Death Sentences

Death Sentences

SUZANNE MYRE
Translated by Cassidy Hildebrand
Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 139
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt9qh3qp
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  • Book Info
    Death Sentences
    Book Description:

    Death may seem a grim subject matter but, in the capable hands of Suzanne Myre, nothing is beyond humour. Though at times sincere, sorrowful, and even a tad gruesome,Death Sentencesis also wry, mordant, and amusingly ironic.

    Death Sentencesfeatures 13 unique short stories, thematically united by death, sex, and existential angst. Solitary and dejected characters explore Montreal's parks and alleys, seeking comfort and contending with their own everyday tragedies. A woman contemplates the deadly consequences of an almond croissant; another escapes her worries in a monastery. Precocious children's fates are intertwined with a Rottweiler's. Young girls fall in love with the most unlikely partners and a woman seeks salvation in a most unconventional way. The tales inDeath Sentencesintrigue, surprise, and entertain, from one page to the next.

    eISBN: 978-0-7766-2170-8
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-xiv)
  4. Vile City
    (pp. 1-8)

    Baldwin Park. Ten tai-chi amateurs form a pretty, moving mosaic under the hundred-year-old trees. They move in unison, without a sound, scarcely disturbing the grass as they shift their feet, clad in Chinese slippers. Contemplating them provides pure, though slightly soporific, rapture. It’s quite incomprehensible, but the calm washing over the spectator seems as powerful as that of the participant. Might as well stay on the bench, it requires less effort.

    For a week now, instead of going to the off-leash area, Maryse has been walking her wiener dog Hygrade along the paths in the park. Around her waist, she’s...

  5. The Birthday Gift
    (pp. 9-12)

    I want to leave everything clean and tidy behind me. The last impression is important. When they arrive, I don’t want them to think I didn’t know how to keep house. I just hope I don’t have time to start to smell. I’m going to take a bath and slip into my pink and red dress, the one I’d like to be displayed and buried in. You have to liven up these things, these events, otherwise, everybody broods. I’m going to write a note about that. On each side of my bed, I’m going to place some votives, but I...

  6. Missing Hug
    (pp. 13-28)

    We had gym class yesterday. I hate gym class. I’m always afraid of taking a ball to the stomach or falling off the balance beam and cracking my head open on the way down. That happened to Morgane last year. After the accident, which was the talk of the school for months, she wore her hair across her forehead to hide the scar, but ever since Harry Potter became popular, she’s uncovered her face, because her scar’s in the shape of a broomstick, so she feels a sort of affinity with him. She already looked like a witch, that just...

  7. Cell Phones in the Air
    (pp. 29-34)

    I’m dead from a head-on collision. Bike to bike, face to face, handlebar to handlebar. This sort of accident is extremely rare, it’ll probably earn me a short column under the “news in brief” section of the newspaper, something like, “Cyclist Impaled by Handlebar.”

    Just yesterday, a friend told me I was careless to ride my bike between cars, but as luck would have it, when it happened, I was on a two-lane bike path, much to her astonishment. She’s an advocate of public transportation. I’ve always refused to wait like a paralytic sucker for a crowded bus where you...

  8. Bitter Ashes
    (pp. 35-42)

    I barely have time to sit one cheek in my chair and assess the taste of my coffee before the phone rings. My colleague graces me with an irritated glance; the ring prevented her from hearing the winning lottery number. She turns up the volume on the radio. I press the receiver tightly against my good ear, as my older sister’s voice is feeble and uncertain. She’s calling me from the planet of the orphans, our new planet, the one where you lack the ability to go about your daily life. In one quick breath, as if she’s afraid I’m...

  9. Don’t Fall Asleep!
    (pp. 43-50)

    The day she was born, Sophie could already make people laugh. The second following her ejection from the maternal cocoon, she broke a small wind that was as powerful as an outboard motor. The staff in the delivery room laughed until they couldn’t breathe. Never had they witnessed such an outburst from a newborn; a hiccup, sure, but a fart, never. So funny! Once she was cleaned up, they noticed the roundness of her nose and the enormity of her mouth, made for swallowing melons whole.

    “She has the face of a clown,” said her father.

    “Or a mime,” retorted...

  10. Felix and the Cat
    (pp. 51-60)

    At the corner of the sloping alley, so lush with flowers you’d think you were in the countryside, two large recycling bins shelter a cat. A distracted passer-by might think that the cat was sleeping curled up against the fence, but no cat sleeps twisted into such a grotesque position unless it has four dislocated legs or a broken neck; alas, the cat is not asleep, but dead. A few hours ago, this cat was alive and happy, an unwitting zootherapy practitioner; a polite young cat who good-naturedly accepted the self-interested touch of passers-by seeking some comfort of their own....

  11. He Loves Her So Much
    (pp. 61-66)

    I’m crazy about her. Ever since I met her, every second that goes by that I’m unable to inhale her scent is a second lost, a time-space where I survive, waiting to regain my substance, my human form. Next to her I become whole again, I lose all my handicaps.

    (Are you blind? She’s a rock. She’s the rock that makes you stumble. Several times a day, you fall flat on your face, break your heart a little more, torment your mind, further diminish your already low supply of self-esteem. But)

    “I love you so much.”

    “Me too, darling. But...

  12. Spot of Salvation
    (pp. 67-76)

    “Ladies, I know where your G-spot is hiding. Gilbert.” This line, which stands out from the others in the “Personal Growth” column, catches Léa’s eye. The bold characters, all in capitals and underlined, are hard to miss. This guy hadn’t skimped on anything to attract attention; he’s either a prankster or a true specialist in body illiteracy. Each of Léa’s lovers believed themselves to be more skilful than the last. She had been swept from top to bottom and none had been able to get beyond the C. For clitoris, of course; the last resort for those poor wretches for...

  13. In the Box
    (pp. 77-84)

    You . . .

    So tiny, as we are when we’re six years old, you know, more bone than flesh, you go unnoticed in your blue dress, a Sunday schoolgirl dress, nicely ironed, not a single wrinkle in sight. The scent of flowers is overwhelming; it clogs every pore of your skin, you can taste them on your tongue, the sweet flavour of a rainy day. Your daddy is lying on his back, rigid; he’s not sleeping, nobody could sleep that much. As people move incessantly around you, stopping to sweep the bangs from your forehead (the tuft that falls...

  14. Death of a Guard Dog
    (pp. 85-90)

    Tristan and Bérénice. Two children of modern times, adorned with brilliant names that reveal a parental concern to crown them at birth. Pretty names for lovely six-year-old children like the others, the exception being that these two would go to private school and be deprived of nothing. Two future scientific or literary award winners, already intrigued by the placid water that shines and sparkles under the glacial winter sun, captivated by the poetry emanating from the reptilian, translucent mass that stretched across otherwise banal surfaces. The smooth and alluring ice covering Bérénice’s wrought-iron balcony.

    It must have been absolutely adorable...

  15. Marie, to Death
    (pp. 91-98)

    This is the fourth Sunday in a row that I’ve schemed to wangle my way out of the nine o’clock torture session. Mom is starting to get the hint. Ever since I discovered the perfect anti-mass look, she doesn’t even try to drag me there by force anymore, the way she used to when I was younger, four masses ago. I’ll just humiliate her in front of everybody with my sullen little girl look.

    She leaves for church with her hair styled, ‘lipsticked,’ wearing cheap perfume and dressed like when she goes to Café du Nord to find a replacement...

  16. Mona’s Retreat
    (pp. 99-123)

    I had become a fan of Dr. Phil, I confess (but only under torture). I loved to curl up into a ball with Snuggles in front of the TV every evening from five to six for my favourite show. Snuggles didn’t judge me, whether I was watching a science show or some piece of crap. We purred and watched the good doctor as he reprimanded, with his legendary elegance, people who seemed to be even more emotionally lame than me.

    I often wondered what enticed these people to air their relationship problems in front of an audience. Sure, some people...

  17. Back Matter
    (pp. 124-124)