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About this book
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These are short stories about people who harbour relics from their past: a postcard from Vienna, the cigarette burns that scar a boy's chest, a stolen USB pen, blue concentration camp numbers tattooed on a forearm, a man's sense of his own body as his HIV overtakes him. Alice Zorn’s remarkable debut collection displays these talismans of personal history and transforms them into extraordinary stories about relationships between partners, family, friends, and strangers.
• Shortlisted for the McAuslan First Book Prize, Quebec Writer's Federation
"It's a treat to encounter a writer so keenly aware that writing and reading are a creative continuum. ... The titular Ruins and Relics closes the book. A story of fractious love spun in new directions by the challenges of a holiday in Tunisia, it blends shimmering visuals with a nuanced probing of yawning cultural divides. Even better, it never reads like a travelogue tweaked into fiction."
"In Ruins & Relics, Zorn delivers a strong showing and promises to be a Canadian writer to watch." full review
“I love the range of these stories, the sense of complete worlds, the way the author quietly and remorselessly closes in on her characters. There is a crack in everything, and Alice Zorn finds it.”
"Zorn leaves you wanting just one more story, and the end of the book comes all too quickly."
"She speaks from the perspectives of both genders and various 'orientations', with the confused uncertainty of the young and the resigned wisdom of the aged. She depicts the assurance of the connected and the frailty of isolation not merely with empathy, but as if she had been each of these people. The result is like the performance of a musician who plays jazz and bluegrass and European folksongs, all in an identifiable and personal style … There is little in any of these stories that should be ignored or discarded; details come to us as they do in life, not strictly necessary to our understanding, but in some way enriching to it."
"... a collection of 11 well-crafted and deliberate stories ... this collection is recommended for all those who admire the beauty of the short-story form. These are vivid and authentic characters brought to life with Zorn's deft talent."
"Zorn has the rare ability to depict vivid settings—whether it be a library or an exotic land like Tunisia—and characters, making them jump off the page and into the reader’s mind."
“Montreal writer Alice Zorn’s Ruins and Relics (NeWest Press 2009) is a collection of intense stories that hold you on a precipice and reveal perspectives fascinating and dangerous. Each story differs utterly from the others in terms of character, location and what is at stake… These stories shift our judgment and strip our expectations. They are composed with artistry and a heart that is calculating, oblique and lovely. Zorn won Prairie Fire’s 2006 fiction contest, and Ruins and Relics was shortlisted for the Quebec Writers’ Federation’s McAuslan First Book Prize.”