Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Blood Secrets: Launching Tomorrow!

Nadine McInnis's Blood Secrets,
launching tomorrow at
Collected Works in

Afternoon, all. Tomorrow we're proud to kick off the first of our BiblioBash events in Ottawa, with the launch of Nadine McInnis's sometimes-sanguine and oft-enigmatic Blood Secrets (pictured right). This was a book where we had a devil of a time with the cover; we tried a half-dozen concepts before striking on the hospital curtains you see here. It's in our hot little hands as of this afternoon. And we can't wait to celebrate!
Nadine’s first collection of short fiction, Quicksilver, was published by Raincoast in 2002, and lauded as “a promising start” by Publishers Weekly, was called "exquisite" by Ann-Marie MacDonald, and praised for its “poet’s sensibility” by Quill & Quire. (Nadine's won CBC Literary Awards and had Ottawa Book Award nods for her verse). Q&Q also put it adroitly when they observed that “her recurring themes are hauntingly conveyed without lapsing into excessive grimness.” 
With Blood Secrets, her sophomore collection, Nadine puts that promise, sensibility, and knack for haunting themes to the test. In the hands of a lesser writer these tales of final moments—of relationships dying, of terminal care facilities, of recollected suicides, of car accident fallout, of cancer and alcoholism and disability—would be grim, disheartening, downright morbid. Nadine, however, like Colm Toibin in Mothers and Sons, teases out these difficulties with a a simple and balanced hand. 
As the title implies, Blood Secrets contains stories of kinship, bloodlines, and family. Some are linked, some not. In its own way, however, each story becomes an autopsy: a dissection of final moments and an analysis of what transpires beneath the surface of our bodies and of our daily lives. In “The Story of Time,” a mother is walking in a natural history museum with her extramarital lover, and the narrator observes: 
they didn’t go near the floor that had been Ruth’s favourite when she was younger, the room tucked away on the top floor where the living were housed among the dead. In large aquariums, banana slugs left their slow trails of slime across broad green leaves. Ruth would dash from that aquarium to the next one, putting her small hands against the glass that contained a filthy kitchen sink where cockroaches furtively dashed from rusted tin can to the underside of a crusted plate. These reminders of what could live beneath the surface of the world she recognized interested her far more than dinosaur bones.
Ruth’s mother, however, lacks her daughter’s zeal for the hidden, and that willful blindness to subtext causes tremendous difficulty both within her marriage and outside it.
So it is with many of Nadine’s characters: whether their mysteries lie in the past, the body, or the mind, the characters of Blood Secrets are asked to probe deeper into the underlying causes of death and change. It’s a startling collection of interest to anyone with an interest in family dynamics or palliative care. 
We hope you'll come join us for Nadine's launch, which doubles as the kickoff of our Fall BiblioBash Tour, tomorrow at Collected Works (1242 Wellington St. West, Ottawa). 

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