The fictional worlds that Emily Givner was intent on evoking are subtle, yet lucid, her characters often wrought with inherent contradictions, her narrators keen-eyed and pithy. In the title story of the collection, "A Heart In Port", a seemingly light hearted send up of heartbreak, a Canadian woman waits in vain for the return of her European lover, amid the comedic shards of those close to her. The narrator's caustic eye shifts between lives touched by illness and disappointment and the backdrop of life's sharp ironies. Irony is apparent as well in "In-Sook" when a visiting music professor adored by his Korean students finds himself in conversation with the glass eye of one. When the glass eye starts speaking to Professor Andresj, the voice leads him to certain infidelity with the one student who is capable of the encounter. This mode of the surreal also enlightens the Kafkaesque "The Resemblance Between a Violin Case and a Cockroach", a story which (quite apart from its quiet forewarning of Emily Givner's own death) is a juggling act of improbability, breakdown, sly rhetoric, fairytale and literary allusion, all sustained by the perceptions of a young girl, Clarissa. These stories are never quite what they present themselves as being.
In some - "Canadian Mint and Private Eye" - a small apparent flaw in the story's internal logic creates a puzzle and a hint and, to solve that puzzle, the reader is led back to the story again to read it with new eyes. There is often something otherworldly afoot - too organic to be merely surreal, too witty to strain credulity.
Always pealing the layers of intense relationships, Givner never lets questions of culture, race and politics escape her. In "Polonaise" the relationship between an older Polish musician and young Canadian Jewish woman is consummated under the cloud that anti-Semitism is alive and well in Poland.
|Publisher:||Thistledown Press, Limited|
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.60(d)|
About the Author
Music-lover, cello player, ESL teacher, and writer Emily Givner was born in Regina, Saskatchewan. She died July 5th , 2004 in Halifax, Nova Scotia, of an allergic reaction, aged 38. From birth Emily's life had been complicated and restricted by asthma and allergy problems though she refused to let her aliments interfere with her life of travel, music and writing. She was mentored by the acclaimed novelist and neuroradiologist, Aryeh Lev Stollman, whose work she loved.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Emily Givner, the gifted Canadian author of A Heart in Port, died in 2004 of an allergic reaction. She was but 38 years old at the time. The stories in this book reflect the themes of her life and speak of a generational experience that we shared. This collection of short stories left me wondering what might have been had she had more time to write. My favorite story in this collection is Canadian Mint. This story tells of two drug enhanced Generation X slackers who find themselves building a tall tower of pennies in an apartment out of boredom. They are so enamored with what they¿ve done that they decide to build penny towers on the street to make extra money. Although it never fit my personality to live like these characters, I can close my eyes and picture myself walking down the sidewalk finding any number of my college friends doing the exact same things, having the same types of arguments. Reading this short story was like listening to an old friend tell a familiar story. It puts me back to a place and time in my life like ¿Hey, Jealousy¿ by the Gin Blossoms or ¿Interstate Love Song¿ by the Stone Temple Pilots. I find it difficult to review short stories. I¿ve recently received some wonderful advice on how to read shorter fiction, but I don¿t feel as if I can really do them justice. Some of the writing was not as polished as others and this is perhaps a consequence of publishing some of the posthumously. She simply may not have been finished with them. Still, the book is held together by the common threads of music, allergies, and interactions with older men. A Heart in Port is an interesting collection and the cover art is very indicative of its mood. It will never be known what Emily Givner would have done with her talent, but Canada still has this diamond in the rough.