Short stories, bad seed
Pat St. Germain recommends a pair of titles.
Coconut Dreams Derek Mascarenhas Book*hug Press
An epic work in short-story form, Derek Mascarenhas’ Coconut Dreams transcends space, time and culture in 10 interconnected tales revolving around two generations of the fictional Pinto family. The book opens with a fable-like story recounting the birth of Felix Pinto and a hair-raising adventure that pits him and his childhood friend, Clara, against a trio of adult villains in Goa, India.
Flash forward 48 years, and we meet Felix and Clara’s children, son Aiden and daughter Ally, as they experience the universal joys and terrors of a suburban childhood a world away, in Canada.
Along with field trips and first kisses, subtle racism creeps in, with one threat that ends in violence. They grow up with stories about family legends, but when Aiden travels to Goa, it’s as a foreigner, a coconut — brown on the outside, white on the inside.
Mascarenhas imbues his stories with human connection, whether through chance encounters, brief friendships or unbreakable family bonds.
The Golden Boy of Crime: The Almost Certainly True Story of Norman “Red” Ryan Jim Brown HarperCollins Canada
Norman (Red) Ryan was a bad seed. Born into a large working-class family in Toronto, he was prone to violence and thievery at an early age. A string of violent robberies and a prison break in the 1920s and ’30s earned him a nickname, “the Jesse James of Canada.” But it was his talent for deception that ultimately brought him the greatest infamy. Sentenced to a life term in the Kingston Penitentiary, he befriended a prison priest, renounced his wicked ways and became a poster boy for rehabilitation.
Championed by the press, along with politicians and even some members of the police force, he won early parole and led the life of Riley on the outside, all the while carrying on a secret sideline as a murderous bank robber.
Calgary-based Jim Brown explores the culture of celebrity that let him, almost, get away with it.