cover image A Three-Tiered Pastel Dream

A Three-Tiered Pastel Dream

Lesley Trites. Véhicule (IPG, U.S. dist.; LitDistCo, Canadian dist.), $16.95 trade paper (180p) ISBN 978-1-55065-464-6

This debut collection of short stories from Montreal writer Trites (who has previously published a poetry collection, Echoic Mimic) gazes deeply into modern womanhood and the way in which having it all can easily slip into wistful envy. In one story, two people who have different priorities take an around-the-world trip to try to save their relationship. In another, a pregnant woman has to deal with her inconvenient feelings for her husband’s brother. An emergency doctor unable to reconcile the various aspects of her life disappears on her daughter’s first birthday. A woman has to find a way to discuss her husband’s suicide with their young daughter. These stories are carefully observed and sharply written, never overdone or too neatly plotted. As Trites focuses on mothers who can’t cope with the babies they have, women unable to have the babies they desperately want, mental illness and addictions, unsatisfying relationships, and frustrated but choosy singlehood, her female characters struggle to chart a course between what they want and what the world expects of them. The collection is a fresh take on the midlife crisis question, “Is this it?” (Sept.)