“I think ‘quirky’ is a term that’s used to dismiss work, in particular by women, that’s challenging or hard to categorize”
– Anna Leventhal, Montreal Gazette
In an interview with the Montreal Gazette, Anna Leventhal discusses her short story collection Sweet Affliction, and why she definitively does not want to be called quirky:
“Quirky’ makes your work seem safe and a bit narcissistic. It implies weird for weird’s sake, a kind of toothless and uncritical weird…. I don’t know, it just sounds like something you call the female protagonist of a sitcom written exclusively by men, who’s kind of dizzy and has a lot of failed art projects made out of pipe cleaners around her house, who can never seem to get it together, but always looks cute and charming while she’s flailing around. ‘What a quirky gal!’ ”
Equal parts tender and darkly funny, some of Sweet Affliction’s stories, like “Moving Day”, in which everyone is forced by civic law to move on July 1st, use elements of the surreal and the satirical to expose the very real anxieties that are an everyday part of city living. Leventhal’s Montreal is populated by an impressive range of narrative voices; from a teenage lesbian to a brain tumour patient and beyond.
It’s also refreshing that Leventhal manages to paint a recognizable portrait of the city without idealizing it, explaining:
“Montreal’s a hard place to write sometimes, because it wants to romanticize itself.”
To hear Anna read and take part in the discussion, come to “Shame: A Fictional Exploration”“Shame: A Fictional Exploration” on Day 3 of Off the Page at 5605 Ave du Gaspe, #106 at 2:30 pm.