Sunday, September 28, 2008

Once by Rebecca Rosenblum

Rebecca Rosenblum is too close a friend for my opinion of her book Once to be considered impartial, and so however much I loved her book (which is very much), you needn't be concerned with that. In lieu of my own opinion, however, I give you some from a few less biased sorts:

My husband Stuart says, "I don't know if I've ever read short stories before that so stayed on my mind for days afterwards. "Linh Lai", and "Pho Mi 99", they're stories, but they're also whole worlds and I couldn't stop thinking about them."

The Globe & Mail's Jim Bartley writes, "Plot is the least of this intricate story. What matters, tickling the sense memory, is the prickling pleasure of Isobel's tired feet freed to the air at bedtime; the sugary baklava stuck to its crumpled carton; the florid, chewing face of the tax teacher as he negotiates a wad of honey and nuts. Rosenblum builds and subtly rounds off a story arc, but the sustaining life humming all through this tale comes straight from the sensory input. In Isobel's word-picture ramble, Rosenblum's meanings arrive on the reader's intuitions. Her art remains veiled. The quotidian is rarely so riveting."

Daniel Baird writes in The Walrus, "Rosenblum can also register the aching and melancholic, but with a remarkable lack of sentimentality... These young characters' futures are a sea of uncertainties. But what we can be certain of is that Once is a first by a young author of singular talent."

From Christina Decarie in The Quill and Quire, "Each story stands alone, but Rosenblum sometimes weaves the characters in and out of each other's lives, and when, say, the restaurant in "Route 99" is revisited, it feels as good for the reader as it does for one of the characters, a single dad with kids in tow: 'The buggy's thin wheels wobble over every lump of snow, salt, ice, and Jake whined unintelligibly through his scarf. But it was worth it ... I could smell fish sauve and cilantro, hear Koenberg's rusty mutter' ... Fantastic and realistic, sad and unnerving, these stories are a delight." -- Christina Decarie