Recently, Breakwater Books the publisher of Tracey Waddleton’s debut collection of short fiction tweeted a Goodreads review:
I thought that was a pretty good description of Send More Tourists… and aside from the odd ‘Barbie head’ there are a lot of great ‘cookies’ in this collection, too. While some reviewers think that the humorous title befits this book, I think there is a darker side to many of the stories (which I was attracted to), for the reader is immediately introduced to the ubiquitous creature under the bed/in the closet in ‘It Lunged.’ Cthulhu is referenced in ‘The Creation of Water,’ depression in ‘Riding With Maurice’ (“are you taking your pills?”) and infatuation in ‘The Woman in the Yellow Dress’ (the ‘woman’ in question is in a photograph). Suicide presents itself as the only way out for several of the characters in her story, too. “Sure, there was nothing to be done, she said and set the kettle on the stove” is the laconic reaction of a neighbour to news of a girl’s suicide in ‘Old Ben Walsh.’
Maybe those Barbie heads that one pulls out of that cookie jar might look like this?
My favourite story is ‘Mr. Moriarty’ about an old man in a nursing home reminiscing about a life unlived. Nothing outstanding about that trope you say? Consider the fact that Ms. Waddleton is a young woman yet she still captures so well the innermost travails of a man at the end-stage of life. Plus, she does the recounting most creatively by having him relate to us about five ways he has failed in his life. He invites us: “Here. Let me count them out.” They are:
- I have not loved enough
- I did not travel enough
- I never followed my dreams
- I never got the car
- I never learned enough
Each numbered heading causes him to not only explain himself to the reader, but it invokes thoughts of Margaret, his deceased wife and of his children who only visit a couple of times a year.
In the beginning, I thought of her often. Everything different, sleeping alone and eating alone and nobody to talk to about the little things, how was your day and that sort stuff. The smell of her faded too and I almost can’t imagine it anymore. Now it’s just me and the memory of Margaret and the children who don’t come by, except on Christmas and my birthday, and that is why I don’t love them.
As this reviewer approaches his seventh decade of life, thoughts like Ms. Waddleton creates in ‘Mr. Moriarty’ are all very real and hit closer and closer to home (although I don’t have any children to ignore me). Very well done.
Breakwater Books continue to promote fresh new voices in the Newfoundland writing scene. Witness Susie Taylor’s Even Weirder Than Before, Bridget Canning (The Greatest Hits of Wanda Jaynes) and Melissa Barbeau (The Luminous Sea) just to name a few. Tracey Waddleton is yet another exciting young writer to watch. So set the kettle on the stove and get ready for some delicious tea and cookies…with a side of Barbie heads.
I am adding Send More Tourists… to the 2020 long list in the Best Short Fiction category for “The Very Best!” Book Awards.
The sheer energy is marvelous and there’s so much poignancy too. Yep, I love these stories!” – The Minerva Reader
Send More Tourists…The Last Ones Were Delicious by Tracey Waddleton
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James M. Fisher is the owner and editor-in-chief of The Miramichi Reader. The Miramichi Reader (TMR) —Canada’s best-regarded source for the finest in new literary releases— highlights noteworthy books and authors across Canada from coast to coast to coast (est. 2015). James works and resides in Miramichi, New Brunswick with his wife Diane and their tabby cat Eddie.