The Immaculate Conception Photography Gallery

Paperback | April 11, 2000

byKatherine Govier

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In this eclectic and intriguing collection of short stories, Govier blurs the boundaries between seemingly disparate worlds and highlights the human desire to rationalize life experiences. Two cottagers mistake the brilliance of a search party's flares for an alien invasion. A photographer rewrites the past to suit the present by altering his client's photographs. The Immaculate Conception Photography Gallery is extraordinary and absorbing fiction, with ideas that resonate in the mind.

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From Our Editors

Katherine Govier has had a deft hand when it comes to penning brilliant short works of fiction. Once again, she proves her short story writing prowess in The Immaculate Conception Photography Gallery. Each story radiates truisms about the human experience, particularly the tendency for men and women to make excuses or reason with thems...

From the Publisher

In this eclectic and intriguing collection of short stories, Govier blurs the boundaries between seemingly disparate worlds and highlights the human desire to rationalize life experiences. Two cottagers mistake the brilliance of a search party's flares for an alien invasion. A photographer rewrites the past to suit the present by alter...

Katherine Govier is an acclaimed novelist, short-story writer and journalist, born and raised in Alberta and currently living in Toronto. She is the author of eight novels and three short story collections, and is the editor of two collections of travel essays. She is the winner of the Marian Engel Award (for a woman writer in mid-care...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:272 pages, 7.97 × 5.13 × 0.75 inPublished:April 11, 2000Publisher:Random House Of CanadaLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0679310347

ISBN - 13:9780679310341

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The Immaculate Conception Baby ShowerWhen Sarah Stafford’s engagement to Chip Cunningham was called off, Sarah showed unnatural spunk and announced that she was going to Dawson City to work as a can-can dancer at Diamond Tooth Gertie’s.Pearl Stafford was aghast.“You can't possibly. Way up there? In a place like that the only reason they even have women is to serve men’s pleasure.” Her voice was gravelly and her throat tendons twitched.“You've never even been there, Mother.”Sarah hadn't either, not yet, but she was in a hurry to go. She was packing her dance leotards and the large rubber boots that had been recommended, because spring came late and the snow was still melting in mid-May. Sarah’s was one of those Calgary families with a ranch south of town where the Royal Family made stop offs whenever any of them were in the vicinity, a seat on the Stampede Board, and a barn full of cutting horses. Sarah was not horsy. Furthermore, on June 21 her older sister Janet would marry Norm Grisdale. With her own wedding no longer in the offing, Sarah did not wish to attend. Not that she was jealous: Norm was a man of no particular distinction; in fact, the Judge had asked him in jest if he wanted to change his last name to Stafford.***In Dawson Sarah met a placer miner named Pete Gilhooley. His family had its stake up in the hills half an hour’s drive east. He was brown-skinned and muscular with a sharp nose, high cheekbones and level, peat-brown eyes. Diagonally across his forehead fell a lock of straight hair, which he threw off by tossing his head. Pete had grown up riding bareback over the moss and rocks, and did school by correspondence until he was fifteen, when he was sent out to Vancouver. But he never liked the south, and when his dad died he came back to take over the mine. It was still a one-man operation. Pete dug and sifted for gold all summer and in fall he flew out with the nuggets. It gave him enough money to spend the darkest part of the winter in Hawaii.The ice had just broken up when Sarah arrived. No one slept – they'd slept through the darkness of October through May – least of all the lovers. Sarah and Pete made love in the sunlit midnights all summer long; by August Chip Cunningham was nothing but a blip on the screen. The tourists decamped Dawson and in September Sarah brought Pete down to Priddis. Janet, who'd made a swift journey from bride to matron, and Norm came for Sunday brunch to meet Sarah’s boyfriend. Pearl Stafford made a steak and kidney pie.The pastry steaming on her plate, Pearl pushed her elbows out of their silk swathing and up on the table. “So, Peter, tell me, who are your people?”Sarah had taken Pete out the day before to get him a pale blue button-down shirt and a pair of grey flannels; he balked at the blazer and had rolled up his shirt-sleeves.“They've been in Dawson since the nineties,” said Pete in his soft voice. “I don't think you'd know them. My mother was Milly –”“I can't hear what he is saying, can you?” trumpeted the Judge, who suffered a selective deafness. Pearl smiled in a glacial way at Pete. Perhaps she was thinking of his pleasure, to which she imagined the entire female population of Dawson was dedicated.“Now exactly where is the Yukon? I could never quite make out. West of here, or straight overhead, what do they say in Peter Pan? ‘Straight on ’till morning?’ Do you know the Woodwards? The Siftons? Dear Effie is so sweet. The last time I was in Palm Springs she leant me her car and driver – Ernest, isn't that his name? – for the entire day.”“You can't take mother seriously,” Sarah whispered when she sneaked into the guest room to visit Pete. She advised him to make a joke of it. “I don't know the Siftons but Ernest is a good guy,” would have done, for in-stance. But Pete was not to be patronized. Love lost its sweetness in the longer dark of southern Alberta. Two more days and they had a violent quarrel under Pearl’s smiling eyes. “You're somebody else down here,” said Pete. “It’s like I don't even know you.” The visit was a failure. Pete withdrew to the north alone and Sarah betrayed not a whisper of pain.“Sarah is such a wit,” her brother Michael said after. “She went out and found herself an actual gold digger.” It was a good line, and so often repeated that eventually Sarah herself began to use it.***When Sarah Stafford was approaching forty, and still unmarried, Pearl fretted. A husband was no longer the issue. The issue was issue. At this point marriage was too long and too unreliable a route. In the sitting room Pearl laid down her copy of Woman’s Journal, airmailed from England.“You know you don't have to forgo the greatest of life’s joys, just because You're not married,” she said to her daughter’s sturdy profile.Sarah continued to look out the window. She was a lawyer in the family firm. She was heavier, her can-can days long over. Her profile sat well at a board table. Her hair was twisted into an elegant but tight knot at the nape of her neck. Her cheek reflected the cool spring light on melting snow. Men had dared to woo her but none had succeeded. From time to time people brought up that dreadful Pete Gilhooley. Something in that incident troubled Pearl. She tumbled it in her mind, as if she could unlock it, learn a secret about Sarah. But it produced nothing and she tossed it aside.

From Our Editors

Katherine Govier has had a deft hand when it comes to penning brilliant short works of fiction. Once again, she proves her short story writing prowess in The Immaculate Conception Photography Gallery. Each story radiates truisms about the human experience, particularly the tendency for men and women to make excuses or reason with themselves about the sometimes questionable things they do. Far from being a collection of lofty or abstract ideas, this book features a healthy combination of easily digestible dramatic and comic elements.  

Editorial Reviews

"A pure delight." — Winnipeg Free Press

"Intelligent, well crafted and wryly entertaining…A comic and original collection worthy of the best of Ann Beattie, Alison Lurie and Bonnie Burnard." — London Free Press