February 27, 2007 at 4:47 pm #212
Anvil Press’s Introduction
Sexy, funny, sad, and sweet – sugar bush and other stories are frank tales of sex, love, and longing. These girls and young women navigate their lives in questionable ways, making some ill-advised choices in their quests for individuality. Whether waiting tables in a factory town, skipping school to make out in the cemetery, or wandering alone on rural side-roads, the characters in this collection share an appetite for destruction and an almost pathological need for acceptance and approval. Part breathless teenaged confessional, part wistful looks back, “sugar bush” is a potent cocktail of desires thwarted and fulfilled.
Praise for sugar bush:
“Jenn Farrell smashes neat ideas – of childhood and adulthood, love and lust, home and away – to find their more interesting edges. Her stories are bright, sharp shards, winking and glittering and drawing blood.”
– Annabel Lyn, author of The Best Thing for You and Oxygen
“Like blues songs pushed through a metal screen, Jenn Farrell’s stories distill and reveal the sad humanity of her characters. You’ll be glad you’ve read these tales, and relieve that you’re not living them. sugar bush will tear your heart out – but not the easy way.”
– Calvin Wharton, author of Three songs by Hank Williams.March 5, 2007 at 7:47 pm #282
Paula will review this book.March 20, 2007 at 6:40 pm #283
Sugar Bush & Other Stories
By Jenn Farrell
Review by Paula
In her book Sugar Bush & Other Stories, Vancouver author and editor, Jenn Farrell has an amazing gift in capturing the essence of the trials and tribulations as girls and young women attempt to enter ‘the society of adults’. The book comprises twelve stories with Sugar Bush, one of the main stories. Each story is unique and powerful and you live the life of the girl the story revolves around…and then the story ends so quickly – and you really want to know more.
The author portrays each character so well, that they literally come to life. Each story tells of the life of a young girl moving from puberty to a young woman or a young woman trying to maintain her own independence in today’s society. It deals with the hard facts of many social issues young people deal with. Many make unwise decisions, whether as a twelve year old, or an eighteen year old, with sex, lust, drugs and abuse forming part of their experiences. In many ways some of the stories are sad for you wish a better start in life for them. But each story reflects many truths of today’s society, even though at times we want to turn a blind eye to it.
Farrell obviously has her ear to the ‘pulse of our youth’ with dialogue, feelings and settings. Take a moment to savour the short story, Dish Pig. This is the only story that headlines a young man as the main character. He is a dishwasher in a little bar joint, his first job, and he fantasies about ‘eighteen year old Amber, a regular visitor to the bar’. As he says, “The one really good thing about this job is Amber – it’s part of the reason I applied here in the first place.” You can literally feel the emotions pouring forth from him as he describes his feelings. Great story.
Sugar Bush is marvelous. This story is told in the form of a ‘diary’ but with a unique approach.
The last story in the book is Maternity Benefits. Alice is in late pregnancy and needs a job to get a few more paychecks to help pay the bills. Jason her boyfriend was laid-off and is on unemployment insurance and is working on building a grow-op behind their laundry room. So Alice goes job hunting with only a few weeks left in her pregnancy. The author has a great line in the story as Alice prepares to dress for an interview. “She had worn her longest, loosest hippie dress to hide how big she was, and then, right before she left, she put on a pair of old control-top pantyhose to try and mash the baby down.” Alice sets out on an interview, and the story unfolds. It has a twist to the end, and leaves you wondering really what happened.
You see the hard side of life in each of these stories. Some of the women will make it in life but some you wonder about. And it also bears asking the question, “Where are the parents and family for support”. And that in itself answers some questions as you read through the pages.
Sugar Bush & Other Stories, a pint size book (much smaller than the usual sized novel of today) but is packed with power it its writing. I look forward to reading a full length novel from Jenn Farrell at some point.
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