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The Chrome Suite

by Sandra Birdsell

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small town & rural, black humor, literary
list price: $19.99
category: Fiction
published: 2002
imprint: Emblem Editions
  • Short-listed, Governor General's Literary Awards - Fiction
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Set in Manitoba, Sandra Birdsell’s spellbinding novel reaches back nearly four decades into the life of scriptwriter Amy Barber. In a journey shadowed by the future and the past, Amy travels by car from Toronto to Winnipeg with her younger lover, and reconstructs the events that brought her to where she is today. As the narrative moves from a small town during one extraordinarily hot summer at the close of the fifties when a death changes everything, to the sixties and seventies when Amy marries, goes to live in the city, and begins to have reason to fear for her young son’s well-being, Sandra Birdsell uncovers the inadvertent damage that can be done within the most well-meaning of families. Vivid, darkly humorous, erotic, The Chrome Suite is an emotionally charged story of darkness and light that evokes the sometimes dangerous territory of the past.

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Contributor notes

Sandra Birdsell was born in Manitoba and, until recently, has spent most of her life in Winnipeg. Her first novel, The Missing Child (1989), won the W.H. Smith/Books in Canada First Novel Award. Her second novel, The Chrome Suite (1992), and her most recent collection of short fiction, The Two-Headed Calf (1997), were both shortlisted for the Governor General’s Award for Fiction. Her two previous short story collections, Night Travellers and Ladies of the House, were reissued in 1987 as Agassiz Stories. Her most recent novel, The Russländer (2001), won the Saskatchewan Book Award for Fiction, the Saskatchewan Book Award for Book of the Year, and the Regina Book Award, and was a finalist for the Giller Prize.

Sandra Birdsell’s fiction has been anthologized and has appeared in literary journals and Saturday Night magazine.

She lives in Regina.

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Editorial Review

"A miraculous novel.…Birdsell tightly controls the rich detail, the intense emotions of her story. . . ."
Globe and Mail
“Part testimony, part remembrance, part discovery, The Chrome Suite goes inside out to tell a story of loss and remembrance.”
Quill & Quire
“This novel has the power of all uncompromising fiction; Sandra Birdsell’s hard-edged, accurate prose and her unfailingly intelligent observations of the way people live are deeply satisfying to read.…”
Winnipeg Free Press
“A masterful novel, which places her among the best of Canadian writers today.”
Montreal Gazette

“The human landscape and the complexities of relationships ring true. Birdsell’s ability to enter the hearts of her characters keeps us hooked.”
Calgary Herald
“A fluid quality to Birdsell’s prose bids you move ever onward, even into dark and menacing corners where unseen forces bind families, make them crackle with tension, make them unravel. She is that rarity, a consistently interesting writer with an original voice.…As Margaret Atwood captured the tensions that divide young girls in Cat’s Eye, so Birdsell explores the tensions – sexual, emotional, territorial – that fill Amy Barber’s house.…The Chrome Suite seems to have been written from some deep, dark well of inspiration.”
Books in Canada
“The writing is always a joy, the kind that slows the reader down to savour every vivid moment.”
Quill & Quire
“A passionate exploration of loss, betrayal, death, and the heartless whimsy of fate.…The writing is masterful. There is an uncompromising ferocity and harsh power to this author’s work.”
Canadian Book Review Annual

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