ClosetTown

A review of James K. Moran’s Town & Train (Lethe Press, 2014)
By Derek Newman-Stille

Cover photo of Town & Train courtesy of James K. Moran

Cover photo of Town & Train courtesy of James K. Moran

Small towns hold secrets. Because people in small towns tend to have the potential to know everything about their neighbours, secrecy is a big issue in small town life and people in small towns guard their secrets carefully. Small towns are often places of conformity, where being in any way outside the ‘normal’ is seen as a threat, a danger, and a challenge to the status quo.

James K. Moran’s Town & Train explores the rising tide of secrets in small towns and the notion that dirty laundry always eventually gets aired. Town & Train is shaped by an aesthetic of longing, a compounding of desires: the desire to leave the small town of Brandon, Ontario, for better opportunities, the desire for a sense of contact with others, a connection, the desire to keep secrets about the types of connections one is making, the desire to just change something, and the competing desire to just keep things the same and resist changes seen to be dangerous.

Moran brings a train into this small town, a train that offers the promise of new horizons, new changes, and all of the various escapes that one could desire. The conductor of the train offers tickets to dreams, but the only problem is that these dreams too easily become nightmares. Trains represent connections, the linkages between communities across the country, but this train resists connections, much like the small town of Brandon. It comes up from the subconscious to haunt the community with its darkest secrets, all that is suppressed and hidden.

Moran unites the fear of discovery with LGBTQ2 populations in Brandon, those who are at threat of losing their jobs, their friends, their family, and all of their connections if they end up coming out of the closet and acknowledging their desire. Through the train, Moran creates a parallel uniting fear and desire, which shape queer lives in small towns.

To discover more about the work of James K. Moran, visit http://jameskmoran.blogspot.ca/

I Dream of Djinn

A review of Eileen Bell’s “Angela and Her Three Wishes” in The Puzzle Box (Edge, 2013)

Cover Photo of The Puzzle Box courtesy of Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing

Cover Photo of The Puzzle Box courtesy of Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing

By Derek Newman-Stille

The Puzzle Box overall is a collection of stories about the hidden within, and Eileen Bell creatively employs the notion of the puzzle box as a genie’s lamp, holding within it the power to grant wishes.

Wishes open paths to our secret desires, open doorways to our wants, and ultimately ourselves. When Angela encounters a genie from within the puzzle box, she confronts notions of her selfhood, her identity. She discovers secrets about her origins and deconstructs the lies that have been told to her “for her protection”. The walls that have been placed around her by the lies that have been told are opened, torn down, but the revelations within may be even more painful.

When genies bring truth instead of wishes, the whole foundation of our ideas of ourselves may be opened up.

To find out more about The Puzzle Box, visit Edge’s website at http://www.edgewebsite.com/books/puzzlebox/pzbox-catalog.html .

To read more about Eileen Bell, visit her website at http://www.eileenbell.com/ .