Books·Canada Reads 2020

Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club by Megan Gail Coles

Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club is a novel by Megan Gail Coles.

Defended by Alayna Fender

Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club by Megan Gail Coles is being defended by Alayna Fender on Canada Reads 2020. (CBC)

Alayna Fender is defending Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club by Megan Gail Coles on Canada Reads 2020.

The debates were scheduled to take place March 16-19, 2020. Given the ongoing developments with COVID-19 and the related travel concerns, Canada Reads has made the difficult decision to postpone next week's event until we can convene our stellar panel of advocates in front of a live audience. 

Canada Reads content will still be featured next week (March 16-20), in a series of one hour programs dedicated to this year's books and authors.

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)

Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club was on the 2019 Scotiabank Giller Prize shortlist

About Alayna Fender

Alayna Fender is a cat-loving, Canadian, LGBTQ YouTube content creator who brings her frank and funny perspective to a wide range of topics, with wellness and sexuality being her specialties. When she's not creating online content, she is teaching mindfulness, compassion and inclusion at workshops, conventions and schools across North America.

About Megan Gail Coles

Megan Gail Coles is a playwright from St. John's. She previously published the short story collection Eating Habits of the Chronically Lonesome, which won the BMO Winterset Award, the ReLit Award and the Margaret and John Savage First Book Award. It also earned her the one-time Writers' Trust 5x5 prize.

Why Megan Gail Coles wrote Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club

"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."

Read more from her interview on The Next Chapter.

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.

Interviews with Megan Gail Coles

Shelagh Rogers talks to 2019 Giller Prize nominee, Megan Gail Coles, about Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club. 17:07
Megan Gail Coles on her novel, Small Game Hunting: At the Local Coward Gun Club. 2:28
Small Game Hunting At The Local Coward Gun Club is a sombre and at times harrowing story that speaks to larger issues that the author feels Newfoundland needs to face. 17:36

Other books by Megan Gail Coles

The Canada Reads 2020 contenders

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