Seasoning Fever by Susan KerslakeSeasoning Fever by Susan Kerslake

Seasoning Fever

bySusan Kerslake

Paperback | May 15, 2002

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Hannah and Matthew eyed each other as children, fell in love as young adults, quit the deadened East and headed West to homestead on the prairie. There is a sod house. Crops, cows, children. A berdache (a North American Aboriginal male, either celibate or homosexual, who assumes an intermediate social role between that of men and women in Aboriginal society). Passion in furrows. Women in daylight and in the dark of night. There are three men and one woman. A man who loves Hannah and the Horizon. A man who loves horses and pregnant women. A young man who loves and hates in the same person.

Seasoning Fever is Little House on the Prairie had it been written by Annie Proulx, Wallace Stegner or Cormac McCarthy. In limpid, dreamlike prose, Susan Kerslake serves up an epic myth of the West with perceptiveness both wise and innocent. All of life's elemental zest is here: deprivation and survival, love and lust, the magical and the mundane and the sometimes unbridgeable distance between male and female. No simple tale of prairie homesteading, this long-awaited novel imposes the ingenuous resource of a soaring poetic mind upon the grass ocean of an inscrutable land. If the measure of such fusion is an assessment of spirit, then the spirit of Seasoning Fever is original and triumphant.

Born in Chicago, Susan Kerslake has lived in Halifax since 1966. Her previous books include Middlewatch (Oberon 1976), Penumbra (Mercury 1984), Blind Date (Potterfield 1989) and Book of Fears (Ragweed 1984) which was short-listed for the Governor General's Award. For over twenty years she has worked as a volunteer with children with cy...
Title:Seasoning FeverFormat:PaperbackPublished:May 15, 2002Publisher:Porcupine's QuillLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0889842345

ISBN - 13:9780889842342

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Within a few weeks Matthew had told Hannah what had happened so many times that, although she hadn't listened once from beginning to end, she now knew six versions. Each had more weight than the last; when he talked she felt her face flatten.A film of frostbite scalloped his ear and white spots polka-dotted his cheek. He shone. He stood over there talking, building himself, celebrating the fact of his body as it surrounded him. He found himself gazing at the hills of snow, the silt of his imagination whitening it to an uncommon brilliance, not unlike what he imagined the inside of possibility to be. It seemed to drink his energy in slow deep draughts.She insisted that they go to the barn dance. `Everyone's going ... I'm going.'He remembered how he would follow her anywhere when she was like this, switching her will as if it were a tail, cracking the air. And through the cold, her sharp scent.It was already dark when they arrived, the shape of the large barn blurred by a rippling edge of steam. For a moment, when the doors opened, the block of human-heated air and the black wall of winter met and shuddered. The dancers hesitated, looking to the newcomers, then brightened in recognition or curiosity. One by one they turned back to their partners.`... whirl your partner ... allemande left ...'The air was sweet with cider and laughter. Lamp glow stirred by the dancers swirled in smoke. As it warmed, the women shed their swaddle of extra wraps, which soon draped the posts and rails like moths. Fiddle and flute music ran like an undercurrent tugging on their legs. Mouths softened, a moustache of sweat glistening their upper lips. As the music retreated, chatter rose so that there was always a dear noise.Mrs Bradley, her placid face holding her hair around like a pink pin cushion was saying, `Well, I was the first one to know ...' A yeasty smell of well-being rose from her.Sitting nearby, a woman took off her white gloves and folded them in half before placing one on top of the other in a little sandwich. She slid them into her purse, centred the purse on her lap, and covered it neatly with her two hands. Simultaneously her feet, side by side, toed an imaginary line. Her shoulders trimmed and her head settled slightly, an old house on its foundation.Hannah handed the baby to childless Evelyn. He was content there, one hand braced on her dry breast as he reached for a pearly cameo nestled in ruffles at her throat. She let him. `Gently, don't pull on it.' He looked at her face, stretched one arm back, and turned to be sure Hannah was watching. She smiled. She might not have to hold him again until he was ready to go to sleep. With his weight gone she had to consciously straighten up. She plucked her dress away from her skin where it had been glued by his heat.The music was starting again. Glancing softly, the women wondered if the men were coming back from their corners and secret circles. Each time, they emerged warmer and more forward, expansive even, doing their best to play someone who might surprise or frighten them. As the anticipation grew, a lively flush and flirt of red coloured their cheeks.`Let's keep things moving, ladies and gentlemen. Old Man Winter is just outside the door, let's not let him in. Come on now, get your partners and form your squares. I'm going to throw an easy one at you, you won't have to be on your toes for this one, so how about trying a new partner this round, that gal you've had your eye on ...' The crowd shifted uneasily. A man shrugged, closed his eyes and reached out one long arm like a scythe catching Hannah around the waist. `This little gal!' He bowed. As he swept off his hat to toss it up on a hook, she saw that the skull of a rattlesnake was fastened at the centre front of the hat band, a red bandanna, and looked like clotted evil inside the eye sockets. Before she could touch it the man grabbed her hand and pulled her over to the platform-built dance floor. Others moved in quickly. The fiddler was already stomping the boards to establish the beat. Looking around the square, Hannah saw a young man she remembered from harvest time; and that one, the soft unmarried brother of the railway man. The fiddle squirted. `Honour your partner ...' Hannah felt the wisps of hair swing out away from her head. Tiny flames of her hair burned through the gold in the air and the fine straw dust swirled. She let her body bend over the arms of the men. While they held her she leaned back and looked at the ceiling, the same vault of bat air and blindness as the barn she and Matthew used to hide in, throwing secrets up into the webs that buttressed the huge beams. Just outside it was cold and sad and dark. The secrets had been so enormous she didn't think the world could hold them, or her, but it did.This,

Editorial Reviews

` ... this is a book that is lush with detail. Every page offers up a succession of vivid images and one exquisitely wrought phrase after another. Yet we never feel the author is showing off or allowing her mastery of language to get the better of her internal editor. As with all good fiction character remains at the core of Kerslake's novel, and beyond its ability to dazzle, the language of Seasoning Fever serves its primary function -- to evoke setting, to reach inside characters and bring them to life, to tell a story -- with rare fluency.'