Fiction Diane Schoemperlen Forms Of Devotion

ISBN 13: 9780006391838

Forms Of Devotion

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9780006391838: Forms Of Devotion


Diane Schoemperlen's acclaimed In the Language of Loveexpanded our expectations of the contemporary novel, using everydaywords to deconstruct a young woman's life and loves. In her new shortstory collection, Forms of Devotion, she again tests the bounds of her craft, creating an arresting and wonderfully readable work that is also a treat for the eye.

Forms of Devotioncontains eleven stories, each one a brilliant interplay of words andimages. The illustrations, selected by Schoemperlen and depictingalmost every subject imaginable, are wood engravings and line drawingsfrom the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. In somecases, she was inspired to write the story after studying theillustrations; in other cases, she wrote the story first, then chose orconstructed the pictures to accompany it. The result is a playful,sometimes surreal and often mysterious juxtaposition of a historicalfascination with anatomy and classical themes with the author'scontemporary exploration of everyday people, places and things.

Eachstory is a creative delight, perfectly formed and rich in mischievouswit, irony and multi-layered meaning. The title story, “Forms ofDevotion,” is a wonderful literary cataloguing of the traits andqualities of the faithful, those who “sail off to work, perfectconfident that they will indeed get there: on time, intact. It does notoccur to them that they could just as well be broadsided by a Coca-Coladelivery truck running the red light at the corner of Johnson andMain.” “Five Small Rooms” is an intriguing, spectral journey into thenarrator's imagination, with the reader left wondering, “Is it madnessor a murder mystery?” In “How Deep is the River,” the author offers aninnovative, completely compelling take on the ubiquitous high schoolmath problem that begins “Train A and Train B are traveling toward thesame bridge from opposite directions...”

Quite different in form, yet alike in their ability to entertain and provoke, the stories in Forms of Devotion show once again that Diane Schoemperlen's voice is as intriguing, fresh and electric as ever.

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About the Author:

Diane Schoemperlen is the Governor General’s Award winning author of twelve works of fiction and non-fiction, most recently By the Book: Stories and Pictures, a collection illustrated with her own full-colour collages, which was longlisted for the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award. She is a recipient of the Marian Engel Award from the Writers’ Trust of Canada.

From Kirkus Reviews:

Echoing her first novel's artifice (In the Language of Love, 1996), Schoemperlen uses images culled largely from the 18th and 19th centuries as inspiration for her storytelling, winding up with a string of aborted experiments. It may be inaccurate even to call all 11 pieces here stories, since several are witty, wicked mock pieces of social commentary. The title piece offers ten categories for understanding ``the faithful,'' defined through reference to such things as innocence, abundance, and hope, and using as illustrations of these qualities engravings of good burgher-citizens leading unremarkable, inane lives. Similarly, a decorative alphabet seems to have been the inspiration of the concluding piece, ``Rules of Thumb,'' in which the text appended to each letter offers ironic advice on everything from well-being to xenophilia, lampooning those who think too well of themselves to accept the burgher label. Sandwiched between these is more ironic material, ranging from the purely expository ``How to Write a Serious Novel about Love'' to the more allegorical ``Count Your Blessings (A Fairy Tale).'' The latter offers the book's single sop to conventional narrative: A perfect woman, Grace, finds a perfect mate, William, who gives her perfect children but cant prevent her from sinking ever-more deeply into depression, until an old-fashioned doctor making a house call uses radical surgery to cure her (the cure, obviously, being worse than the affliction). Among the less sustained narrative efforts is ``How Deep Is the River?,'' a quixotic look at passing trains, each with its cargo of discontented passengers headed in opposite directions in search of the same satisfactions. While theres no denying the authors considerable skill at turning a wry phrase, all the glitter here yields precious little substance. (144 b&w line drawings and half-tones) (Author tour) -- Copyright 1998, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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