A finalist for the Chapters/Robertson Davies First Novel Award, Burning Ground has established Pearl Luke as a fresh, original voice and a writer to be watched. Burning Ground is the story of Percy, a fire watcher ensconced in the cocoon of her tower, scanning the horizon for "smokes." Completely alone, and wrapping herself in a fire-proof blanket of routine, Percy tries to insulate herself from the much more dangerous fires that burn from within.
It's the intrusion of the past that haunts her, as she struggles to escape disturbing family secrets, and the loss of Marlea, her best friend and sometime lover.As she reaches out to a new frienship, Percy faces a searing battle of the elements -- both emotional and physical -- that will redefine her whole life, her loves and losses. Cinematic in its style, erotic in tone, Burning Ground boldly explores desire, sexual identity and emotional risk, rising to a powerful ending, not easily forgotten.
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Pearl Luke's short fiction and essays have been published in several literary magazines and anthologies, and she is a regular contributor to the Calgary Herald.From Publishers Weekly:
A young woman at the isolated Envy River Tower keeps perpetual watch over the Canadian forest for signs of fire while exploring inner landscapes of memory and desire. Percy Turner, working alone in a forest service station for the seventh summer in a row, is plagued by emotional ambivalence and turmoil. She pursues an e-mail infatuation with a ranger whose voice on the daily radio reports intrigues her, but she does so mostly to distract herself from her obsessive, lifelong love for her childhood friend, Marlea. Though the two have been lovers off and on for years, Marlea's current relationship with a man creates clashes all around. Percy must also try to come to terms with the complicated madness of her deeply religious mother: suffering a breakdown after Percy's birth, she stood "by the side of the only highway into town with a placard reading: TAKE THIS CHILD OF THE DEVIL." Much of the book occurs in flashbacks set in the trailer park where the girls grew up; Luke frankly explores adolescent desire, including Percy's earliest fumblings with Marlea and a sadomasochistic affair with an older male neighbor. As an adult, Percy's sexuality is still ambiguous, mysterious even to her. The image of subterranean fire detailed in the book's prologue is a recurring theme, and although the metaphor may be too obvious for some "Hell is everywhere," Percy notes Luke manages not to overdo it. This debut, published last year in Canada to critical praise, skillfully layers its many conflicts into a haunting and memorable whole.
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