‘Monoceros’ by Suzette Mayr

I’ve been lamenting the lack of energy in Canadian fiction of late. The pace can be glacial, the gaze insular, as if by slowing time down a writer can amplify very little and make it seem about something huge. It’s not just a matter of canvas, it’s a matter of perspective, and of pace. Suzette Mayr seems to understand this, and she offers up a thinking, introspective, yet fast paced novel.

Following the trail of sorrow in the aftermath of a young gay high school student at a Catholic high school, Mayr moves from character to character, tracing the impact, big and small, on the community that has played host to the dead boy. She doesn’t wallow, she shows people in action, attempting to deal with the situation. She has some fun while she’s at it, showing up slantly, in drag, as the fabulous Crepe Suzette.

There is nothing precious here, just great storytelling, and, as one reader said, great integrity. Each character is given ample room to show his or her character, equally, without judgement. there is no finger pointing, though there is a high level of frustration with characters who seem to have missed the enormous gains in civil rights that has occurred in the past forty years… It’s a reminder that no matter how many gains gays, lesbians, or any “other” in our society might make, for a lot of people, stepping out of the narrow and safe closet of convention, is more difficult than ever.

Coach House | 280 pages | $20.95 | paper | ISBN #978-1552452417

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