Karen Smythe is the author of Stubborn Bones, a collection of short fiction (Polestar/Raincoast Books, 2001). Smythe’s stories have appeared in several literary publications including Grain, Fiddlehead, Antigonish Review, Gaspereau Review, and Water Studies: New Voices in Maritime Fiction. While living in Halifax, she guest-edited the Michael Ondaatje issue of Essays on Canadian Writing and served as the fiction editor of the Pottersfield Portfolio. This Side of Sad is her first novel.
This Side of Sad (summary):
Part mystery, part elegy, This Side of Sad begins with an ending: the violent enigma of a man’s death. Was it an accident or did James commit suicide? In the shattering aftermath, his widow, Maslen, questions her own capacity for love and undertakes a painful self-inquiry, examining the history of her heart and tracing the fault lines of her own fragile identity. What emerges is a mesmerizing tour of a woman’s complex past, rendered in the associative logic of memory and desire.
A gifted storyteller reminiscent of Alice Munro or Joan Didion, Karen Smythe finds poetic complexity in the seeming trivialities of the ordinary. Meditative, philosophical, and confessional, This Side of Sad is a provocative and piercing novel that explores the disintegration of a marriage; the enduring colloquy between the living and the dead; and the meaning we find within the random architecture of despair and joy.