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The Drum

Issue 9. February 2011

KEVIN BROWN One Life

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The narrator of Kevin Brown's "One Life" returns to Hong Kong after his wife's death from SARS with the sole mission to contract the disease himeslf so that he can be reunited with her. We follow the narrator through the city as he reflects on his marriage, and ponders the strange situation of trying to stay alive so that he can court a particular kind of death. "One Life" is read aloud by Actors' Shakespeare Project actor Bill Barclay. (23:40)

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ILIE RUBY The Language of Trees

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Ilie Ruby's novel The Language of Trees is set in upstate New York and greatly informed by the Seneca Indians, whose lore imbues the book with spirituality. In 1988, the Ellis children set out on a stormy night in a canoe borrowed from the Songos next door to escape their brutish father. Luke, the youngest, drowns, and his older sisters are never the same: Melanie turns to drugs while Maya suffers bouts of catatonia. Years later, Grant Songo returns to his family's lake cabin after separating from his wife. While running in the woods, a wounded wolf trails him, and when Echo O'Connell, Grant's teenage flame, crashes her car to avoid hitting the wolf, she and Grant reconnect and are drawn into the mystery of the recently missing Melanie. Many locals believe Melanie's back on drugs, but Lion, the father of her baby boy, is convinced she's in danger. These characters face real and psychological fears to endure the transformative experiences needed to become whole in a worthwhile story filled with mysticism and symbolism. Ilie reads from the Maya section of the novel in this excerpt for The Drum. (12:41)

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MIRIAM NOVOGRODSKY The Year We Ate Half A Cow

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Miriam Novogrodsky writes about growing up an outsider in Montpelier, Vermont, and the year her father's winter obsession turned to economical meat-eating and the creative use of the compost pile. This is a tale of chest freezers, prairie bonnets, and snowshoe picnics with unusual sandwiches. (14:01)

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JENNIFER HAIGH Interview

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Jennifer Haigh met with The Drum's editor Henriette Lazaridis Power to answer questions about movies, film adaptations, Edith Piaf, and why she prefers gray days. Jennifer also talked about the ideas behind her novels, including her fourth, FAITH, which is due out in May 2011. (22:56)

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ANDREW KAUFMAN All My Friends Are Superheroes

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Through a partnership with Iambik Audiobooks, we bring you the first chapter of Andrew Kaufman's novel All My Friends Are Superheroes, published by Coach House Books. Gordon Mackenzie reads the chapter aloud.All Tom's friends really are superheroes. There's the Ear, the Spooner, the Impossible Man. Tom even married a superhero, the Perfectionist. But at their wedding, the Perfectionist was hypnotized (by ex-boyfriend Hypno, of course) to believe that Tom is invisible. Nothing he does can make her see him. So she's moving to Vancouver. She'll use her superpower to make Vancouver perfect and leave all the heartbreak in Toronto. With no idea Tom's beside her, she boards an airplane in Toronto. Tom has until the wheels touch the ground in Vancouver to convince her he's visible, or he loses her forever. (11:12)

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LYNNE TILLMAN No Lease on Life

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The East Village streets of Lynne Tillman's No Lease on Life are overrun with crooked cops, drug addicts, pimps and prostitutes. Garbage piles up along the sidewalks amid the blaring soundtrack of car stereos. Confrontations are supercharged by the summer heat wave. This merciless noise has left Elizabeth Hall an insomniac. Junkies roam her building and overturn trashcans, but the mean-spirited landlord refuses to help clean or repair the decrepit conditions. Live-in boyfriend Roy is good-natured but too avoidant to soothe the sores of city life. Though Elizabeth fights on for normalcy and sanity in this apathetic metropolis, violent fantasies threaten to push her over the edge. (29:34)

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theme: comedy

theme: crisis

theme: relationships

theme: family

genre: essay

novel excerpt

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