Imagine you're given the startling news that your body is only capable of having six more orgasms. "It's either buck up or f%#k up," decides Mel in "Six Degrees of Altered Sensation," adding this new restraint to the perplexity of single life with progressive Multiple Sclerosis. In "Flickering," Francis becomes a pyromaniac in order to give her grown sons the opportunity to become heroes. Mundane directions for propane use parallel a brief sizzling affair in "Dick & Jane & the Barbecue and No, It's Not a Love Story."
Altered and twisted realities make the impossible possible for Clark's characters. Lillian, an arthritic senior in "Solitaire," discovers the rejuvenating properties of the bones of her lively, young new neighbour. Looming dementia is replaced by ravenous desire. In "Split Ends" a woman finds a book that contains her own memories, but it is written by a stranger with the same name; in "No U's," a woman slips away through the mail slot to escape her stagnant life.
Ranging from micro-fiction to near maxi-fiction, the stories in Attemptations are peopled by women, often physically challenged women--darkly humorous, feisty, sexy, manic, persevering, observant, contemplative women. These characters will snag you.
About the Author
Disease and desire, mothering and the mundane propel her ongoing journey between poetry and prose. Her debut fiction collection, Attemptations (Caitlin Press), was launched in 2011 and one of its novellas has been optioned for a 90 minute feature film. Kim's work can be found in Body Breakdowns (Anvil Press), the Malahat Review, and e-zines and other publications in Canada and the U.S.. She lives in Cedar on Vancouver Island. Two poetry collections are coming out this year, as well: Dis ease and De sire, the M anu S cript (Lipstick Press) Spring 2012 and Sit You Waiting (Caitlin Press) Fall 2012.
A life measured in Orgasms......
Kim Clark's loosely cloaked short stories, lay bare an unbridled passion and a well seasoned body of work. With double thumbed entendre, instincts over ride social convention and she brings us to edge of Climax ~ the primal brink.
More, more, more!
Edgy, darkly humourous stories with unforgettable characters
Kim Clark's debut collection of short (and long) stories is thought-provoking, funny, and often squirm-inducing in its unflinching take on real people placed in uncomfortable situations. A fair number of her stories employ magic realism to take the characters to places they wouldn't otherwise get to (which is awesome if you like that sort of thing, which I very much do). Clark has an incredible gift for wordplay so if you like books where the words used to tell the tale are as important as the story itself, this book is for you. -Erin Whalen "Erin Whalen"
High on Desire
The shorter stories at the beginning of Attemptations build towards the longer ones. The characters throughout have physical challenges. Even the dog in "Dick & Jane and the Barbecue" has epilepsy and Jane has "an obscure disease involving physical wasting."
In one of the longer stories, Lillian, an aging woman with arthritis, plays cards on her own giving the story its title, "Solitaire." Lillian's days consist of taking her meds, eating a poached egg for dinner, and perhaps watching a documentary about superstitions and talismans. The writing is refreshing and far from ordinary even while describing ordinary events. Clark, who is also a poet, appears to delight in her own word wizardry and readers get to share in that delight.
With a desire for her own lucky rabbit's foot, Lillian hears about human feet--"mostly left"--being washed up onto Gulf Island beaches. As bizarre and macabre as that sounds, detached human feet, mostly left ones, have been found on various occasions on island beaches along the west coast of British Columbia. With a blend of the imagined and the real, it's easy to get caught up in this altered reality.
Lillian dreams herself "agile as all get-out" and into a feline body. At some point "dreams become reality" and it's best, I found, to relax and go along for the shape shifting ride. The story, like the other ones in the collection is quirky, darkly humorous and not quickly forgotten.
The other long story of the collection, "Six Degrees of Altered Sensation" is novella length. The protagonist is Melanie, a writer, who has MS. She's another of Clark's feisty female characters who is making out her "Xmas" to-do list. Seeing this list with items crossed off throughout the first chapter of the story adds to the humor of it. Again, Clark has suffused the ordinary with a gutsy and bewitching authenticity.
At her launch in Nanaimo, B.C. Clark said she finds this story the most fun. Indeed it is. Melanie's inner dialogue is hilarious at times and she is another character full of desire as well as a disability. Mel goes to an MS clinic for her annual check-up where she learns the results of a Sexual Neuro-Response Study. Dr. Sharni tells Mel that she'll only be able to have a few more orgasms before her "sensory nerves, the sympathetic system, will stop responding." She's given a number; six and Mel finds that "six is so close to sex, even the numerical becomes highly erotic."
Charlene, Mel's friend, tells her she can't survive on desire. "Yah, well, watch me. It's a different kind of high," Mel responds. That's what Clark's stories are: erotic, full of shape shifting, dark humor, and everyday magic--a different kind of high.
I appreciated the unexpected and the sense that Kim Clark threw caution to the wind and seized every opportunity to surprise herself and her readers. Clark's main characters have physical challenges, are full of desire and surprise, and they don't let anything get past them.
by Mary Ann Moore
for Story Circle Book Reviews
reviewing books by, for, and about women
(Net Proceeds to Benefit the National Multiple Sclerosis Society -Multiple Sclerosis Research Department)
Phone: (877) 436-7116