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A Gardener on the Moon

by Carole Giangrande

Novellas are notoriously difficult to sell and therefore avoided by most publishers. Often tucked into collections of stories, they are too slender for the buying public to see their value as individual units. Quattro Books, a four-year-old Toronto publisher, is taking a chance on novellas, most recently with its Ken Klonsky Novella Contest winner, Carole Giangrande.

Giangrande is well-practiced at both long and short forms, with two novels and a short story collection under her belt. A Gardener on the Moon, told from the perspective of middle-aged Pierre as he remembers, misremembers, and regrets the choices he has made in his life, is certainly skilfully written. Pierre’s story touches upon language and culture, the time he spent as a POW during the Second World War, lost or soured love, and betrayal.

A few passages stand out as particularly memorable. For instance, Pierre, wishing he could name a son after his long-dead brother, laments that there will always be someone’s memory to honour, and “this naming … would never end.” When he recalls his friend who died by his side in the POW camp, his recollections are contradictory, unreliable, and yet manage to contain many horrors in a few short words.

The writing is strong, but the book reads as though it should have been a novel. It is set in Montreal during the October Crisis, but the domestic politics of the time rate only a passing mention. Why is “language the only homeland,” as the epigraph insists? Where is the resolution? Too little is fully explored, leaving the reader wanting more.


Reviewer: Christina Decarie

Publisher: Quattro Books


Price: $16.95

Page Count: 76 pp

Format: Paper

ISBN: 978-1-92680-205-3

Released: May

Issue Date: 2010-7

Categories: Fiction: Novels