Prepare to be pleasantly confused by Angélique Lalonde’s lauded collection of weird and wonderful short stories, Glorious Frazzled Beings, shortlisted for the 2021 Scotiabank Giller Prize. With visceral and immersive storytelling, Lalonde explores fragments of human experience both tender and unpleasant, revealing our most frazzled — and glorious — traits that make us who we are.

Prepare to be pleasantly confused by Angélique Lalonde’s lauded collection of weird and wonderful short stories, Glorious Frazzled Beings, shortlisted for the 2021 Scotiabank Giller Prize. With visceral and immersive storytelling, Lalonde explores fragments of human experience both tender and unpleasant, revealing our most frazzled — and glorious — traits that make us who we are.

Separated into four movements, all highlighting different aspects of home and belonging, Glorious Frazzled Beings is both simple and spellbinding. In the first movement, Homemaking, one character explores a secret, spectral town locked in time, while another is adopted by a futuristic, fantasy world where humans, androids and animals live in harmony. While one character observes a curious, foraging neighbour that might just be a ghost, still another discovers the fallout of her mother’s posthumous online dating profile. Full of whimsy, this first movement invites us to marvel in the mundane and muse over the mystery of life, showcasing how we create identity and sink into who, what, and where we are.

House of Anansi</p><p>Angélique Lalonde’s latest collection explores fragments of human experience, both tender and unpleasant, in spiritual yet grounded writing.</p>

House of Anansi

Angélique Lalonde’s latest collection explores fragments of human experience, both tender and unpleasant, in spiritual yet grounded writing.

Housekeeping, the second movement, is less fanciful and more grounded, less whimsical and more wistful. Through vivid vignettes, Lalonde picks apart the different ways life slowly and inevitably drains away like colour leeches from a painting left in the rain. Relationships between parents and children are complicated, emotions muddy and muddled. Every mother has sacrificed and suffered, resenting their children for stealing a part of their existence. On the flipside, children find their parents mediocre, flawed and sometimes repugnant. With each story, we see how little pieces of us are chipped away by circumstance or eroded over time, and how we glue and tape ourselves back together.

The third movement, Home Breaking, reveals a dark and often dirty side of humanity. If Housekeeping uncovers our piecemeal remedies that allow us to keep ourselves whole, Home Breaking delves into the tragedies that shatter us completely. Here, Lalonde looks at generational trauma, homelessness, addiction, toxic relationships and unmet expectations with unflinching honesty. Each character is hurting and each story is haunting.

The final movement, Homing, examines how we put ourselves back together again, whether despite or because of lack, loss, longing and brokenness. Just as one character is able to tap into an art form connecting her to the spirit world, another collects carpets with which he patches up his home and his soul. All told, Lalonde weaves together different threads to create a tapestry that shows how we’re all missing a little something. Just like a cracked porcelain cup, none of us moves through life unscathed and emerges unbroken. And, while we’re all delicate and damaged, that doesn’t diminish how treasured we are.

Finding brilliance among the bizarre doesn’t always come easy, and Glorious Frazzled Beings is often more frazzled than glorious. Though frequently disjointed and often entirely odd, this collection certainly captures Lalonde’s talent of spiritual yet grounded writing.

There’s magic here, but it doesn’t sparkle like Hollywood’s version of magic. Instead, it glimmers and flickers in the periphery, but is perhaps a deeper, more genuine magic.

Katrina Sklepowich is a lover of all things literary, and creator of the Literally, Katrina podcast and blog at LiterallyKatrina.com.

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