Blisse has guarded the family secret her entire childhood—no one can know the origin of her unconventional birthday gifts. Her mother, Ina, has insisted that Blisse never tell a soul, believing it’s the only way to keep her daughter safe from a dire fate. Together, they must sift through their own versions of the past to understand how the secret has led to the unravelling of their lives. Chock-full of masks and curses, art and magic, seduction and spoons, their stories are fraught with misdirection and awash in whimsy. Can their revelations negate a tragic prediction? Or is the dissolution of love and family inevitable?
About the author
Autumn, One Spring is Patti Grayson's first novel. A popular book clubs selection, it was short listed for The Margaret Laurence Award for Fiction and the Mary Scorer Award for Best Book by a Manitoba Publisher at the 2011 Manitoba Book Awards. Her short fiction collection, Core Samples (Turnstone Press, 2004), also garnered nominations for two Manitoba Book Awards. Patti has worked as a school librarian, advertising copywriter, puppeteer, and actor. She lives near Winnipeg, Manitoba.
Excerpt: The Twistical Nature of Spoons (by (author) Patti Grayson)
The hunt for loose change in the bottom of my backpack is not primarily driven by hunger, but by my craving for the sensation of hard metal pressed against my fingertips – metal that is not formed into a spoon. I will not touch the spoon. It is difficult to deny myself its comfort. It beckons. I resist. I have no intention of reaching into my parka pocket to be assuaged by its calming influence. I might never touch the spoon again. Perhaps, in the spring, I will donate my coat back to the second-hand store without first emptying it of any personal belongings. Who would suffer more from the loss of the cheap souvenir? Ina? Or me?
The quarters and dimes feel sweaty in my palm. I debate whether I should be wasting them, but then deposit their sum into the vending machine. At least there is the reward of the slide and clink, the accompanying ka-thump as the spiral coil releases my D4 choice into the lower trough. As I retrieve my purchase, I think to myself, this confection is real. This candy bar is chocolate and nuts and caramel, not a concoction of subterfuge and fabrications. As I settle onto a vacant waiting-room chair, I delay unwrapping the treat. I rifle through my backpack again to locate a pot of cherry lip gloss and apply the dregs. Accosting me are stomach-churning wafts of disinfectant, the flickering of the muted television set, and the thinlyveiled code announcements spewing from the intercom. I would prefer them vanished.
Nevertheless, I will sit and wait in their midst, even if it takes all night and necessitates skipping my Brit-Lit lecture and French lab in the morning. And when my mother begins her story – my story – I will hear her out this time, listen to her full explanation. I can control my inner seething long enough to listen.
The problem is that now – not only do I expect Ina to address my bewilderment with respect to the fiasco she created with the spoons – she also must explain why she insisted on scrambling into the back of an ambulance with a complete stranger. Especially since the man appeared to be raising his voice at her in protest right before he collapsed. My mother keeps to herself at the best of times, so why would she feel responsible for a random individual who shows up at her opening? Unless he is an art critic and she was trying to woo his favour. But if his judgements and responses are that intense and overblown, who would pay attention to him anyway? It is not as if Ina’s work requires a shock-value disclaimer like some trauma-inducing performance-art installation. At worst, some of my mother’s pieces might gently haunt you when you close your eyes at night. So, what was his complaint?
Ina must have lied to the paramedics to be allowed to accompany the man. Some cockandbull story! But crazed invention is, after all, my mother’s specialty. Which begs the question, why am I sitting in this hospital waiting room expecting her to provide me with a truthful explanation? Odds are Ina’s story will be questionable at best. It would be better for me to try and answer my own questions.
I debate removing the wrapper from the chocolate bar, anticipating that the sweetness might just sit in my stomach like a stone. As I dither, I do not notice the nurse approaching until she touches my shoulder.
“Excuse me. Blisse? Are you Blisse Trove?” she asks.