A Token Of My Affliction by Janette PlatanaA Token Of My Affliction by Janette Platana

A Token Of My Affliction

byJanette Platana

Paperback | December 3, 2014

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2015 Frank O'Connor International Short Story Prize
2016 English Language Trilium Book Award, Finalist

These cheerfully disturbing, gleefully outraged, and chillingly beautiful stories break open the lives of apparently ordinary people who struggle and sometimes succeed in living without compromise, refusing to sacrifice the world they sense to the world they see, and where things can be true without ever being real. The range of this accomplished and poetic voice may cause vertigo, owing, as it does, as much to the Clash to Stephen King, to Caitlin Moran as to Flannery O'Connor, and something to David Sedaris. A Token of My Affliction will make you laugh while breaking your heart wide open.
Janette Platana was born and raised in Saskatchewan and now lives in Peterborough, Ontario, where she writes, plays music, and makes short films.
Title:A Token Of My AfflictionFormat:PaperbackDimensions:200 pages, 8 × 5 × 0.5 inPublished:December 3, 2014Publisher:Tightrope Books, Inc.Language:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1926639758

ISBN - 13:9781926639758

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Rated 5 out of 5 by from New Author, Life-long Writer I've never read anything quite as raw as Janette Platana's first collection of short stories, A Token of My Affliction. Most debut authors heavily curate their list of published stories with the audience in mind, a succinct list to get people's attention for future work. Platana's 21 stories are short, powerful, and skirt on the edge of reality. They hit hard and fast and gave me the impression of a deep sleep where, on the surface it makes no sense, but when the layers are peeled back you find all your experiences have been recast. They are her stories, and you're welcome to come along for the ride. Platana's voice and her ideas are bold, I started the collection with reeling uncertainty and by the end I felt content and whole, full of deep questions that didn't really need answers. Her perspectives are not only diverse but also thorough, her voices range from young to old, humble to confident and entitled, sick to healthy, light-hearted to serious. Her characters shrink and grow emotionally with such leaps and bounds and it is nothing short of inspiring. Anyone reading this will close the pages knowing Janette Platana and what a rich and rewarding life she has had. I picked up the book, determined to finish it within a week, as I do most books, but I found that I was stopped dead in my tracks. This is not a bad thing! After reading the first story, Bloodlines, I was pulled in to the lives of Gail and Sophie and was hesitant to leave. Gail is a single mother and we meet her four years after she is diagnosed with cancer; Sophie is nine and struggling at school, and she's wont to run away to a clearing in the woods. I met them there and felt all their love and injustices. Three and a half pages, and they were gone. I was filled with that denial and heartache we all feel when we have to say goodbye to someone knowing we might never meet again. So I stared into space for a while and felt sad and beautiful. Luckily, the next story was Renee is Bewildered, which was bizarre and clever to say the least. I joined Renee in the recovery room post-labour, where she first meets her newborn son, Alfredo. Alfredo is not a normal baby; he's a suave, cultured multi-lingual baby that likes to quote The Odyssey and Plato, oh, and he has teeth. It made me admire Platana's ideas all the more because the premise is something we might all wonder in passing, but Platana never pushes ideas away. She told me she accepts "the contents of [her] imagination, welcoming images as though they have autonomy and deserve [her] respect." The strength of her writing is obvious, even without her explaining the secret to it. If I hadn't been lucky enough to attend a debut author book reading at McNally Books this summer, this collection would never have made its way onto my rickety bookshelf. Several authors read their work that night and yet it was Platana's reading from Invisible Friends that stood out for me. It was the black humour, but also the intriguing characters that grabbed me. The narrator, Liz has been seeing things since she can remember, from toys moving on their own to monsters lurking in the shadows and spraying graffiti. She's unshakable and grim, and describes her condition as though it were no more than an extra toe, that is until she has two children of her own. There's a growing sense of danger throughout the story until Hugh, her husband, takes on a much more significant role than Liz or even I had thought possible. Liz married him because she didn't see as many visions when she was with him, and to her that was good enough reason to love him. But he transforms from a barrier to Liz's childhood visions into an equal, a confidant and friend. I have to say, it's one story I keep going back to, and it brings a smile to my face every time. This is something you'll find often with Platana's stories, a grandiose story with a very simple message beneath it. When I've described the stories to people I know, they've focused on different aspects of the story than I did. I've always believed that this is the mark of a great writer – where the story can be returned to time and again with different results and new growth from the reader. It's something you expect from an experienced author, and if this is only Janette Platana's debut collection, then we've all got a whole slew of incredible stories coming our way!
Date published: 2015-12-27
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Enthralled I am enthralled by these stories. It's like the Janette Platana is right here telling me about the dream she had.
Date published: 2015-03-06

Editorial Reviews

"This collection is as brilliant as it is terrifying . . . For Janette Platana, to have an affliction is to be a person . . . I highly recommend this book." —Evelyn Deshane, The Rusty Toque