July 3, 2020

20° C, Overcast

Full Forecast


Help us deliver reliable news during this pandemic.

We are working tirelessly to bring you trusted information about COVID-19. Support our efforts by subscribing today.

No Thanks Subscribe

Already a subscriber?


Advertise With Us

Stories' poetic prose create a tapestry of intimate moments

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 24/10/2014 (2078 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Accomplished writer Matt Rader's new book of short stories entitled What I Want to Tell Goes Like This marks the Kelowna author's move from poetry, a genre in which he is celebrated, to prose.

It's evident in this collection of 15 stories that he has not moved far from his poetic beginnings; many of his stories feel like heavily edited prose poems that leave the reader feeling a bit short-changed. However, the best of them recall the hazy expression of a dream or a memory that can only be articulated in flashes.

What is clear is that Rader's talents for examining intimate moments, which he does expertly in his poetry, transfer easily to this collection.

The stories in What I Want to Tell Goes Like This weave well-drawn places and moments in time together in order to create a unique tapestry of human experience. Set predominantly in B.C.'s Comox Valley, Rader's collection tackles issues of violence, labour unrest, death, love, the loss of that love and sexuality. The longest stories in the collection concern labour strikes in the valley in the early 20th century, the legacy of which heavily informs the motivations, behaviours and destinies of the characters who inhabit the more contemporary stories.

The Children of the Great Strike, Vancouver Island, 1912-1914 tells of two young girls who are affected by the coal strike. Packed with numerous characters and historical anecdotes, the story begs to be made longer. Similarly, Grand Forks, 1917 introduces the reader to Albert Goodwin, a union worker and advocate, and Peter Vasilevich, a communist activist on the Prairies. Their meeting is awkward and stunted, but loaded with the legacy of immigration and the making of contemporary Canada.

Like many of the stories in the collection, these two most of all seem to be busting forth from the constraint of the short story, and from Rader's economical writing style.

This collection won't be for everyone. It has a remarkable fascination with masculinity, and with emotional, physical and sexual male violence against women and other men. It may be that Rader is attempting to trace the history of this violence, to explore the culture in which it is permitted to exist and even, in some cases, be fostered. But because many of his stories construct singular moments in time without much exposition, this important context is lost.

At the Lake, in particular, is a 2 1/2-page story that recounts the sexual assault of a woman by two men from the perspective of one of those men. If Rader is attempting to create snapshots of life without commentary or analysis, he has accomplished it devastatingly accurately here.

There are passages of Rader's book that cannot be underestimated, and moments of thoughtful poignance in his text that are packaged in stunning descriptive language. Bearing the Body, a story of a son taking care of his father during the last days of his life, is Rader's most beautiful accomplishment of this collection. It has the intentional economy of Hemingway, with the vulnerability and sensitivity of Alice Munro -- and yet there's something very particular to Rader's sensibility and sense of place that is unmistakably his.

Rader's attention to detail and his passion for the cataloguing of historical moments are obvious, and make What I Want to Tell Goes Like This a valuable addition to Canada's vibrant short-fiction canon.


Katelyn Dykstra Dykerman is a PhD student in the department of English, film and theatre at the University of Manitoba.


Advertise With Us

Your support has enabled us to provide free access to stories about COVID-19 because we believe everyone deserves trusted and critical information during the pandemic.

Our readership has contributed additional funding to give Free Press online subscriptions to those that can’t afford one in these extraordinary times — giving new readers the opportunity to see beyond the headlines and connect with other stories about their community.

To those who have made donations, thank you.

To those able to give and share our journalism with others, please Pay it Forward.

The Free Press has shared COVID-19 stories free of charge because we believe everyone deserves access to trusted and critical information during the pandemic.

While we stand by this decision, it has undoubtedly affected our bottom line.

After nearly 150 years of reporting on our city, we don’t want to stop any time soon. With your support, we’ll be able to forge ahead with our journalistic mission.

If you believe in an independent, transparent, and democratic press, please consider subscribing today.

We understand that some readers cannot afford a subscription during these difficult times and invite them to apply for a free digital subscription through our Pay it Forward program.


Updated on Saturday, October 25, 2014 at 8:27 AM CDT: Formatting.

The Free Press would like to thank our readers for their patience while comments were not available on our site. We're continuing to work with our commenting software provider on issues with the platform. In the meantime, if you're not able to see comments after logging in to our site, please try refreshing the page.

You can comment on most stories on The Winnipeg Free Press website. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

By submitting your comment, you agree to abide by our Community Standards and Moderation Policy. These guidelines were revised effective February 27, 2019. Have a question about our comment forum? Check our frequently asked questions.


Advertise With Us