I didn’t want to read Bow River. It had a tough spine, and I hate books with a tough spine. But it was a Christmas gift from my brother, and I like to read books that are given to me so I can thank the person and mean it. So I read it. And I owe my brother. Owe him something awesome, because Ivan E. Coyote hooked me from page one and held me the whole way through, and has me still I think.
Bow River, Coyote’s first novel, introduces the reader to Joey a year after his wife has left him for another woman. He is forced to take a vacation because his mother is threatening him with Prozac and he has a car that belongs to another man and he needs to return it. The novel covers a week in Joey’s life, and a week is not – not nearly – enough. He is a character so endearing and so honest that I’ve spent the last few days wondering whether by moving to a small town in Alberta I might find my own Joey. And it’s not just him! The characters that surround him are delightful and so perfectly drawn that I could imagine both exactly who they are and somehow still think of a dozen people they remind me of.
Let me now say something about short stories. I don’t read short stories. Not unless I have to. But I put down Bow River and immediately picked up Coyote’s 2000 collection, Close to Spider Man. My problem with short stories is that you just get a snippet. Just a little tease of a character or a plot, and then you’re cut off. I fall in love in that I really and truly care about well written characters, but with short stories I’m constantly being separated from the characters I have been introduced to. Happily, Coyote’s collection follows one woman and uses one (more or less) consistent narrative voice. I have every intention of going to the library tomorrow to check out the remaining three collections. Those I suppose I’d be wise to ration them, as there’s a good chance I’ll be sulky and sad when my available Coyote stock disappears. Or maybe I’ll take a break, read something else, and just let these two stunning works roll around in my head for awhile. In any event, let’s hope my string of excellent reads continues.