What Lay Beneath Modernity?

A Review of Kate Heartfield’s Their Dead So Near, Lackington’s issue one, Winter, 2014 (http://lackingtons.com/2014/02/13/their-dead-so-near-by-kate-heartfield/)
By Derek Newman-Stille

We are distant from our dead. In urban centres, we build over the dead, erasing the history of what came before us in our construction of the new. Kate Heartfield’s Their Dead So Near takes us into Ottawa’s Macdonald Gardens, called by those in the know, those who are fascinated by the macabre as the Boneyards and gives voice to the dead, buried over by a society that seeks to cover things over, hide them, bury them, and scrub them clean.

Heartfield reminds readers that we are always walking on the bones of the dead, supported by their detritus while we tread over history. Graveyards are places of discomfort for us – reminders of our own mortality – so we seek to render memory and place more “hygienic” by erasing the miasmic reminders of our own doom. We seek to forget names, forget history while giving token reminders in the form of small plaques that speak of a place we no longer want to recall.

Heartfield speaks for the dead, giving them voice in her short story Their Dead So Near, bringing readers close to those remnants of the past poking up into modernity, demanding to be heard, asking us to scrape the surface of urban reality to see what rests beneath the surface.

To read Their Dead So Near, visit Lackington’s website at http://lackingtons.com/2014/02/13/their-dead-so-near-by-kate-heartfield/ .

Artwork for Kate Heartfield's Their Dead So Near in Lackington's issue 1 by Luke Spooner

Artwork for Kate Heartfield’s Their Dead So Near in Lackington’s issue 1 by Luke Spooner

To explore more of Kate Heartfield’s work, visit her website at http://heartfieldfiction.wordpress.com/ .

Travel Guide to Fairy

A Review of O.R. Melling’s The Hunter’s Moon (In The Chronicles of Faerie, Penguin Canada, 2000)

Cover photo for the Chronicles of Faerie courtesy of http://ormelling.com/Book%20Pages/bookscanada.html

Cover photo for the Chronicles of Faerie courtesy of http://ormelling.com/Book%20Pages/bookscanada.html

By Derek Newman-Stille

O.R. Melling’s The Hunter’s Moon explores the idea of place and landscape saturated with the mythic and the historical, the overlapping realms of reality that are facilitated by time and story-telling. Two cousins – Findabhair and Gwen – linked by family, by name, and by a mutual desire to explore the mythic are brought together when Gwen visits her cousin Findabhair in Ireland. Both girls use myth and legend as a guidebook for their exploration of Ireland… and, in a sense, for their travel through two overlapping Irelands – one modern, and one a timeless, secret place.

After sleeping on a fairy mound to try to witness the magical, Findabhair is kidnapped by the fey and Gwen is set on a mythic quest to find her cousin while experiencing the intersection of the ordinary world and the extraordinary world that lay within it. The fairies they encounter are simultaneously interacting with the modern (and doing things like driving cars) while at odd with the modern and feeling out of place.

The fairies are not the only ones out of place. This is novel about the diverse ways that people can find ideas of belonging. The reality of modern Ireland interferes with Gwen’s romantic and fanciful notions of Ireland, and she comes to terms with the idea that Ireland can be fanciful and real at the same time, that it is impossible to separate the magical from the mundane world. Nothing is as it seems and everything is open to question and suffused with an element of surprise.

This is an empowering narrative of girls on adventure, finding themselves in fantasy and flights of imagination as they battle stereotypes and discover inner strengths that they didn’t realise they were suppressing.

To find out more about O.R. Melling, you can visit her website at http://ormelling.com/ and you can find out more about The Chronicles of Faerie at http://ormelling.com/Book%20Pages/Book%20Details%20Pages/chroniclesoffaer.html .