LOOSE END by Ivan E. Coyote (Arsenal Pulp), 176 pages, $17.95 paper. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
I wouldn't mind being Ivan e. Coyote's neighbour. I think I'd make an interesting anecdote in the sparkling stories Coyote is famous for, mostly because in the latest collection the characters seem drawn from real life. Coyote deftly weaves her everyday encounters into hilarious colloquial narratives about life in East Vancouver. Loose End, the charismatic oral storyteller's third collection, showcases a more mature, humble and proficient narrative style. It stands on its own as text. Every story is brief (on average three pages), which makes sense when you realize they're based on columns that appeared in Xtra West.
Most of time this sets a good pace. But sometimes stories in which recurring themes overlap like the poignant descriptions of Coyote's cross-dressing nephew Francis, whom she welcomes into the world of shame-free gender-queer life might have worked better as one more developed and ambitious story.
A key theme of these plainspoken stories emerges when the strangers Coyote encounters realize (or don't realize) and care (or don't care) that Ivan is not a 16-year-old boy.
Coyote is one of the few transgendered storytellers among a healthy handful of gay men and lesbian-identified writers making a queer mark on Canadian literature.
After reading the opening story, I left the book on the coffee table. My butch girlfriend picked it up and read it cover to cover, laughing and crying at intervals. She said she'd never read a book she could relate to so intensely, the kind of reaction that makes Coyote unique in the world of Canadian short fiction writers.