Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Read an Excerpt from Carellin Brooks' One Hundred Days of Rain

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What's better than strolling through a bookstore, leafing through a book that has caught your eye? We're excited to offer an online version of that with an exclusive excerpt of One Hundred Days of Rain (BookThug) by Carellin Brooks here on Open Book.

Courtesy of BookThug, you can take a free peak at this hotly anticipated novel, which describes an unnamed narrator's atmospheric experience of rainy Vancouver in the wake of a painful breakup. Broken into 100 short sections of evocative prose, One Hundred Days of Rain has been praised for its "nerve" and "exquisite descriptions". Anyone who has ever had a broken heart is sure to find themselves in these rain-dampened pages.

Excerpt from One Hundred Days of Rain:

86.

When something is bad there comes a time when she needs it. When that sudden sick feeling in the stomach, that sudden gut sock, that sudden drop is like manna. When she doesn’t feel right unless she is reeling from another awful revelation. The poison like milk. She sucks it down from a tube and when the tube is taken away without warning, without notice she feels a sudden irrational sense of loss and panic as she blunders in its wake. The rain starts and she doesn’t even have sense to cover herself or get out of the way. She stumbles and lurches a great foolish baby, half-skinned, only partially formed.

She tells herself she can get used to the repeated stupid appearances at court, to the horrible accusations, to the looming up, apologetic but determined, of the next officer. This one, at the airport, enforcing an access order nobody was trying to evade. Your ex-wife, he’ll say, trying. She’ll interrupt: my wife. Might as well claim it for what it is, make the worst case possible. It’s a strategy, like chemotherapy.

She congratulates herself on perfecting her response to strangers who mention her marriage. Universally appro¬priate, she’d like to think. Wry smile. Oh that, she says. Oh her. Like it’s a joke, as if it matters that little to her. Inside she’s seething as usual, pot on the boil. The roiling, though she’d never acknowledge it, feels a little bit comforting, a little bit like something she knows.

She’s longing to talk about it, to go over it again & again like the tongue goes back to a bad tooth, but she thinks it’s only decent to pretend. A bad relationship, she tells herself sagely, everyone’s had them. So we were married. So what. Lots of people get married. Lots of times it doesn’t work out. The platitudes ring hollow. Secretly she feels her loss is tragic: singular & profound. Secretly she understands: this dissolution is a puzzle she is required to solve. A labyrinth within whose painted lines she consents to remain. Who did what to whom. Who was wrong, who was beyond the pale (M, of course, it’s obvious, can’t everyone see that?), whether in fact she was to blame. In any way. Whether she had been herself, or someone worse. And how exactly it all went wrong, at what moment their marriage stopped being a container with a few insignificant cracks, when it turned into a casualty. Could no longer hold water. These are questions she will have to answer, to somebody’s satis¬faction. Hers maybe.

She was so surprised when she saw a labyrinth for the first time: no maze of walls but simply a circle traced on the floor of a church hall, infinitely looping back on itself. She learned then that a labyrinth uses nothing to keep you in, except for your own steps stuck to the pattern.

Nurse stretches out a hand, takes hers, touches the circlet on her third finger. Why do you still wear this, Nurse asks. The answer obvious, to her at least. Because I’m still with M. Only half here. Nurse tucks her in, brings her drinks. She should tell her, say: You know this relationship — significant pause — Isn’t Going Anywhere. But she doesn’t. Too cruel. A different kind of cruelty, sin of omission, what she’s do¬ing now. Back to health. Mum’s the word on the nights she and Nurse are apart. Nights she can’t sleep, thinking of M.

So many betrayals. Blood under the bridge as her boss would say.

87.

Today rain only threatens. The newspaper says it will come later. Speckles on the glass: ghosts of old dirt or the precur¬sor of things to come, it’s hard to say.

Nurse I’m sick. Take my temperature. Intubate me Nurse. Nurse, feel my heart. Right here. Is it beating? How strong is the pulse, Nurse? How much time do I have left?

Nurse take me to your kind glass-walled condo. Carry me inside, in your strong arms.
Stagger under my weight. I need looking after, like a baby. I picked you for a reason. Can’t you see I’m sick, can’t you see what’s wrong with me? Can’t you tell? Bring the cart. Don’t send for the technician. I need you.

Is there anything you need, Nurse asks, passing the bed where she lies. The tall bed on its risers, in the tiny room. The chocolate comforter. Anything I can get you.

No. I’m fine, she says, and turns her face, resolute, to the wall.

88.

She imagines herself in another world. Downstairs. How their surroundings will shape them, how they will expand once they have the space to do so. She’ll buy furniture, she swears, she’ll look on Craigslist, maybe she’ll meet some¬one, when she goes to look at that midcentury sofa. Some¬one attractive. Maybe someone who doesn’t know about her, about her past, about all her mistakes. She’ll paint. She hasn’t painted but she can, why not, there’s no law, noth¬ing to stop her. In this eternally damp weather it’ll take a long time to dry but it doesn’t matter, she’ll keep the big windows she saw along one wall open, she’ll let it cure, or whatever it is paint does. The hardware store will know, they’ll sell her some paint that’s good for kids, that won’t kill them with its fumes. She’ll paint a nice, rosy pink, salmon coloured, so everything gets a warm glow. That’d be nice. Or, no, blue. Tiffany blue, that’s it. Her new place will look exactly like a jewel box, the kind you open with trepidation and delight. She’ll be expensive, that’s it. No greys. Nothing dark. Nothing to remind her of rain.

89.

Today it rained. Yesterday it rained. The day before it rained.

She stares out unseeing. Behind her she can feel the weight of the future, pressing down on the back of her neck. Have to call. Need to fix. Wipe and wrap. Her favourite word, organize.

So often anticipated, so never happening.

I’m moving, but I’m still here, she writes her friend finally, via email. Her friend, her brief ex.

The only one who ever said: I’m getting a desk.

What for? Her ex was a chef, all she needed was a kitchen.

For you. So when you come here, you can write.

Tomorrow it will rain again, she wants to tell her. The day after, more rain. And you know how it is: each day the rain ends up being different. Sullen rain. Rain that leaks out of the sky, like an orgasm out of a rock. Mean. Thin. Cold. Rain that lets go. Rain that opens up like a sluice, like inter¬nal organs sliding free. Slop and slip. Rain that starts, and stops, and starts again, and peters out, and finally whips it¬self into a . . . no. Rain that never commits.

Rain that should be committed, it’s so crazy.

I’m fine, she ends finally. How are you?

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