The Sweet Edge

The Sweet Edge - Alison Pick I devoured the entire novel in an on-again-off-again day's reading. It's not as though the plot is riveting (Ellen works in a trendy art gallery and Adam embarks on solo canoe trip in the Arctic): this is the stuff of ordinary life. (Well, some people's ordinary lives: not mine, but whatever.)

The Sweet Edge opens with this: "The little bell on the glass door tinkles and a woman enters the gallery." But despite the open door: these are not happy times.

In fact, things aren't quite right for Ellen and Adam from the moment, well from many moments before the story opens. It actually opens on unhappiness. In the galley, Ellen is ruminating:

"Ellen has been happy. How can she get back to that? Eight months ago is only eight months. If time lands here then it must have started somewhere. She must be able to trace it back. If someone can pass her the spool she will wind the whole year in again. She will put it in her pocket and take it home. She will unspool time to back before this happened, before it all went wrong."

There have been some misunderstandings and Ellen needs to spool back over quite some time. And she has plenty of time to do that because Adam is not there.

In fact, he could hardly wait to leave. "He wants to be out of here already. Toronto is a dry husk breaking open behind him. He is the new thing, emerging." And now he is on the road. "He could skip his heart across the flat water in front of him."

So, you's not fancy. And I picked it up shortly after publication and didn't connect with it; maybe that other time, that out-of-time, that wrong-time, the prose felt bare. Maybe the theme of finding-self-losing-self felt too-familiar. Maybe the characters felt too real.

But this time? The prose is stark yet perfectly formed. The style reflecting the spaces in which credible characters find and lose themselves. And, more than anything? It makes me want to see where Alison Pick went next.

(If you're interested, there is a somewhat longer review of this book on BuriedInPrint, here.)