cover image Ezra’s Ghosts

Ezra’s Ghosts

Darcy Tamayose. NeWest, $16.95 trade paper (288p) ISBN 978-1-77439-047-4

Tamayose (Odori) is not likely to find lukewarm readers for her challenging debut collection of four stories all circling the prairie town of Ezra; it will either baffle or dazzle, largely due to the idiosyncratic prose (“Great Wall. Grand. Old. Crumbly. Hard to believe humans built it. Walked. Sketched.”). In “The Thesis,” a student, Nick, works on his thesis but gets distracted by doodling and marginalia. The tale itself is a patchwork of storytelling methods, including gorgeous prose passages, epistolary email exchanges that hint at calamity, and images of Nick’s drawings. The result is brilliant but requires multiple readings to untangle. The denser but more traditionally structured “Ghostfly” offers an immersive and intelligent page turner, as a ghost narrates the story of her own murder amidst research into attacks on Indigenous women. “The Ryukyuan,” about a third-generation Polish Canadian immigrant, reads like a compact novel, merging the protagonist’s struggles in academia with well-wrought explorations of geographic history and heritage. In the propulsive but melodramatic “Redux,” an agoraphobic academic embarks on a research project with her son against a backdrop of global wars, internment camps, and economic depression. Tamayose’s experimental story structures and tight focus on academia make for a collection that will likely put off casual readers. For those willing to put in the work, this is a treasure. (Apr.)