Anna Leventhal’s writing has appeared in Geist, Matrix, and the anthologies The Journey Stories 20 (McClelland & Stewart) and The Future Hygienic (PistolPress). She was nominated for the 2008 Journey Prize and was the second-place winner of the 2009 Quebec Writing Competition. She was the contributing editor of The Art of Trespassing, an anthology of short stories put out by Invisible Publishing in 2008. Her work has appeared on the CBC Radio One programs OutFront and Cinq a Six and has been translated into Slovenian. She has been writer-in-residence in a modified toolshed in Halifax, a greasy spoon in Winnipeg, and the Writing Studio at the Banff Centre. Leventhal is a co-founder of The Society for the Preservation of Anachronistic Gesture, an ongoing writing/performance project with theatre artist Taliesin McEnaney. She lives in Montreal.
Work on Offer:
Invisible Publishing, Spring 2014
“All the nurses’ names here end in nda: Rhonda, Randa, Amanda, Linda, Little Linda, Panda. No, I made that up. No one is named Panda, though one of Rhonda’s tunics is patterned with little pajama-clad bears. Is tunic the right word? Probably not – it’s too close to panic, which is not encouraged in the ward. People do anyway, but quietly.”
-- from “Sweet Affliction”
is the inventive and accomplished debut collection by Anna Leventhal. The twelve stories in Sweet Affliction
are an eclectic gloss on modern life and relationships, often foregrounding women as they broach themes of embodiment, fertility, and sexuality. From the title story, where a woman’s cancer diagnosis suggests to her a new stage of evolution, to “Helga Volga,” a tender and raw story of one couple’s changing dynamic, these short stories probe the workings of human attachments with lyricism, humour and insight.
In “The Polar Bear at the Museum” (nominated for the 2008 Journey Prize), the tensions of identity and the underpinning violence of high school are played out in a fraught friendship between two girls. “Moving Day” is an episodic examination of class, ownership, and civic duty that follows several denizens of Montreal on a very special holiday. Part satire, part George Saunders-esque speculation, it describes a city and a population that is raucously apathetic and resignedly rebellious. In “Notes from Cave 11,” a ghost-led archeological expedition makes a “remarkable” discovery, but in history, as in life, things may not always be as they seem. Other stories follow a man dealing with the death of his pet rat, the child of an experimental family who develops an odd coping mechanism, and a pair of sisters in an “it’s complicated” relationship with an older man.
Sweet Affliction capitalizes on the energy, rhythm and contradictions of contemporary life and relationships, offering a vision of humanity that is as funny as it is dark, and as broadly sympathetic as it is incisively caustic. This is an impressive and original offering in the spirit of Miranda July, Pasha Malla, and Alice Munro.