Carnival Glass

17 December 2008

Carnival Glass
by Bonnie Dunlop
Published by Thistledown Press
Review by Leeann Minogue
$16.95 ISBN: 978-1-897235-46-1

There are eleven perfectly crafted stories in Carnival Glass, Bonnie Dunlop’s second short story collection. Carnival Glass is the title of one of the strongest stories in this book, but also an apt description of several of the characters that live within its pages: colourful, lovely, but ultimately fragile. These are tales of letters not sent, truths not told, and hurts that are hidden inside. Like carnival glass, Dunlop’s stories are beautiful, and worth collecting.

Almost all of these eleven stories are set in Saskatchewan, many of them in small towns near the Great Sand Hills in the southwestern part of the province, and some in unnamed prairie cities. Some of them, like “The Road to Tofino”, take prairie characters to unfamiliar places like Victoria or Puerto Vallarta.

The heroine of ‘Ordinary Lives’, Joanie, is a fledgling writer who corresponds with an unlikely pen pal. His advice is directed specifically to writers from unique places like Saskatchewan. “…The problem for writers coming from such places is not so much in finding stories – they are plentiful – but being able to write these stories in such a way as to make them believable.” Dunlop has met this challenge.

The people in these stories feel like old friends to me – neighbours from rural Saskatchewan or people I’ve known in Regina or Weyburn. The title story opens with words of wisdom from Clayton, who says “if your turds float, it’s a good sign. Means you’re getting adequate fiber.” Sadie nurtures her garden while her husband turns to another woman for comfort. Nadine fantasizes about Jackie Kennedy to compensate for a lost mother. And then there are the characters who remind me of myself. These are the women who will stay with me long after I put the book back on the shelf.


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