BOBCAT AND OTHER STORIES
At turns heartbreaking and wise, tender and wry, Bobcat and Other Stories establishes Rebecca Lee as one of the most powerful and original voices in Canadian literature.
A university student on her summer abroad is offered the unusual task of arranging a friend's marriage. Secret infidelities and one guest's dubious bobcat-related injury propel a Manhattan dinner party to its unexpected conclusion. Students at an elite architecture retreat seek the wisdom of their revered mentor but end up learning more about themselves and one another than about their shared craft.
In these acutely observed and scaldingly honest stories Lee gives us characters who are complex and flawed, cracking open their fragile beliefs and exposing the paradoxes that lie within their romantic and intellectual pursuits. Whether they're in the countryside of the American Midwest, on a dusty prairie road in Saskatchewan, or among the skyscrapers and voluptuous hills of Hong Kong, the terrain is never as difficult to navigate as their own histories and desires.
t was the terrine that got to me. I felt queasy enough that I had to sit in the living room and narrate to my husband the brutal list of tasks that would result in a terrine: devein, declaw, decimate the sea and other animals, eventually emulsifying them into a paste which could then be riven with whole vegetables. It was like describing to somebody how to paint a Monet, how to turn the beauty of the earth into a blurry, intoxicating swirl, like something seen through the eyes of the dying. Since we were such disorganized hosts, we were doing a recipe from Food and Wine called the Quick-Start Terrine. A terrine rightfully should be made over the course of two or three days—heated, cooled, flagellated, changed over time in the flames of the ever-turning world—but our guests were due to arrive within the hour.
Of the evening’s guests I was most worried about the Donner-Nilsons, whom my husband called the Donner-Blitzens. I had invited them about a month ago, before it had begun to dawn on me that one half of the couple—Ray Nilson—was having an affair with a paralegal at work, a paralegal so beautiful it was hard to form any other opinions of her. I suppose Ray felt in her presence something that seemed to him so original that he had to pay attention even if he had a wife and a small baby at home.
My friend Lizbet was also coming, and I had filled her in on the situation, making her promise that she would reveal nothing at the dinner, even with her eyes. “My eyes?” she had said, innocently. Lizbet was so irrepressible that I could imagine her raising her eyebrows very slowly for Ray’s wife, darting them suddenly over to...
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“Rebecca Lee is a great writer, and this is a great collection, so alive to itself that it made my skin buzz. Most stories are domesticated, pacing along step by step, but Lee's roam and dart like wild things and yet somehow wind up exactly where they intended to go. They are ardent, wayward, vigilant, heartbreaking, and, amidst all the trouble they explore, mysteriously funny.”
— Kevin Brockmeier, author of The Brief History of the Dead
“Alternately poignant, searingly intelligent, and laugh-out-loud funny, the stories in Rebecca Lee’s Bobcat will have you torn between two impulses: the impulse to reread an exquisite sentence again and again, in order to appreciate its clear, sharp prose and surprising imagery, and the impulse to race ahead, eager to find out what happens next.”
— Johanna Skibsrud, Scotiabank Giller Prize-winning author of The Sentimentalists
“They are all centered on unique and arresting set-pieces and showcase astonishing prose…Lee writes with an unflinching eye toward the darkest and saddest aspects
of life, often finding humor where least expected. This fresh, provocative collection, peerless in its vehement elucidation of contemporary foibles, is not to be missed.
—Publishers Weekly, starred review