Zero Gravity by Sharon EnglishZero Gravity by Sharon English

Zero Gravity

bySharon English

Paperback | September 1, 2006

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The stories in Zero Gravity are set in British Columbia, mostly in Vancouver. While the stories are not linked explicitly, they are connected by setting -- elevated to the status of character -- and by recurrent themes such as the fragility of home; the lure and alienation of nature in a technological world; and the problems of identity and spiritual grounding in a constantly transforming society.

As Canada's newest metropolis, Vancouver is largely a city of immigrants: people from other countries as well as other provinces. A number of stories in Zero Gravity explore the impact of homelessness in this broad sense: the dislocation caused by having to create a new home some vast distance from one's birthplace, and in a city where so many people are in the same situation. In the lightly comic opening story, a woman from Toronto makes the westward journey across Canada, following the road taken by pioneers and migrants since the opening-up of BC. In Vancouver she befriends an Iraqi computer programmer from Winnipeg, with whom she attends an East Vancouver rave sponsored by a collective called `The Cosmic Elfs'. In another story, a long-time immigrant from the Baltic has her life disturbed by an archaeological discovery in her back yard.

Vancouver's location offers a stunning juxtaposition of city and nature, and this constant contrast -- beautiful, strange, and overwhelming at times -- affects the psyches of those who live there -- or so Zero Gravity aims to suggest. In one story, for example, a woman is forced to confront her dishonesty and desperation on a mismanaged expedition to Garibaldi Park. In another, an aspiring filmmaker loses a young child, and possibly his soul, on an eerie, abandoned strip of beach adjacent to the Vancouver airport.

Problems of lost identity and spiritual grounding pervade Western culture. Vancouver, in its freshness, is a city of lyrical promise that attracts those searching for answers. Yet it's also a city whose roots are still young, and this leads to insecurity. The stories in Zero Gravity show characters struggling with radical changes to their lives, either imposed by accident or, more mysteriously, surging up from within themselves. In one story, for example, a woman working for a downtown Eastside shelter starts to lose her sense of purpose and mental stability.

Sharon English is the author of two collections of short stories. Zero Gravity (Porcupine's Quill, 2006) was long-listed for the 2007 Giller Prize, short-listed for the 2007 ReLit Award, and included as a Globe and Mail notable book for 2006. English's first collection, Uncomfortably Numb, was praised by the Globe and Mail, THIS Magazi...
Title:Zero GravityFormat:PaperbackProduct dimensions:192 pages, 8.75 × 5.56 × 0.63 inShipping dimensions:8.75 × 5.56 × 0.63 inPublished:September 1, 2006Publisher:Porcupine's QuillLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0889842795

ISBN - 13:9780889842793


Rated 5 out of 5 by from Compelling & Poignant... I have read both of Ms. English's books [Uncomfortably Numb & Zero Gravity] and although the content was quite different from one other, both were absolutely riveting. Sharon has a way of effortlessly guiding the reader through a rabbit warren of emotions. Touching on themes such as denial, jealousy , regret, unconditional love, devotion, etc. At the end of each short story she left me wondering for days, about the outcome of each character. I felt affected by her characters' circumstances like I was being gently shown a part of myself that could intimately relate to the emotions that were presented. I think Ms. English is one of Canada's most intuitive and personally engaging writers and I would recommend both of her books to anybody who is looking to connect to 'themselves' in a deep and profound way. I only hope she writes another !
Date published: 2010-02-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Bloody Brilliant The best Canadian fiction writer ever! Hands down, it's a no brainer.
Date published: 2010-02-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great Read Each story was very different and very enjoyable. Great collection.
Date published: 2009-06-18

From the Author

The West Coast. A magnet for the churning edges of youth and creativity, a haven for the eccentric, and for many, a land that promises what the world has withheld.It's not just the mountains and ocean that compel -- but something deeper, hidden. Where the modern values of freedom, novelty and transience possess people -- and push them toward the nothingness of themselves. A state of exhilaration and darkness. The state of zero gravity.A shelter worker wants to make a difference in the world, but descends into self-doubt when a strange seduction challenges her carefully constructed identity. Chatty, anxious, and dependent on his wife, a middle-aged teacher gets lost in the woods -- and himself. Time's thread -- both flexible and taut -- winds itself around an aging woman when on a nude beach she encounters a dark companion from her youth. And, in a modern twist on an old theme, an ambitious executive becomes invisible -- but only to himself.

Table of Contents

The Cosmic Elfs



In the Woods

This Side of Thirty

Nine Outtakes from the Life of Mark T.

Ship of Fools

The Road to Delphi

The Flying Woman

Editorial Reviews

`a talented, keenly observant writer.'