I recently finished reading Death and the Seaside, by Alison Moore (Biblioasis, 2019). A spare book, just 179pp, Death and the Seaside certainly packs both literary and psychologically thrilling punches. The novel’s ‘action’ unfolds through the alternating points of view of three female characters. We begin with Susan, herself a character within a story that the main character, Bonnie, has been writing (cool premise, yes?). While Susan has her challenges, Bonnie appears to be a failure at most everything in life. She abandoned her English degree in her final year, has trouble holding down a job, can’t seem to form lasting friendships, and presents as both extremely passive and suggestible. She likes to write but has never finished a single short story. Nearing the age of thirty, Bonnie is asked by her parents to move out of their home. She ends up renting a crummy apartment on Slash Lane (oh-oh) in a house owned by the ever-so-creepy and overbearing Sylvia. Sylvia, who takes an immediate interest in Bonnie and her abandoned writing efforts, eventually suggests they go on holiday together to a sea town like the one in Bonnie’s most recent unfinished story. Despite her personal shortcomings, the reader cannot help but root for Bonnie; she is the underdog of all underdogs. Moore masterfully dials up the tension throughout, leading to an unexpected finale that feels both inevitable and deliciously satisfying.
Colette Maitland published Keeping the Peace with Biblioasis in 2013. The novel Riel Street with Frontenac House came out the following year. A warm thank you to the OAC’s Recommender Grants for Writers program, Biblioasis, The New Quarterly and The Porcupine’s Quill, for their support of these new stories.