Contrary to stereotypes about millennials becoming illiterate, twenty-somethings do read and write – a lot. What some lack is confidence face-to-face. Meaningful human connection: like agency in the sixties or career success in the eighties, it’s what a lot of us strive for. For young writers, storytelling – honed, perhaps, through online chatting as much as writing workshops – can lead to interpersonal connection.
Take Metatron. This publisher grew out of a reading series hosted by its eventual editors, Ashley Opheim and Guillaume Morissette, in Montreal’s cafe-bars. These events were as much about building a social community as a creative one. Sofia Banzhaf’s Pony Castle and Fawn Parker’s Looking Good and Having a Good Time, like all Metatron books, would make appealing public reading. Banzhaf’s novella and Parker’s story collection are speed reads – Pony Castle is forty-four pages, Looking Good, sixty-one – and their conversational prose, as if written for wandering attentions, brims with aggression, humour, surprise, and sarcasm.
Looking Good and Having a Good Time is breezier in tone, its dark edges submerged in self-effacing humour. Parker makes fun of her generation, and of contemporary literature. The title of one of the four stories, “Doreen, Doreen,” is taken from a scene where the protagonist sifts through submissions to the Alien Baby Anthology:
Another submission is titled ‘Photo of My Ass’ and the document is empty.
The last submission is called ‘Untitled,’ containing only:
In the next scene,
Heather O’Neill is reading at Monument-National. I show up with no clothes on and sit at the bar. A man is on stage holding a wooden moose, saying, It’s a give and take.
John Travolta comes over and sits behind me at the bar. He writes on a napkin: I want to fuck you.
Looking Good and Having a Good Time
The mind of a self-doubting young person is a tiresome place to be (for both the protagonists and the reader), so it’s hard to imagine these books sustaining their prose for much longer than their short page counts. These books are the right size, although such short books are unusual. Also rare, regrettably, are stories by and about young women testing their independence, conveyed through the form of independent literature. That’s reason enough to read these books. mRb