13 Cautionary Tales by Nichole McGill (Gutter Press), 150 pages, $15.95 cloth. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
the 13 raw, visceral stories in Nichole McGill's first collection will not help you sleep at night. Her haunted, obsessive, seemingly hopeless narrators -- 12 girls and a guy -- will not assuage your fears about humanity. What they will do is prove that the ugliness and brutality you witness every day make for good fiction.
The protagonist of Love And Hate, welterweight kick-boxer Maddie, learns how to decimate her opponent by surrendering to the desire to attack the people closest to her.
In I See You, slacker Clive rides Toronto's public transit every day, spying on unsuspecting fellow travellers with a palm-held video camera.
When his boss, an older woman he assumes is a voyeur, invites him to watch the movie she's made from his footage, he discovers that he's revealed a lot more about his own secret fantasies than about any of the subjects he stalked.
In Netsnuff.com, teenagers who play a death-inspired video game where they can kill each other over the Internet discover snuff photos of a friend who then goes missing.
McGill is no poseur. She understands what makes her contemporary characters tick. She also avoids generalizations, and focuses on individual motivations for sin, crime and violence in order to evoke greater truths about the mundane nature of evil.
The 13 tales speak of women who fight for control over their worst fears in order to live defiantly and mightily, despite the ugliness of life.
Well worth the sixteen bucks.