Like the many surfaces of a gemstone, the varied aspects of human experience link the short stories in this collection, titled Aspects of Nature. Themes of finding one’s identity; conflicts of family, career and romance; loneliness, death, loss, and feelings of displacement; youth and aging; courage and fear; human frailty; spirituality; compassion and manifestations of evil, all are at the heart of this collection. Of the eleven stories, the one bearing the collection’s name presents a satirical microcosm of our fragmented contemporary society, a candle-lit dinner party of six disparate guests at a Canadian cottage on an isolated island in the middle of a lake at the height of a Gothic storm. The remaining stories show aspects of nature in their diverse guises: a brilliant concert pianist courageously asserts life over evil; in a satirical affirmation of self, a middle-aged woman confronts a plastic surgeon urging a face lift; an elderly woman, trapped in her role as a mother and grandmother, offers an amusing, account of her inability to assert to her family what it is she desires; a seventy-year-old woman on her death bed makes plans for her next dinner party; a Holocaust survivor fashions random natural objects into sculptures, determined to impose order out of chaos; a forty-something woman finally confronts her doctor and, by extension, the male medical profession; an aging woman laments her loss of memory, her home, independence, youth, beauty; another, faces societal changes she no longer understands; a young pianist is conflicted by love for her master teacher; a young mother, forever explaining her husband and sons each to the other, seeks to fathom where her own self has disappeared.
“These stories show a rare and sympathetic nature at work. Each carves its own world in language, the mordant humour omnipresent but never intrusive, the dialogue at times pitch perfect (a rare gift). The stories are memorable for the insights, images, beauty that they capture and convey in words. These are infinitely human stories (death is never very far from any of the character’s thoughts) with perhaps memory, mutability, mortality, the most central of their concerns. With the publication of this book, Canadian literature gains a fresh, new voice, a voice to be listened to and praised. Bravo, as they say in that art of all arts.”
—Matthew Corrigan, Senior Scholar, Professor Emeritus, Humanities and Creative Writing, York University
“These stories are a treat: by turns tart and sweet, they investigate with a trenchant eye the landscapes of memory and of loss and the eternal quest for identity.”
—Rick Archbold, writer
“I have been immensely impressed with the intelligence and subtlety of Rhoda’s work. I do urge that it be given a serious reading. I can guarantee it will be worth your while.”
—Janette Turner Hospital