The city of Fontainebleau, situated on the banks of the Detroit River, is undergoing growing pains and strange things are happening. There’s something poisonous in the water, something menacing in the sky, and the soil, laced with an ancient curse, is yielding up unidentified bones along with corn. In this collection of linked stories—part surreal picaresque, part dark comedy, and part murder mystery—magic meets the mundane as misfits and miscreants struggle to free themselves from untenable situations. A girl with mermaid syndrome disappears into a field, a fugitive boy dreams of finding anonymity in Toronto while his abandoned pregnant girlfriend hallucinates his second coming, and a nostalgic chambermaid finds her memories vanish when she puts on a stranger’s wig. There’s a rash of killings in the city that attract a lovesick police officer. No one knows who’s responsible for the crimes, but the city has plenty of candidates, like the crazy son of a judge who murdered a man in Disney World and the grieving vandal who’s obsessed with the idea of cutting a woman in half. Then there are the abusive husbands, snuff film producers, inconspicuous con women, and pederasts who live secret double lives. Are the characters in this oddly probable world masters or victims of their own fate? How do their lives intersect? Is it likely that destruction will ultimately prevail over this desolate land, or will consciousness, like a flaming firebird, lead at least some of the city’s inhabitants to self-acceptance, redemption, or escape?
Advance praise for Fontainebleau:
“A darkly engrossing and artfully composed sequence of stories from a contemporary master of the form — Sonik’s fearsome prose shines sublime light on the plain-sight secrets of modern life.”
— Lee Henderson, author of The Man Game and The Road Narrows as You Go
“These are tough, ruined, inevitable lives portrayed with a skill and grace that somehow finds hidden beauty, often the gleaming quality of myth, and always a poignancy that finds its direct way to the heart. This collection should cement Madeline Sonik’s place among Canada’s finest short story writers.”
— Bill Gaston, author of Just Let Me Look At You
Madeline Sonik is a teacher, writer, and editor. Her work has been published extensively in journals, magazines, and academic anthologies. Her literary nonfiction title, Afflictions & Departures (memoir/essays), won the City of Victoria Butler Book Prize, was a Finalist for the Charles Taylor Prize for literary non-fiction, and was nominated for the BC National Award for Canadian non-Fiction. Her other books include Stone Sightings (poetry), Arms (a novel), Drying the Bones (stories) and Belinda and the Dustbunnys (children’s novel). She has a MFA in Creative Writing and a PhD in Education, both from UBC. She has also been the recipient of numerous awards, prizes and fellowships for her writing. She currently teaches at the University of Victoria.