by Giselle Renarde
Lucky Me! I get to write about reading on Halloween. Mwahahaha....
Instead of telling you about these clever little ghost stories, I want to talk about the environment in which they're set. See, Robertson Davies wrote them to read at Massey College's annual Christmas party. They're all set at the college.
And they're great fun. And, as alumna of the University of Toronto, I should feel a sense of affinity for the setting, but here's the thing: I don't know Massey College. I'm a Vic grad, just like Margaret Atwood (I like to mention that as often as possible because I've never actually accomplished anything). I don't think I've set foot in Massey College. In fact, I had to look it up on a map just to figure out where it is. It IS a real place, just not one in which I had any classes.
So here's my question: when we're reading fiction set on this planet, how close is close enough?
When I was younger, I sought out stories of faraway places. I wanted to read about lands I hadn't been to and cultures I wasn't particularly familiar with: India, China, Japan--anywhere distant from here. I guess I wanted to learn by immersion, fiction-style.
Now I'm looking at my bookshelf and thinking about the books I've bought in recent years, and I'm realizing how much my tastes have changed. The last novel I purchased was "The Stubborn Season" by Lauren B. Davis, which is set in Toronto during the Depression. Pretty much everything I read is set in Southern Ontario. It helps that we have a wealth of outstanding authors in this province. It's easy to find fiction that plays out close to home.
But I worry that my world is becoming too insular. I write for a living, and I don't leave the apartment most days. What do I read? Not books that get me out of my city, out of my province, my country, or even my world. I suppose I stay close to home because I find comfort in the familiar.
So it's really kind of ridiculous that I'm reading stories set at my Alma Mater and complaining because they don't take place at MY college.
Picky, picky, Giselle...
Though, I supposed the closer you get to real life in the subject matter, the more you need those sparks of recognition to shine with a special brightness.
Giselle Renarde is a queer Canadian, avid volunteer, and contributor to more than 100 short story anthologies, including Best Women’s Erotica, Best Lesbian Erotica, Best Bondage Erotica, and Best Lesbian Romance. Ms Renarde has written dozens of juicy books, including Anonymous, Ondine, and Nanny State. Her book The Red Satin Collection won Best Transgender Romance in the 2012 Rainbow Awards. Giselle lives across from a park with two bilingual cats who sleep on her head.