Bridge in the Rain by Bianca LakoseljacBridge in the Rain by Bianca Lakoseljac

Bridge in the Rain

byBianca Lakoseljac

Paperback | October 1, 2010

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BiancaLakoseljac's collection of stories Bridge in the Rain, linked by an inscription on a bench in High Park, is precise and elegant, shot through with the element of surprise as she gently but firmly pushes the boundaries between reality and the supernatural: a narrator becomes a sperm-donor substitute for Vincent van Gogh, and his fate converges with the mad painter's through the barrel of a revolver; a blow-up doll becomes The Perfect Woman and resolves narrator Lila's tedious marriage; a little girl is befriended by the characters in her books. In this delightful collection, Bianca has found her literary voice in the ordinariness of lives touched and transformed by magic -- Elizabeth Abbott
The recipient of the Matthew Ahern Memorial Award in Literature, Bianca Lakoseljac is the author of a collection of poetry, Memoirs of a Praying Mantis, published in 2009. Her writing has appeared in journals and anthologies such as Canadian Woman Studies and Canadian Voices. Bridge in the Rain, stories linked by an inscription on a pa...

interview with the author

Local author draws inspiration from chance encounter

Local author draws inspiration from chance encounter. Bianca Lakoseljac sits on the very bench in High Park that inspired the stories in her latest work, Bridge in the Rain, which will launch next month. Courtesy photo

 

A chance encounter with an elderly gentleman on a bench in High Park one fall afternoon in 2005 inspired one of the seven short stories that are part of author Bianca Lakoseljac's latest book, Bridge in the Rain, that launches next month.

Lakoseljac, a Gothic Avenue resident, mother of two and an educator at Ryerson University and Humber College, had just cancelled her latest teaching contract due to an illness and for the first time in a long time found herself able to indulge in her passion.

"I had had surgery and fortunately, things turned out well for me and I had some free time on my hands," said Lakoseljac in an interview Friday afternoon, Oct. 22.

And so, on that bench she sat, a pile of papers on her knees, writing frantically as if nothing else in the world existed. That is until the elderly gentleman came walking by with his dog on a leash.

"I looked up. 'You're sitting on my favourite bench,' he said. 'Do you mind if I sit down and share the bench?' I felt as if I'd known this man, as if he was an old friend," said Lakoseljac. "I tried to get back to my writing, but then we looked at each other and laughed. He introduced himself - Gordi Munro, he spelled it out for me because it was spelled unconventionally - and we started to talk. He wanted to tell me his life story."

Munro spoke of the difficulties he faced as a black officer in the Canadian Navy, he pulled out pictures of his wife and children and talked about what it was like being married to a white woman.

"We talked for two hours," said Lakoseljac. "I asked him if I could write a story about his life. We got together one or two times after that."

When the story was completed, Lakoseljac wanted to double-check that her facts were correct and so she called Munro's home only to find out from his wife that he had passed away.

"Jane said Gordi would have loved seeing his story in print," she said.

"Gordi" now appears in Bridge in the Rain as the foreward to the book. The remaining six stories are about women during a pivotal time in their lives whether it is recovering from a crisis or making a new career choice. All the stories are linked by an inscription on the park bench, part of a poem by William Wordsworth.

Bridge in the Rain is Lakoseljac's second book. The first was a collection of poetry inspired by a sculpture in High Park.

"I love the area. I'm inspired by the local history," she said.

Born in the former Ugoslavia, Lakoseljac has spent almost 40 years in Toronto. Her two children, a son and a daughter are firefighters. She has written her entire life, but for many years, her career and family life took precedence.

"My grandmother used to take me around the village where I grew up and I would read to the elderly," said Lakoseljac. "I remember as a little girl creating a little booklet."

Her next novel is slated for release next year.

A Bridge in the Rain book launch takes place Nov. 30 at Ben McNally's Books in Toronto from 6 p.m. to 8.

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Title:Bridge in the RainFormat:PaperbackDimensions:142 pages, 8 × 5.03 × 0.42 inPublished:October 1, 2010Publisher:Guernica EditionsLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1550713310

ISBN - 13:9781550713312

Reviews

Rated 4 out of 5 by from A Toronto gem A Toronto gem--with a great sense of time and place. Stories come with unexpected twists and turns that truly convey the art of storytelling at its best. A must read not just for a Torontonian but for anyone who enjoys a good story.
Date published: 2012-05-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Absolutely great! Toronto’s High Park is right out of “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.” The characters are rich and vivid and seductive--and dangerously on the edge. Riveting stories with real life characters in sometimes surreal surroundings are told in a captivating yet seemingly effortless style. A wonderful read with characters larger than life. Definitely one of my favourites
Date published: 2010-12-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great read! A great read. Set in Toronto, the book takes the reader into the lives of seven people who, although unaware of each other’s existence, are interconnected by ten words of a plaque on a High Park bench. The book relishes the unusual. I love magic realism and I loved these stories, particularly The Perfect Woman. Then I read Bridge in the Rain, and now I see Van Gogh’s painting in a different light. This one really grabbed me. Every story offers up a surprise — love that can be smouldering, fiery or vengeful and sometimes even quirky. There is betrayal and heartbreak. A new look at Emily Carr, Norval Morrisseau, James McDonald… And the exhilaration of finding fulfillment in what you have, and not in what you desire. Elements of the supernatural really drew me into some of the stories. This is a good mix of stories. And now I have a mission—to find this bench.
Date published: 2010-11-13

Editorial Reviews

 1. “Years ago, laid low by illness, Bianca Lakoseljac became a writer. “For the first time in my life,” she writes, “I owned a slice of life that suddenly seemed my own, unclaimed, free to use in any way I wanted.” Lakoseljac used that freedom to seek out stories both inspired and linked by an inscription – “Of memory, images, and precious thoughts/That shall not die” – on her favourite bench in High Park. Her writing, precise and elegant, is shot through with the element of surprise as she gently but firmly pushes the boundaries between reality and the supernatural: a narrator becomes a sperm-donor substitute for Vincent van Gogh, and his fate converges with the mad painter’s through the barrel of a revolver; a blow-up doll becomes The Perfect Woman and resolves narrator Lila’s tedious marriage; a little girl is befriended by the characters in her books. In this delightful collection, Bianca Lakoseljac has found her literary voice in the ordinariness of lives touched and transformed by magic.” Elizabeth Abbott, author of A History of Celibacy, A History of Mistresses, A History of Marriage, and Sugar: A Bittersweet History.   2. "Bianca Lakoseljac writes with precise lyricism and effortless grace. She is able to seamlessly weave together themes of domestic trauma, grief, loss and mysticism and has created a world in which the thunder of the Gardiner Expressway co-exists with the most subtle of feelings and the most magical of escapes. A lovely collection." Paul Butler, author of Stoker’s Shadow, Easton, Easton’s Gold, NaGeira, 1982, Hero, and Cupids.