The Drifts by Thom Vernon
Posted by Pearl
FictionTuesday, September 20th, 2011
The Drifts takes on four people giving everything they’ve got to carve the lives they want over one night, in a mean blizzard, over three hours, in small-town Arkansas.
There’s Julie, a middle-aged pregnant mom who doesn’t want another child; her husband, Charlie, who wants a second chance at being a dad; Wilson, Charlie’s lover and best friend and Dol, a trans-dad, without health insurance, who just might meet a doctor this night who can help him complete his gender change. These four paths collide and collude with memory, history and the storm to shove the four towards a breath-taking and startling conclusion.
~ “If you like Carson McCuller’s then you’ll love The Drifts” ~ Patricia Dawn Robertson, The Globe & Mail
Written from four, distinct points of view The Drifts embraces the Southern-Gothic tradition with suspense and humour. It takes on gender roles and how we all make our way in the extraordinary but altogether mundane events of our lives. If moving forward in our lives were a storm, a storm of progress, the wreckage from that storm would be what these four people struggle against.
Their very different voices converge as the blizzard gathers force, their stories violently mapping in the snow the ways that memory, gender, and history carve themselves upon our bodies. The Drifts is dexterously told, a cacophony of four affecting voices melding into one exquisite chord.
Gender, History and Memory are themes that Thom Vernon re-imagines repeatedly in creative and critical writing. Writing, he says, has brought him full-circle from those early days as a young actor (Seinfeld, The Fugitive, etc.) and allowed him to understand and be situated in an ever-expanding site in which he can stand.
Praise for The Drifts
~ “Magnificent . . . Vernon has a masterful ability to develop and shape authentic characters trapped by identity, betrayal, geography and love.” ~ The Globe & Mail
~ “…a taut suspense propels The Drifts. Weather is a harbinger here, the raging snowstorm, the ‘sullen ocean of Arkansas night … the fomenting sky exploding down upon us’ an ominous portent of what is in store for the story’s central quartet…” ~ The New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal
~ ”a wonderful and compelling novel that is both difficult to put down, and at times, emotionally painful to endure.” ~ James Onusko, Arthur Magazine
~ “What Toronto author Thom Vernon doesn’t reveal upfront he unfurls in an entrancing display in subsequent pages.” ~ Kate Wallace, The Telegraph-Journal
Notes from Thom Vernon
I’m often asked where did the book come from? That’s not easy to answer. I surrender to the processes of writing, researching and performance. I feel most comfortable in front of a blank page or in front of an audience. (In front of a sheet of warm croissants isn’t too bad either.) I think that books, as objects and as pieces of literature, are containers of entire worlds only accessible through a literary imagination. They exist to create structures and spaces into which a reader can enter and experience for themselves.
So where did this book come from? When I was first asked this, immediately I thought of all the stories my aunts told me about growing up in small-town, rural Arkansas in the twenties and thirties. All those stories entered the soup of my imagination and out came The Drifts. The book is not a re-telling of those stories but is informed by them.
After the initial phase of book promotion was finished, I explored this question critically. That process led me to present at an international, interdisciplinary conference Double Dialogues at the University of Toronto. Out of that presentation, I was invited to develop the ideas further into two different scholarly articles. These will be published next year in separate anthologies. One chapter deals specifically with where does The Drifts come from? and the second, the role of creative writing in our neo-liberal culture.
When asked why writing in general matters, and why, in particular, his writing matters, Thom Vernon responded, “Not to go all Heidegger on you, but it’s because I care about it. That’s all. It’s neither more nor less significant than that. If what matters to me, matters to you we might come together inside of some pages.” One of the questions I like to ask writers is “what charms them,” and this response charmed me.
Read the BookClubBuddy.com INTERVIEW with Thom Vernon
Read a REVIEW of The Drifts, by Brenda Brooks
Read an online excerpt from The Drifts
Visit Thom Vernon’s WEBSITE
Read the Coach House Books INTERVIEW with Thom Vernon
Short URL: http://www.bookclubbuddy.com/?p=3242