TALES OF TWO CITIES by George Fetherling (Subway), 175 pages, $20 paper. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
I'm always a little suspicious of novellas. They usually seem to be novels that ran out of steam or, conversely, badly structured novels that peak too soon. Though George Fetherling's novella Tales Of Two Cities falls into the first category, it winds up being weirdly satisfying.
The story is told in the first person by an unnamed literary agent who's been dumped by Faye in Toronto but has taken up with the always exciting and excitable Cynthia, who's based in Vancouver.
Not that the new love interest does anything for his self-esteem. He's constantly mystified by her sexuality which has taken a pornographic turn and amazed that a nerdy Jewish guy like him could connect with an outgoing Protestant publicist.
The story turns into a well-observed rumination on long-distance relationships, buttressed by well-wrought evocations of the myriad differences between Toronto and Vancouver. A medical emergency, however, leaves us hanging.
Fetherling, known for the dense prose of his meaty columns in the Vancouver Sun, manages to lighten up a bit here, and his portrayal of life in the literary scene is very tasty. He does, though, have an irritating tendency to let his narrator analyze his characters for us. Fetherling should just show us their behaviours and let us figure them out for ourselves.
The accompanying short stories, except for Romeo Music, which touches on the experience of assimilation, are minor entries.
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