Stacey May Fowles
Sometimes fear of becoming a Montreal hipster novelist is the quickest way to stop daydreams of moving, after another fruitless Halifax day. For those of us who never drank at Montreal's dive bars while attending McGill, those books can be like banging your head against a screenprinted gig-poster-adorned wall. Fowles, part of a contingent of Toronto-based writers who cut their teeth on every indie magazine in the country, traipses between Montreal and Vancouver in her first novel. Morgan is a femme fatale in the style of Margaret Atwood's Zenia in The Robber Bride, sucking suitors and friends into her self-destructive path. Hannah is her mesmerized, cautious friend. The story weaves through their mistakes, loves, cross-country moves, drinking problems and deceptions. The shifting perspectives and jolts between first- and third-person voice sometimes feel awkward, but Fowles' characters are well developed and relatable. Morgan and Hannah spend a summer bonding and subsequent months undoing their friendship. Perhaps there's no plot, but anyone fumbling directionless through their 20s will comprehend. Still, my tolerance for Montreal books is wearing. I'm waiting for the novel where characters get drunk at Gus' and have awkward morning-after run-ins at the market.