From a writer whom the New York Times dubbed Canada’s “Generation X laureate” comes a quartet of haunting, unforgettable tales of young people stuck in the inescapable prison of family.
A New York Times Notable Book and winner of Britain’s prestigious Winifred Holtby Memorial Prize, Traplines is the book that introduced the world to Canadian author Eden Robinson. In three stories and a novella, Robinson explodes the idea of family as a nurturing safe haven through a progression of domestic horrors experienced by her young, often helpless protagonists. With her mesmerizing, dark skill, the author ushers us into these worlds of violence and abuse, where family loyalty sometimes means turning a blind eye to murder, and survival itself can be viewed as an act of betrayal.
In the title story, for a teenager named Will growing up on a Native reserve in northwestern Canada, guilt, race, and blind fidelity are the shackles chaining him to the everyday cruelty and abuse he is forced to endure. In “Dogs in Winter,” a girl recalls life with her serial-killer mother and fears for her own future. A young teen and the sadistic, psychopathic cousin who comes to live with him engage in a cat-and-mouse game that soon escalates out of control in “Contact Sports,” while in the final story, “Queen of the North,” a young Native girl deals in her own way with sexual molestation at the hands of a pedophile uncle.
Each of these tales is vivid, intense, and disturbing, and Robinson renders them unforgettable with her deft flair for storytelling and a surprising touch of humor.