Wednesday, February 08, 2012

February Book of the Month: Claire Tacon's In the Field

Claire Tacon's In the Field was the winner of the most recent Metcalf-Rooke Award (&, yes, for those of you who submitted to the current one, we're still wading through manuscripts: expect an announcement in the next  two weeks) and takes as one of its themes the idea that you can't go home again.  Ellie Lucan tries to do so, imagining she's escaping from career disappointment and a troublesome time in her marriage, but discovers when she returns home that many more problems and complications await, which challenge and change her views about many things, the most important one being herself.

As the inaugural Biblioasis Book of the Month pick, orders of In the Field through the Biblioasis website will receive a 30% discount from the $19.95 list price (that's $13.97).  You can find In the Field's page on the website here.  (Out of solidarity for the other Metcalf-Rooke books, we have also applied the same discount to previous winners.  These include Patricia Young's Airstream; Kathleen Winter's boYs; Rebecca Rosenblum's Once; Amy Jones's What Boys Like; and A. J. Somerset's Combat Camera. )

In an excellent interview in the latest issue of The New Quarterly new TNQ editor Pamela Mulloy speaks with Claire about her novel.  Here's a little taste:

CT: The Swiss Air plane crash comes up twice in the book: I think that's a good metaphor for Ellie's unravelling.  Planes don't usually go down unless there's a whole series of problems.  Pilots are trained to deal with almost anything -- engine failures, pressure drops, broken landing equipment, and combinations of problems.  Crashing a plane takes either a catastrophic event or a long chain of smaller problems.  

It's the same in life; we're able to deal with crises as long as they're staggered and not too severe.  It's when we get two or three things thrown our way in quick succession that we get overwhelmed.  No matter how happy you are in a given moment, with the right set of circumstances, you could be at a breaking point.  That's what happens for Ellie.  

In the end, she has to decide whether it's better to be a good daughter or a good mother.  For most of the novel, she's either avoided decisions or let others make them for her.  The book's ending is quiet, but it leaves her forced to choose for herself, to be an active participant in her own life.  

In addition to being a novelist, Claire is an accomplished short story writer, and three of her stories have also just appeared in the Oberon's Coming Attractions volume, selected by Mark Anthony Jarman.

Claire Tacon will be embarking over April-May on a near two dozen city tour which will take her through much of Ontario, to select cities on the prairies, and through to British Columbia.  Stay tuned for more details.  And stay tuned for more about Claire and her book over the course of February on Thirsty: perhaps we'll even convince her to take the reins for a post or two....

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