Making Light of Tragedy: Jessica Grant Is The Real Deal

I did not hate this book.


I know, I didn't hate The Hunger Games, but really reading that book was like being dropped into a vat of chocolate. You swim in that shit, and you enjoy it, because you are swimming in a delicious, irresistible world of chocolate.

Making Light of Tragedy is not just a testament to the capabilities of MS Paint (see: the cover), but a blinding portfolio of a young writer with considerable powers. To read this collection of short stories is to know that Jessica Grant has a natural talent for the written word, and a very distinctive voice (not to mention a biting sense of humour).

The collection is incredibly varied. You get a two page story about a second cousin lost and gained (Deep In My Heart), you get a ridiculous story about a batty woman filling out an application at Holt Renfrew (sample sentence: "The first time I heard my mother use the word 'fuck,' it was in the same sentence as the word 'Santa.'"/Della Renfrew), and a rather touching story about a literary prize juror who falls for the ugly but wonderful author whose book he lauded, but didn't actually read (Ugly And).

I read this for The Vicious Circle book club and most of us agreed that the book needed a good haircut–it read more as a retrospective of Grant's early work, and not a cohesive collection.

That aside, you must all read this book. Read it. It's occasionally twee, and insensitive, and ridiculous, but also very keen and it feels as original as a book can. I had huge, raging belly laughs while reading this, something I only experience rarely (see Corked, or Atmospheric Disturbances). Then you get stories like The Anxiety Exhibit that underscore Grant's acute understanding of the way lives collide and fall away from each other. This occasional gravity, balanced with her acerbic humour, produces a tone that veers away from being trite, or confessional, two things that young writers can fall into, and sounds like something very much her own.

Making Light of Tragedy/ Jessica Grant / Porcupine's Quill / PB, 2004.


steph said...

Great review, Bronwyn. I'm really glad you liked it. I wish the cover was nicer, that they would redesign it.

Off to order it this instant. Thank you!

Kerry said...

Hee. I love this: Making Light of Tragedy is not just a testament to the capabilities of MS Paint

B.Kienapple said...

Steph: So glad I convinced you! Can't wait to hear what you think.
Kerry: *grins*

Cozy in Texas said...

Thanks for the review.

steph said...

My copy arrived today at work! I really look forward to it...Thanks again!

John Mutford said...

I'm not a fan of Grant's. In fact, I'm becoming a little tired of the quirky female protagonists that seem to be taking over the Canadian lit scene. (I'm basing this on past Grant works, I haven't read this one.)

B.Kienapple said...

I've heard her short stories are different from Come Thou Tortoise. I liked it. Not the quirky thing at all.


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