Andreas Kessaris’s collection of stories The Butcher of Park Ex: and Other Semi-Truthful Tales provides insight into growing up Greek-Canadian in Montreal, but his compelling style of writing draws in any reader regardless of their backgrounds. Anyone can relate to these stories. Kessaris’s strength is that his writing is accessible and peppered with humour while at the same time providing awareness to the struggles faced in immigrant communities. For instance, when his mom made the decision to come to Canada, she not only changed her own life but gave hope for generations after her. “Just think of how many Canadians are now here…will arise because of one brave woman looking for a better life…”
It’s not easy starting fresh in a new country and in this evocative collection, as if he were a painter depicting Greek tragedies and comedies, Kessaris produces scenes of overcoming hardships. Who doesn’t find comfort in laughter after dealing with some rough patches? In one of the earlier stories, Kessaris dazzlingly describes how a talking boot can make a child laugh or even an adult: “The show was hosted by a talking boot and taught the pleasures of reading and storytelling. I don’t know what genius came up with the idea of talking footwear or how it related to literacy, but for me it was often the highlight of the school week.”
Then there is a passage where Kessaris easily creates an image that can’t help but bring out a chuckle or two: “My dad owned a four-door 1974 Chevy Chevelle so monstrous that the U.S. Navy offered to buy it from him for use as an aircraft carrier…And the beast was fast…There we were, all four of us with no seat belts barrelling down the Interstate, and my father steering with only two fingers on the wheel, casually smoking one of his Export ‘A’ regulars with the other hand.”
What Kessaris excels at in this collection is his ability to take the ordinary and make it philosophical to any reader. “High school, especially that one, was not a place for me to shine or show my true self. That would have to come later. I would have to be a little more patient.”
And shine Kessaris has done in this humane and witty book as he openly recounts the heartbreak and joys he faced straddling two worlds.
The son of Greek immigrants, Andreas Kessaris grew up in the Park Extension district of Montreal. He has a B.A. from Concordia University. His feature column, Read On! with Andreas Kessaris was a popular feature in The Local Herald. His work has appeared on Suite 101.com and Curtainsup.ca. He currently resides in the Town of Mont-Royal, Quebec.
- Publisher : MiroLand (Oct. 1 2020)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 215 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1771834919
- ISBN-13 : 978-1771834919
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Sonia Saikaley was born and raised in Ottawa. Her first book, The Lebanese Dishwasher, co-won the 2012 Ken Klonsky Novella Contest. She has two poetry collections Turkish Delight, Montreal Winter and A Samurai’s Pink House. Her novel The Allspice Bath was the 2020 IPPY Gold Medal winner and the 2020 International Book Awards winner for Multicultural Fiction and a finalist in the 2020 Ottawa Book Awards. She is a graduate of the University of Ottawa and the Humber School for Writers. Her first children’s picture book Samantha’s Sandwich Stand was published by Renaissance Press in 2021.