Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club
Megan Gail Coles
Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club by Megan Gail Coles is on the 2019 Scotiabank Giller Prize shortlist.
The awards ceremony will be hosted by Juno Award-winning singer-songwriter Jann Arden.
About Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club
February in Newfoundland is the longest month of the year.
Another blizzard is threatening to tear a strip off downtown St. John's, while inside The Hazel restaurant a storm system of sex, betrayal, addiction and hurt is breaking overhead. Iris, a young hostess from around the bay, is forced to pull a double despite resolving to avoid the charming chef and his wealthy restaurateur wife. Just tables over, Damian, a hungover and self-loathing server, is trying to navigate a potential punch-up with a pair of lit customers who remain oblivious to the rising temperature in the dining room. Meanwhile Olive, a young woman far from her northern home, watches it all unfurl from the fast and frozen street. Through rolling blackouts, we glimpse the truth behind the shroud of scathing lies and unrelenting abuse, and discover that resilience proves most enduring in the dead of this winter's tale.
By turns biting, funny, poetic and heartbreaking, Megan Gail Coles's debut novel rips into the inner lives of a wicked cast of characters, building towards a climax that will shred perceptions and force a reckoning. This is blistering Newfoundland Gothic for the twenty-first century, a wholly original, bracing, and timely portrait of a place in the throes of enormous change, where two women confront the traumas of their past in an attempt to overcome the present and to pick up a future. (From House of Anansi Press)
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From the book
Olive waits below the sad mural painted in memory of some long ago drowned boy.
She can see up and down Duckworth Street from her perch though there's not much to see this early in the morning. A scattered taxi slogs by carrying fiendish-looking passengers who attempt to discreetly smoke from barely cracked windows. Discretion is a skill they have fallen out with but they don't know that yet. They still fancy themselves stealth, piling four parka-plied humans into a single toilet stall, scarves dangling beneath the door, telling tails on them all.
Volume control is a thing of delusion in the confined spaces they inhabit. It will be years before this is fully realized by those who escape the scene or are thrown into adulthood by overdose or pregnancy. These lucky few will feel overwhelmingly, retroactively embarrassed by their one-time rock star fantasies. Olive can hear them bawling about their supposed betrayals as clouds of tobacco smoke and slurry syllables updraft skyward through the slightly parted window.
But Olive forgives them their make-believe follies.
From Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club by Megan Gail Coles ©2019. Published by House of Anansi Press.
"My book is very much about power imbalance. It is about people who have power and people who do not, and why. The novel is set in a restaurant called the Hazel in downtown St. John's on Duckworth Street. It takes place over the course of one day in February. I set a hard story in the hardest part of the year.
It seemed to me that the only way to get people to wake up was to actually stage the book inside of a living nightmare.- Megan Gail Coles
"I know there will be people who are uncomfortable with the tone of the novel because it is so full on. It is unrelenting at times by design. There have been times when I have tried to approach this same discussion and I have been ignored. It seemed to me that the only way to get people to wake up was to actually stage the book inside of a living nightmare. But I urge everyone to be brave enough to move through it."