A Hard Witching and Other Stories

by Jacqueline Baker

Book review

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  • A Hard Witching and Other Stories
Jacqueline Baker's ostensible subjects in A Hard Witching, herfirst short story collection, are the beaten and colourless human types thatinhabit rural Saskatchewan, but the true central characters in these stories arethe Sand Hills, the remarkable dunes in the province's southwest corner. Thedunes are home to distinctive flora and fauna as well as many dinosaur fossils.Not only are they invisible except at close quarters, they move imperceptiblyeach year.

All eight of the stories in this collection deal with the ambivalentrelationship of settler society to its environment. Sometimes there's a hint ofnostalgia for a simpler rural life, but it quickly dissipates. And always theSand Hills are there, pointing to a desert that's not only physical, it'semotional, and either unbearably hot or impossibly cold. The bleak ambiance ofloveless marriages and failed adolescent sexuality subtly link to a location inwhich the characters are unwelcome or, at best, irrelevant. Nowhere is thisshown more clearly than in the first story, "Cherry"; it describes, from achild's perspective, eccentric Uncle Aloetius, who torments his niece and nephewwith trips to "the hoodoo-like hills" looking for "vossles." But their uncle'ssinister allure, compounded by tales of his beautiful runaway wife, Cherry,evaporates on his death. An ugly old woman wearing too much makeup turns up,calling herself Auntie Geraldine. "'Cherry,' she said, 'is how they used to sayGerri.... All those Germans.'" Even her name is a mirage. These stories,dominated by mostly youthful narrators and lies told about sex and family,suggest Baker as a rural J.D. Salinger—a most promising start to a literarycareer. —Robyn Gillam

PublisherNot Avail
GanreShort Stories
Release date 02.02.2004
Pages count180
File size1.5 Mb
eBook formatUnknown Binding, (torrent)En
Book rating4.64 (16 votes)