Friday, September 22, 2017



It's not even noon and I've just read Pockets, Cobourg, Ontario's Stuart Ross' latest published oeuvre. At least, I think it's his latest, but I could be wrong given the rate at which this guy publishes stuff. Something new may have been released in the hour since I closed the book and poured myself another cup of coffee. What was that? Oh, just another Stuartwork in the works: a poem dribbling off the edge of the table; a short story clinging for its life to the overhead fan, where even the fan is a fan, or perhaps a tale of what it's like to survive and survive and survive in an industry that sometimes behaves like a huckster at a country fair, you know the kind, step right up and fire a dart at a balloon and if you pop it you win a prize that is worth less than the cost of admission.

(I know. I don't usually write like this, but you try spending some time in the wonderful world of Stuart and see if it doesn't change your way of looking at and writing down the world.)

Pockets might be called a micro-novel. To begin with, the book itself is small. Hand-friendly, you might say. Perfect, in fact, for a pocket or a purse. 

It's only eighty pages long, and every page contains enough white space to make my poetheart sing. Because it's so small in size every word on each of those pages has to do a lot of heavy-lifting. 

The shortest page

The longest page

So if it's a novel, it tells a story, right? Pockets is a memento mori that's loaded with moments of magic realism, a genre made popular by Latin American writers like Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Canadian ones like Thomas Wharton. It opens with the narrator's brother observed to be floating outside a window and ends with the narrator walking off set, as it were, and into the clouds. In between we're treated to a kaleidoscope of snapshots; Archie and Cowsills comic books, Danny Kaye movies, The Flintstones, Herman's Hermits, the JFK assassination and more all warrant a mention. 

The overall sense I'm left with from the story is one of great tenderness. A mother's hand gentle on a forehead. The narrator and his friend, Marky, playing when they were kids. All the trials and joys that make up a life. And through it all there are observant little gems like, "Back on earth, some people didn't have houses. Meanwhile, some houses didn't have people."

I'm glad there's a house in Cobourg that has a Stuart in it.

Stuart Ross
Pockets is published by ECW Press out of Toronto. ECW stands for Entertainment, Culture and Writing, which pretty much sums up what you'll find in this lovely little book.


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