Jane and the Whales
In this playful yet poignant debut collection, Andrea Routley muddies the line between the physical and emotional worlds: reality becomes not simply what is in front of us, but a mutable, fragile place in the imagination.
On the verge of divorce, and in a pot-induced haze, Tom Douglas prepares to roast a pork shank in his new-and contentious-Authentic Italian Brick Oven, but some surprise visitors threaten to spoil the dinner. In a story set in 1997, the last earth-bound member of a Hale-Bopp suicide cult reconsiders her final act. In an oceanside campground, one woman resolves to lead an ascetic life, but a dog makes this difficult in a surreal turn of events. After being accused of sexual harassment, a sharp-witted but naïve teenager discovers a surprising truth about her teacher. In another story, the body of a teenager murdered thirty years earlier is uncovered near Mallory's childhood school. Back for the memorial service, and with only vague memories of the place, she tries to make sense of his death, but walks into an unexpected mystery. In the title story, "Jane and the Whales," Jane is on a quest to discover the meaning of her unlable astral projections, which always lead her back to the same diminishing gay bar.
Violence, transmutation, log booms, tenderness, a game of Bat and Moth-all have a role to play in these wildly diverse stories. Many of Routley's characters suffer loss, shame and guilt. But the promise of clarity comes only with doubt and that frightening unravelling of certainty. With this dense and imaginative collection, Andrea Routley has firmly planted herself in the literary landscape.
- Runner-up, Lambda Literary Award, Debut Fiction 2014
“Andrea Routley could grow into a fierce good writer, even a great one. Many of her stories tell us things we might not have known about the natural world. She has that unteachable instinct for the killer instant when a character peels back whatever has been obscuring the truth.”
–Richard Cumyn, The Fiddlehead