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Loose End is collection of very short stories about the unexpected riches inside people and about the intriguing clues and nuggets that can be observed if we only bother to tug at the exposed “loose end” of life. Ivan Coyote glimpses the extraordinary, the heartbreaking and the infuriating as she reflects on her friends and neighbours, strangers and herself.

The negotiation of gender is central to Coyote’s existence and it is a lens for most of the experiences she recounts in Loose End. It’s amazing how easy it is for a girl who dresses like a boy to shock and disturb and it reminds us how little anything outside of the mainstream is tolerated. Coyote investigates gender as a lived experience and not as a polemic, but she does make the alarming suggestion that homosexuals can never just be “regular” men or women but are some combination of the two.

As a fellow Vancouverite, I enjoyed recognizing local stories told as personal anecdotes instead of dry pieces on the evening news. There are extra chuckles for those in the know, but all readers will recognize Coyote’s neighbourhood: that part of town where the artists and misfits live and where lawn care is not mandatory. Many of these anecdotes have become staples of Coyote’s storytelling repertoire and as such they are simple and direct. While I admire Coyote’s conversational tone, there are a few clichéd phrases that don’t work on the page or spoken aloud. In the best stories, Coyote takes one more step away from the action and uses her powers of observation to shed light on the world. (Kris Rothstein)

by Ivan E. Coyote, $17.95, 176 pgs, Arsenal Pulp Press, 200 – 341 Water Street, Vancouver, BC, V6B 1B8, arsenalpulp.com


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