So it’s funny that I’m writing this review today, of all days. Mainly because I was lucky enough to meet the author of Teardown, Clea Young this week for the very first time. But I’ve spoken to Clea many times in the past, we’ve shared many laughs together, as well as many frustrations, but Monday night was the very first time I had met her in the flesh, and it was wonderful. We had worked closely alongside each other when I was at Wordfest, she essentially had (still does) the equivalent of my job at the Vancouver Writers Festival, so our tasks overlapped quite a bit. I knew she was a writer, and her first book was just released last month, so needless to say I was more than excited to pick it up. Of course, I was not disappointed.
Teardown is a collection of short stories, and it’s published by Calgary press Freehand Books, so already it’s incorporating a few of my favourite things. And not surprisingly, the book is beautifully designed, with gorgeous title pages for each story. Obviously this is a very subjective thing, but I really liked the cover as well, the colour scheme fits the tone of the collection perfectly.
The stories themselves were fun to read. The title story was by far my favourite, it followed a young pregnant couple in the lighting section of Ikea having an argument about a pendant lamp. You can see why I found this book relatable-who doesn’t have disagreements in Ikea? Once the couple gets separated in the store, the soon-to-be father goes to the cafeteria and smugly assures himself that he won’t be like ‘those parents’ who he sits beside:
” ‘Let mommy eat her food,’ said a woman through clenched teeth. ‘Mommy needs energy to deal with you’…I imagined our unborn child sitting quietly with the picture book I would bring along for just this sort of situation…A man I guessed was the father jabbed at his phone. Mari and I would not be like these parents; we’d be super-engaged. (p. 7)”
I loved this quote so much I read it aloud to my husband because every parent has said this to themselves before their child is actually born. And then they have their first kid and realize they were naive fools before they became parents themselves. How I yearn for those days of pre-baby ignorance, anyway I digress.
Many of Young’s stories are about this specific time in our lives; deep into marriage, but not deep enough to have a balanced perspective of parenthood within marriage. “Firestorm” is about a young married couple facing their first bout of infidelity, and as a forest fire rages just miles from them, their rage at each other seems just as dangerous. I could be reading into things here, but I suspect that Young (like myself) is just fascinated with this strange time in our lives, especially because we are experiencing it alongside many of our friends, and it is most entertaining to observe how we all deal with it.
Not all of her stories deal specifically with the topic of parenthood or marriage; “Lamb” is about a waitress with an animalistic urge to teach her sleazy boss a lesson, and it was fun to read because I had no idea where it was going to take me. But it’s obvious that Young feels comfortable in the realm of the relationship, and this is where her storytelling truly shines.