The characters in Toronto writer Jim Nason’s stories are inspired by “every day people riding the TTC” — the city’s transit system — which makes me a little nervous about the routes he frequents. The people depicted here are fundamentally broken. These are stories of abandonment, abuse, and addiction — stories in which no one is guaranteed a happily-ever-after.
In the first story, “Braces,” a 12-year-old boy is caught between his parents and cannot possibly live up to either’s expectations. In “Nibble,” a young woman fails to find love with a man whose actions and words unwittingly echo her abusive father’s. In my favourite, and perhaps the most complex story in this collection, “Triptych Twister,” an older man drives away his younger male lover and would-be fiancé after the death of his ex-wife.
Each tale is told through brief, punchy scenes some of which run only a paragraph long. The characters in these stories burn bright and quick. While this works to keep the stories moving — often in unexpected directions — I felt many of the stories could have been fleshed out a little more, particularly in regards to the secondary characters. I wanted to get to know the people here better, get deeper into who they were and what motivated them to continue down such ultimately destructive paths.
Nason certainly has a knack for writing about misery and the ways people choose to mess up their own lives. So far, I’m happy to go along for the ride. (Nico Mara-McKay)
Jim Nason, 175 pgs, Tightrope Books, tightropebooks.com, $19. 95