IT’S APRIL AND the world is opening up like a hand with something secret in it. The world is all, Hey I’ve got something to show you, so you lean in and go, What? You go, Show me! And you look and the fingers peel back and then whammo there it is, green and muddy and fresh and dripping wet with rain.There is so little new fiction that strikes or thrills me (with Vancouver writer David Chariandy’s Soucouyant being a notable exception that I would highly recommend), stories that tingle with any kind of electric shock, that know properly how to end before the end, or end well into the middle to strike a blow harder than any physical blow that books such as Toronto writer Pasha Malla’s The Withdrawl Method (Toronto ON: Anansi, 2008) seems almost like a godsend. Where did Pasha Malla come from? A first collection of stories, it becomes obvious that, first and foremost, Malla is a writer of fiction. He authored a collection of poetry which came out the season following his fiction debut, All our Grandfathers are Ghosts (Montreal QC: Snare Books, 2008), which almost confirmed this assessment, in a collection of pieces caught somewhere between genres, working through a form that his writing doesn’t seem entirely comfortable in. In The Withdrawl Method, he is not only comfortable, but in complete control of his writing, his language, and in what doesn’t get told.
The world is melting but it’s almost all water anyway. The world is like 75 percent water. It’s a ball made of water and some mountains and other stuff, some trees and hills and deserts. Buildings and roads. People walk around on it and we’re like 75 percent water too. My dad Greg is 236 pounds which makes him 177 pounds of water, like a hundred thousand glasses of water, maybe more. He’s a bathtub full of water—bigger than a bathtub, a kiddie pool. Anyway, my dad Greg is a whole lot of water. And Mom is the moon. (“Pushing Oceans In And Pulling Oceans Out”)
I started thinking Mom was the moon when I was little. It was a secret from my dad Greg. I could talk to her and stuff, every night. I know it’s dumb now. But it’s like tradition and there’s nowhere else she can be. Sometimes you can see her and sometimes you can’t but every night all around the world Mom the moon is busy pushing oceans in and pulling oceans out. Tides. And all us people are basically water too and at night the moon pushes us into sleep. (“Pushing Oceans In And Pulling Oceans Out”)Do you need to know anything else? The book is worth it alone for the last story in the collection, “When Jacques Cousteau Gave Pablo Picasso a Piece of Black Coral.” Read this book.
[reviewed from uncorrected proofs]