The Fiddlehead summer fiction issue is here, and it’s the perfect read whether you’re lounging at the beach or sitting in a hammock. Spend those long, lazy, hazy days of summer, luxuriating in the fictional worlds of the fifteen stories gathered here. We have stories from established national and international writers such as Daniel Woodrell, D.R. MacDonald, and Kathy Page and stories from up-and-comers such as Charlie Fiset, Rod Moody-Corbett, and Mona’a Malik. And that's just some of the authors found within!

The fictional worlds found in the pages of this summer issue are something to behold! One minute, you’re in the Ozarks with a son who exacts revenge on a cruel and compassionless father, and the next will find you attending a South Asian Canadian wedding in suburban Toronto or hanging out in a bar in Barcelona. So sit back, relax, take a sip of your cool drink and prepare for a sizzling read.

Below we offer selections to invite you in, and to encourage you to stay by becoming a subscriber.

If you'd rather find this issue of The Fiddlehead on a newsstand near you, please check out our Retailers page under the Resources tab. Here you'll find a list of local magazine retailers that stock The Fiddlehead!


Contents, No. 264 Summer 2015

Editorial

5         Mark Anthony Jarman: Summer Breeze, Summer Skin

Fiction

6         Daniel Woodrell: Johanna Stull, 3/11/88, Blond, Brown
17       Alice Petersen: Seachange
22       Kathy Page: Dear Son
31       Mona'a Malik: Two Stories
60       D.R. MacDonald: Going to MacKenzie
67       Paul Leathers: We Men of the World
83       Paige Cooper: The Roar
94       Rod Moody-Corbett: Terminal
100     Charlie Fiset: If I Ever See the Sun
120     Kevin Hardcastle: Thought you were fast
130     Cynthia Flood: The Summer Boy
137     Mark Jacquemain: Porcupine
147     Rachel Adams: The Disappearances
156     Rob Doyle: Frank Casey till the Bitter End

Reviews

163      Richard Cumyn: Andrea & the Aunts: An Imaginary Literary
           Mentorship
           Midsummer, Carole Giangrande
           All Saints, K.D. Miller
           Jane and the Whales, Andrea Routley
167      Clarissa Hurley: Birding as blood sport
           Walt, Russell Wangersky
170      Richard Kelly Kemick: Picture Perfect History
           What I Want to Tell Goes Like This, Matt Rader
172      Ian Colford: A Precision Act
           Like Any Other Monday, Binnie Brennan
174      Reid Lodge: From the sarcastic to the deadlly serious,
           the mundane to the slightly bizarre
           Surge Narrows, Emilia Nielson
176      Susan Haley: The Secret Atom
           Mr. Jones, Margaret Sweatman

Notes on Contributors 176

Cover

Peter Salmon
Loyalist City Towing III
Oil on Canvas
54 x 36 in.


Summer Breeze, Summer Skin by Mark Anthony Jarman

I wanted to skip the editorial this summer, but The Keepers made me write one (a reference to one of the stories contained herein; you’ll find it near the end). I will be brief: this is an amazing collection, an astounding summer fiction issue. Look at the stories and writers from around the globe, writers new and proven: no one else in Canada can touch what we are doing right now.

There I’ve said it; the gods of the small mags can strike me down.

Thanks go to our readers, and thanks to managing editor Kathryn Taglia who herds the cats, to Ross the Hab Leckie whose poetry is like poetry, to Ian Lucky LeTourneau for working on the covers and much more, to Sabine Campbell who wrangles reviews, and especially to my sainted co-editor Gerry Beirne, who hails from far Cavan and brings in fiction from far and wee and spends much time working with the writers. It is a pleasure to work with all of them in our luxuriously appointed penthouse offices. And watch for more superb stories, fiction and nonfiction, in the fall and winter issues of The Fiddlehead; some very good ones are coming down the pipeline.

Have a strange feast of a summer, may you find your patio table and avoid stalled traffic and swimmer’s itch, and yes, that Speedo, like a timeless black dress and pearls, never goes out of style.

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Mark Jarman is the fiction editor of The Fiddlehead.

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Excerpt from We Men of the World by Paul Leathers

. . . When a sufficient stack of cut planks had formed against the wall of my father’s garage, we hefted them by twos and threes, walked them with upright, pivoting care to the back of the house, dropped to one knee, and set them down on the lawn with a grunt. Soon the whole pile had been shifted into the sun and tree-shadows. He tore the tabs from a new tub of nails and took off the lid. They looked clean and black and uncountable. We dug in and nailed the boards one by one into place. The hammer sounds echoed off the other houses and came back off-pitch and forlorn.

Across the street, a team of roofers sat on a half-tarped, half-shingled roof, eating out of Burger King bags and watching us with the mild curiosity of big dogs. My father waved to them with his hammer, and I did the same, fellow-labourers all, but they didn’t answer. One by one, as they finished their food, they balled up the bags and tossed them onto the driveway, trying to hit the convertible that was parked there.

From time to time my father paused and sat back on his haunches. He was watching me work, seeing how I got on with lumber and tools. This was the way a man with a reflective but practical nature tried to see how his son was turning out. It was the reason our work parties always came to feel like tests. He watched me line up boards, grab nails from the tub, take tentative swings with the hammer, protecting my fingers. I didn’t know what he saw or what was hidden from him. He knew he hadn’t attended to fatherhood the way he’d meant to, and it was little comfort to him, at such moments, to know that he hadn’t chosen the circumstances. I could have made it easier. I could have put down the tools and met his eyes, both of us heated and simplified by sun and exertion. I could have said, “It’s okay. Everything’s fine.” It wasn’t just the questionable truth of these things that kept me from saying them.

We ate our lunch at his neighbourhood diner, passing sections of old newspaper back and forth and accepting refills of weak coffee. When we got back there were more crossbeams to cut in the garage, so the gloves and goggles went back on. He pulled a cord, and a fluorescent tube suspended from the ceiling ticked and flickered and lit. The layer of sawdust on the worktable stood out with satisfying clarity, a dry particulate fur in the bluish, acidic light. The blade, blurred with speed, seemed less like a thing than a place, a force, a negative solid that took its shape from the disappearance of the thing that met it. . . .

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Paul Leathers, after a childhood spent in Ontario and Quebec, has settled in Port Townsend, Washington, where he lives with his wife Kris and their remarkable dog.

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Excerpt from If I Ever See the Sun by Charlie Fiset

. . . Roxane hates driving the loci alone on 4000 level because it’s where the fire started. It had been more than twenty years, but there were miners still working who remembered the two dead men’s faces, what they were like at The Miner’s Inn on Friday nights. There’s a plaque on the drift with the names and the date of the fire. The plaque always glints in Roxane’s headlamp when she drives the loci past, winking at her in the dark. Gloria told her a fire’s the worst thing that can happen in a mine. The smoke has nowhere to go when the power’s out and the fans aren’t working. This whole place breathes through a tiny little hole in the surface, he said, just like how you breathe out of tiny holes in your face. If the hole gets clogged, the whole body dies. There was nothing left of those two boys but their shadows on the rock.

“What do you mean?” she had asked.

“Branded into the rock,” he’d said again, “like at Hiroshima.”

She still didn’t understand, but didn’t want to ask him again because he might have thought she didn’t believe him — or worse, that she was afraid.

When she drives the loci by an intersection at a subdrift, the loci’s headlight shines down and carves the tunnel as deep as the light goes, but no further. The darkness collapses behind her. Usually there’s always buzzing in the mine, the hissing of pneumatics and the hard tinny vibration of diesel engines rebounding off the walls, filling up the dark with sound. But the loci’s battery powered and quiet except for the sound of the gliding wheels on the rails.

Roxane sees a light up ahead, down the drift. It’s faint, but too big to be a headlamp. She blows the horn. The light doesn’t move. She tries the horn again. She can’t stand the way the sound expands and fleshes out the drift, turning it into the ribbed gut of a bloated worm.

Before she can break, the loci starts slowing on its own. Something underneath her feet feels different, the pull of the wheels gone slack. Then the loci’s headlights go out. The loci glides to a complete stop and Roxane’s left staring down the drift at the light in the distance — she’s sure they’re headlights now, a Kubota, probably. . . .

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Charlie Fiset is a gold miner’s daughter from northern Ontario. She’s currently at work on a PhD in English at the University of New Brunswick.

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