites like Joyland. I heard Carolyn Tripp read this story at a Joyland event in Montreal a while ago, and it was interesting to get to read it again and revise my opinions. The story’s about a woman who adopts an aloe plant as her sort-of baby — but of course, that’s not what it’s actually about. The real test of a story like this (and of this story in particular) is in the details. Tripp does a better-than-average job of navigating the rocky terrain that is her protagonist’s psyche without seeming too obvious or overt. “Who peed on the thermometer?” the protagonist’s mother asks, a few pages after a pregnancy test. The one thing that confuses the story is Tripp’s sense of humour — phrases like “my baby appeared to be an organism that very much resembled a plant” are so deadpan it gets hard to tell if you’re reading satire or a serious story. Either way, though, it’s worth reading. (Emma Healey)

Litzine, Carolyn Tripp, trippcar.com trippcar@gmail.com

 

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