“So I have always walked alleys alone, with my monster face, listening through a wall for the words that might cultivate me, that are contained within the homes of ex-lovers, the ones who caught a glimpse and ran away.”
In the neon-slick streets of Thea Bowering’s imagination, monster girls and femme flâneurs roam, anthropologist’s eyes on barroom denizens, disguising themselves in men’s clothing and embarking on doomed love affairs. Old World meets New World as the cafés and piazzas of Europe’s capitals intermingle with the dust and desolation of the 21st Century modern West.
Strikingly modern while also filled with fin de siècle regret, Thea Bowering’s first story collection is shot through with allusion and timeless themes given new life.
Praise for Love at Last Sight
"A remarkable voice, Bowering is a welcome addition to the Canadian literary scene."
~ Publishers Weekly
"Bowering is an inventive and original writer, unafraid to be playful and take unexpected turns."
~ Zoe Whittall, Quill and Quire
"Bowering’s literary turf is urban and gritty, with thoroughly modern and often angsty stories about young men and women."
~ Sarah Murdoch, Toronto Star
"This is essential Edmonton reading, right up there with the best we have to offer."
~ Tom Murray, Edmonton Journal
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
There's nothing soft about me. If you look around my room, it looks hard, like a man. A young man's room--monochromatic and all angles. It's misleading, therefore, that my roommate's taken to greeting me with "M'Lady" when he walks in the door. A joke. There's nothing M'Lady about me, but my roommate is studying the troubadours; they're the final requirement of his English degree. The truth is, my roommate is far more M'Lady than I am, or rather, he's like all the boys I know, who are like these men, crusaders-turned-poets, who all looked like women. Well, not women, but the thing called feminine. Not Fem. Feminine. And I hate this word; who uses it? It's right up there with saying "panties" instead of "underwear." It makes you think of things like scented tampons: pink plastic bullets sprinkled with "Meadow Rain" or "Eternal Spring." And even the women I think of as refined find this innovation fairly horrifying. I mean, who wants to bleed all over Eternal Spring? I know only one woman who has used these fragranced plugs: my friend Skip's grandmother. He says she bought everything in bulk her whole life, so for years after menopause she used tampons in her hair as curlers.
My roommate lets his hair grow long, into yellow ringlets, and collects things like candlestick holders and masks. He wears a light fabric vest with no shirt under it. I should mention that this is the early '90s, and that my roommate is an aspiring musician. If you recall, in the alternative music videos of the early '90s all the singers look like pirates trying to look like medieval poets. The only ones wearing skinny jeans are rockers and skaters. No one is marketing "your boyfriend's jeans" for girlfriends yet. The boys I sleep with wear my clothes; I wear theirs. It's that simple. I like sleeping with people my own shape and size. Before they leave in the morning they borrow my hairclips and elastics, my necklaces and shoulder bags. And they can push more silver hoops through their ears than I can. I'm still fairly young and think they're sensitive.
If there's any difference between us, it's not in our couture; it's in the way we live in rooms. The boys still do all the rewiring around the place, but while they're out playing their guitars to girls somewhere, I have stopped midway through the week's worth of dishes to become suddenly despondent by the lack of a translucent blue vase on the mantel, a blank space on the wall where a sparkly mirror should be. I have moved crappy furniture around and around apartments with women roommates all my roommate-ing life. We stand, eyes darting, fingers to our mouths, hoping thriftstore-shabby will pass for '70s SoHo.
So, it's the early '90s, and gender has just begun to get in trouble, and this "M'Lady" thing started about a week before I started telling you about it. "What are you studying?" I yell into the living room, from my bedroom, where I am arranging an alley-find into mid-century Danish modern. "Fine Armour!" the roommate yells back. I stop, and picture knightly medieval men prancing in breastplates etched with delicate flowers, like the ones on my grandmother's tea service. Maybe I heard right. I reach for a lexicon (there's no internet yet); it looks like "Fine armour" is mentioned a lot in The Iliad. When Achilles goes off to kill Hector, and has to fight his way through floodwaters, he witnesses the "goodly armour" of youths drifting about, alongside their corpses. Scamander can't handle Achilles' godlike arrogance, so he raises the floodwaters and yells that neither his good looks, nor his strength, nor his "fine armour" will save him now! Still, what does this have to do with the troubadours? I wonder. "What?" I yell again to the roommate. "Fin Amour!" he yells back. "Oh!"