THE CAUSES by Cathy Stonehouse

The Causes, fiction by Cathy Stonehouse (Pedlar Press, 2019)

Publication date 25 August 2019

ISBN 978-1-897141-95-3 || $22

Cathy Stonehouse writes fiction, poetry and nonfiction, and has published widely in each of these genres. Originally from the UK, she studied English at Oxford University, where she  became interested in experimental traditions in women’s poetry and fiction. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from UBC, and a Certificate in Expressive Arts Therapy from Langara College. Her publications include the poetry collections The Words I Know (Press Gang) and grace shiver (Inanna Publications), and the short fiction collection Something about the Animal (Biblioasis).

This complex and unsettling debut novel follows the young Argentine conscript José Ramirez from his torture on the bleak plains of the Falklands, back into his childhood in pre-revolution Argentina, and forward across continents as he grapples with the loss of his father and his country as he knew it. Carlos Ramirez is taken by force from his apartment, leaving behind only a pair of broken glasses. His son, José, is left with unanswerable questions that become threatening after he is sent to the Malvinas to fight an impossible war. Mysterious, gripping, poetic and magic-realist, The Causes is a love story for a threatened planet, set in Argentina, Spain, the UK, and the South Atlantic.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Praise for Cathy Stonehouse’s THE CAUSES (Pedlar 2019):

 

“I finished this book a few days ago and have been carrying around its powerful story in my heart and head ever since. The author has captured something tremendous here that will resonate with anyone who wants to put on another’s skin and experience their struggles and triumphs close-up.

While I was familiar with the Falklands/Malvinas conflict, I had never read anything like this narrator’s perspective. He is a young Argentinian man, and the author viscerally recreates his wartime experiences, along with his ensuing struggle after returning to a country that blames (and shames) its soldiers for losing.

Internal and external demons combine to drive him through a series of challenges that the author artfully blends with hints of magic realism. What is real? Who’s to say? Along the way the story illuminates a conflict that few people talk about, along with the toll it took on those involved.
The prose is stunning and the story is heartbreaking and powerful. This is a must-read for anyone interested in British or South American history, wartime experiences, PTSD, along with anyone who loves deep and thought-provoking stories told in the finest literary prose. —Shannon Cowan




STARRED REVIEW Quill & Quire The Lady From Kent, Barbara Nichol, illustrated by Bill Pechet

The spirits of Lear and Belloc are channelled in Barbara Nichol’s arousingly illogical book of light verse, The Lady from Kent, about, well, a lady who says she’s from Kent. But as we quickly learn the Lady says a lot of things, few of which relate to a recognizable reality. They sure are entertaining, though.

The book is divided into sections, told to an unseen narrator, that function as a kind of absurdist resumé In Early Years, we meet the Lady’s pet raccoon. When the Lady was a child, she instructed the animal to play the violin (and spoons), earning the animal’s lifelong loyalty. Some Worthy Acts catalogues the Lady’s generosity: in addition to running a charm school for bats, she taught autumn leaves to fall and giants to be small.

Oddities and Accomplishments (which could describe the whole book) boasts of how the Lady does the daily crossword never looking at the clues and bakes chocolate cake without ingredients. Her claim of having invented the bathing cap and rake, however, provokes skepticism on the part of the narrator (the rake, after all, is eons old). This causes the Lady to become peevish, her tone very cold: Her answer came so quickly / That it might have been rehearsed: / I said I had invented it, / Not that I was first!

A Business Venture describes how the Lady once befriended a vast swarm of killer bees that she trained to perform circus acts disguised as fleas, all while remaining mindful of the capitalist imperative: She taught them to walk tightropes, / And bring tigers to submission, / And many other wondrous feats, / For which she charged admission.

This is the ninth children’s book by the multi-talented Nichol (who also created the beloved recording Beethoven Lives Upstairs) and the fourth by illustrator Bill Pechet. An architect and designer by trade, Pechet once represented Canada at the Venice Biennale with the world’s largest polar-fleece garment, giving him exactly the right credentials for this project.

The Lady from Kent is so musical and clever it comes as a surprise when the rhymes occasionally mash their gears. But think of that as praising with faint damnation: page after page, Nichol shores up surface whimsy with blazing originality and intelligence.

ODERIN, poetry by Agnes Walsh

A collection by Newfoundland poet Agnes Walsh, her first since the release of GOING AROUND WITH BACHELORS (2007). Born and raised in Placentia, NL, Walsh studied folklore in Georgia (USA), before returning home and taking to writing works founded in her love of her ancestral place. ODERIN is an homage to Walsh’s mother, who liked to sign her letters, Love from your loving mother, Mother.