The best contemporary North American short story collections that find the beauty in hard-ass, hard-luck cases
Best short stories
The wonderful Bethany Gibson recently honoured me with an invitation to contribute something literary to her online art project, The Scales Project, “a conversation between artists … a call-and-response, a provocation, and a forum for connection and communication through art about the climate crisis and ecological collapse.” Going through the posts from other artists, I was blown away by the quality of the work, the depth of thought and insight, and the emotional power of the conversations.
I contributed two pieces. One, “Blank Vision Board,” is an excerpt from a short story called “Mulch Glue,” about a teenaged aspiring activist who finds little support in town, where the toxic mill has economic control. The other, “Terrible Twos,” a response to Tom Cull’s excellent poem, “Anthropocene,” is about frivolity and being confronted with the knowledge of its destructiveness. At least, that’s how I read it.
If you’re an artist with something to say about climate and ecology, consider submitting something to the conversation.
This story first appeared in The Laker News on November 19,2020.
BERWICK: Lorrie Rand remembers two pivotal moments leading to the creation of the ReCover Initiative, which aims to reimagine energy-efficient buildings in Nova Scotia. The first was in 2013, at a passive-house conference in Maine, where she was learning how to use smart design to build a house that uses 80 to 90 percent less energy. She attended a presentation about a program in the Netherlands that had successfully retrofitted thousands of homes to become net-zero—meaning they generate as much energy as they use for heating, hot water and electrical—at no extra cost to homeowners.
“I was like, ‘oh my gosh this is what we need!’” Rand recalls.
This is from my introduction to Indian School Road: Legacies of the Shubenacadie Residential School, regarding my thought process on why I felt compelled to write a very difficult book:
Here is what I found first: a recurring nightmare. Me wandering the black and white halls of the old building, as seen only in photographs, pristine but steeped in an old rotten stench. The facts playing hide-and-seek within the walls. Finding only a sense of lurking, dishonest evil. What fool’s mission was this? What right did I have to come here?