So Beautiful

So Beautiful

by Ramona Dearing
     
 

Like Michael Winter, Lisa Moore, Libby Creelman, Jessica Grant and Claire Wilkshire, Ramona Dearing is a member of St. John's now-legendary fiction collective, Burning Rock. While it would be misleading to claim that these writers constitute a movement -- Dearing's writing is less impressionistic than Moore's, less autobiographical than Winter's, and many of

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Overview

Like Michael Winter, Lisa Moore, Libby Creelman, Jessica Grant and Claire Wilkshire, Ramona Dearing is a member of St. John's now-legendary fiction collective, Burning Rock. While it would be misleading to claim that these writers constitute a movement -- Dearing's writing is less impressionistic than Moore's, less autobiographical than Winter's, and many of her stories take place far from St. John's -- they are all remarkably talented writers whose stories are full of vitality. Readers who enjoy one Burning Rock book tend to love them all.

There's a peculiar itch for justice in this debut collection. In the opening story, Lyle Margoulis is prompted to resume the search for his missing grandson after finding a body in a ravine. A young woman who likes to punch people on the nose learns the man she admires spends time with her only because they live in isolated Labrador. A Christian Brother on trial for sex abuse at Mount Cashel Orphanage begins to accept his guilt once he understands the jury is going to send him to prison. These stories are alive with fear, humour, contradiction.

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Editorial Reviews

Northeast Avalon Times

'The text as physical object doesn't usually make or break a book, but it helps when a little thought has been given to the form the work takes. So Beautiful has a weird, splashy, eye-catching blown tulip on the cover that will surely coax some people to pick it up. The cover is soft, but the binding is sewn and there are lovely, embossed green endpapers. ... I was recently taken to task for commenting on the writers who gave cover endorsements to a recent collection of stories. I'll compound the crime here by saying that the only bad writing in the book is Michael Winter's totally nonsensical blurb on the back cover. So Beautiful is a very lively, varied and interesting collection, but to call it "busted talent travelling crossed paths that might lead us to God" is just downright silly. ... Ignore the endorsements -- buy the book because it's a good read.'

— Robin McGrath

Canadian Notes & Queries

'Love: the title of Ramona Dearing's "Love Bites & Little Spanks" aptly captures the punchy quality of a narrative in which ambivalence carries off a marriage. The narrator's husband, Lenny, is having an affair with her cousin Gracie. The narrator pictures the adulterous couple stormbound in Billy's Cove, "The bar in the middle of the bed making them arch like dolphins, the TV on, the smell of burning teeth." "Love Bites" creates a sense of emotional directness, which goes well with Dearing's gift for understatement and sudden images.'

— Claire Wilkshire

Malahat Review

'What is so beautiful about Ramona Dearing's debut collection of short fiction? The writing itself is beautiful; her words crackle with energy. She has the sensibility of a poet and provides surprise through language, paints images vividly, and does not settle for easy descriptions. The structure of each piece is beautiful too. Dearing knows that plot matters and these stories drive forward like Newfoundland rain in November.'

— Jay Ruzesky

Front and Centre

'So Beautiful is Ramona Dearing's first book. She joins fellow Newfoundlanders Wayne Johnston, Michael Crummey, Michael Winter and Lisa Moore as one of the country's best young(ish) writers. Central, Western, and Northern Canadians should stop thinking about Newfoundland as the periphery. It is the centre.'

— Harold Hoefle

Natalee Caple

'Ramona Dearing's So Beautiful is a terrific collection of stories about the people you get stuck with in life. Roommates, siblings, drinking buddies, all the ones you think you would never choose, but who become central to the way you function in the world and even to the way that you evaluate your own worth.'

Naomi Brun

'Ramona Dearing is a Newfoundland-based writer and member of the Burning Rock literary collective. Although she has published in several literary magazines, So Beautiful is her first short-story collection. By and large, Dearing's characters are ordinary people in bleak, but realistic, circumstances. In one story, Lucy is in love with Mitch, who, in turn, fosters the crush out of boredom and loneliness. In another, a graduate student learns to deal with an emotionally needy roommate who just might be dipping her toothbrush in the toilet for fun. Darlene, in a third tale, comes home from school to discover that her parents have put the family dogs to sleep. The characters are all regular folk, if a little hard, and their situations are commonplace, if disagreeable. Dearing's gift, then, lies not so much in the tales as in the telling. Her characters are heartbreakingly aware, and Dearing's curt prose is more evocative of their deep emotions than any florid writing style would be. Dearing, in fact, is a literary minimalist in a similar manner to Alice Munro; those who enjoy Munro will be delighted to read works by this new author. Perhaps influenced by the geography of her home province, Dearing has created a collection that is stunning in its fierce austerity. In other words, it lives up to its name.'

Peter Darbyshire

'Dearing's greatest strength is her understated style. Entire lives lie under the surface of her sentences, and characters convey more in what they don't say than in what they do. Dearing also shows a startling versatility for a new writer, with her stories covering various territories, not only of Canadian geography, but also of social class, emotion, and, most of all, identity. Equally as impressive, Dearing refuses to provide easy answers for her characters' problems. There are no feel-good endings here, no morally correct resolutions to complicated situations. Instead, there are believable human tales. So Beautiful isn't a book that lays out what people should be -- it's a book that sums up what they are, and what they can never be.'

From the Publisher

'So Beautiful, a first book from Newfoundland writer Ramona Dearing, is a perfect example of why short stories matter, and why more people should read them. This collection of thirteen is funny, edgy, completely absorbing, impressive in its variety of subjects and characters. Dearing has the knack of grabbing your attention from the first sentence and never letting go.'

Globe and Mail

'Ramona Dearing's So Beautiful is a terrific collection of stories about the people you get stuck with in life. Roommates, siblings, drinking buddies, all the ones you think you would never choose, but who become central to the way you function in the world and even to the way that you evaluate your own worth.'

— Natalee Caple

Canadian Book Review Annual

'Ramona Dearing is a Newfoundland-based writer and member of the Burning Rock literary collective. Although she has published in several literary magazines, So Beautiful is her first short-story collection. By and large, Dearing's characters are ordinary people in bleak, but realistic, circumstances. In one story, Lucy is in love with Mitch, who, in turn, fosters the crush out of boredom and loneliness. In another, a graduate student learns to deal with an emotionally needy roommate who just might be dipping her toothbrush in the toilet for fun. Darlene, in a third tale, comes home from school to discover that her parents have put the family dogs to sleep. The characters are all regular folk, if a little hard, and their situations are commonplace, if disagreeable. Dearing's gift, then, lies not so much in the tales as in the telling. Her characters are heartbreakingly aware, and Dearing's curt prose is more evocative of their deep emotions than any florid writing style would be. Dearing, in fact, is a literary minimalist in a similar manner to Alice Munro; those who enjoy Munro will be delighted to read works by this new author. Perhaps influenced by the geography of her home province, Dearing has created a collection that is stunning in its fierce austerity. In other words, it lives up to its name.'

— Naomi Brun

Prairie Fire

'So Beautiful, a first book from Newfoundland writer Ramona Dearing, is a perfect example of why short stories matter, and why more people should read them. This collection of thirteen is funny, edgy, completely absorbing, impressive in its variety of subjects and characters. Dearing has the knack of grabbing your attention from the first sentence and never letting go.'

Quill & Quire

'Often what Dearing writes about here is the inability or unwillingness to trust -- a word synonymous, perhaps, with love. Many of her characters, struggling with habits of denial and self-delusion, are not particularly trustworthy or lovable. Yet she renders them in ways that are always charged and sometimes surprising. And occasionally, miraculously, trust and truth meet.'

— Maureen Garvie

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780889842359
Publisher:
Porcupine's Quill, Incorporated
Publication date:
03/28/2004
Pages:
168
Product dimensions:
5.59(w) x 8.74(h) x 0.52(d)

What People are saying about this

Lisa Moore

'These stories are like blood from a fresh cut -- shockingly bright, quick, alive. Sharp sensation, and tenderness. Full of humor, hurt and bald honesty. Dearing's writing makes us feel, deeply.'

Michael Winter

'So Beautiful is full of amazing, weird, busted talent travelling crossed paths that might lead us to God. Here's a writer that smashes the sentimental and leaves us with a mysterious zip of longing, a zip that smelts the iron out of the ironic, an iron that buckles my heart. If pets could read, they would read Ramona Dearing's stories.'

Wayne Johnston

'Ramona Dearing writes in a marvellously understated but powerful fashion about the lives of everyday people. There are, in her fiction, no easy, facile endings, no "issues" that come before character. Her stories are at times funny, at times sad in the most wonderfully redemptive way. This is one of the best fiction debuts I've read in quite some time.'

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