gentle habit coverReviewed by Christine Smith McFarlane

Imagine as a little girl there’s a bead quarry in your elementary school yard.   No one knows where the beads come from, but take great delight in digging them up every day and collecting them. Never realizing that the beads come from an unlikely source- another girl who is classified as a misfit and a victim of fellow classmates bullying.

Or what about the mundane fellow who lives in a cockroach-infested bachelor apartment.  He is not only addicted to crack but addicted to words and finds pleasure in ripping up pieces of files at his equally boring job as a file clerk and eating words like they are actual pills to make himself high to get himself through the day. Within this story, one is drawn into how an addict’s brain can possibly work-wanting more and more but never being really satisfied. “The urge to pop each of them into my mouth is overwhelming. I want to suck on them, hear them clatter against my fillings like forks dropped into a sink.” The file clerk- Mr. Moriarty asks himself:  How can I carry out my job when I have taken to cannibalizing it?

A Gentle Habit follows the success of Metis writer Cherie Dimaline’s other two books Red Rooms and The Girl Who Grew A Galaxy and is a collection of six short stories that are characters trying to make it a world that they don’t necessarily fit into. Some of the stories leave you feeling sad, intrigued and have you feeling a myriad of other feelings as you delve into each new diverse character and balance delicately in the journey that each character takes you on.

A Gentle Habit by Cherie Dimaline Published by Kegedonce Press, 2015 ISBN 978-1-928120-02-5 , 178 pages.