The stories in Fansworth’s The Things She’ll Be Leaving Behind vary in length, intensity and impact. The short pieces that fluctuate between flash fiction and apologue span just a few hundred words, but in doing so they not only fulfill the basic requirements of a story, they also hint at worlds and ideas that readers can step into and explore with their own imaginations. In “The Blue Button” two office workers deconstruct their office reality and search for “what’s what” as their co-workers search for a missing blue button. In “The Neat Thing about Rainfall,” Kara’s understanding of God, the devil and her own purpose are blurred in a simplistic search for measureless meaning in childlike simplicity. In contrast, the story “Saturday Night in a Mining Town” exposes a couple of bold women who engage in a brief ribald dialogue of how they should pick up a guy they have spotted, and while doing so, reveal much about themselves and their past friendship. But it is in the longer stories in the collection where we stray into the deep and dark territories of women’s suffering, guilt, and survival. In these tales, anxiety, restlessness and volatility are tapped like raw nerves, and the dangers and menace of events only mitigated by Farnsworth’s savvy use of black comedy and irony. In the title story, with a hallucinated clown as her one true companion, Brenda grapples with the impact that painkillers are having on her physical well-being, her mental state, and the very real needs of her teenaged son. In “The Quake” a woman is held captive for reasons that are never explained, and as she struggles with grief, loneliness, and a faltering sense of reality as she becomes obsessed with the insights of a mysterious light. The story “A Joke Told by Pilots” introduces the reader to Bob whose illicit activities and outrageous lies force Kate to take desperate measures in an effort to control him, the situation, and ultimately her destiny. Other stories like “Evolution” and “Ten Reasons I Won’t Be Going to Heaven” reveal vulnerable women caught in deviant marriages and explore their unique escape mechanisms, while stories like “The Beaver” and “The Shrug” abstract the realities of the women protagonists as they contest cursed friendships and mortality. Farnsworth is a new energetic voice and, through The Things She’ll Be Leaving Behind, takes her place in the thriving list of Canadian short fiction writers.
The Things She’ll Be Leaving Behind
ISBN: 9781771871587 Categories: Fiction, Short Stories (single author), Women
About the Author
Vanessa Farnsworth is a freelance writer and long-time resident of the BC Interior. Her short fiction has appeared in literary journals across Canada and in the US, including The Dalhousie Review, dANDelion, filling Station, The New Quarterly, PRECIPICe, QWERTY, and Reed Magazine. Her memoir, Rain on a Distant Roof: A Personal Journey Through Lyme Disease in Canada (Signature Editions), was widely acclaimed when it was published in 2013.