“Valerie’s Bush,” a story from Nancy Jo Cullen’s debut book of short fiction, is not about shrubs. “It’s a really raunchy story,” she explains, “that takes place almost entirely in an esthetician’s room.”
Nancy’s collection, Canary, is full of saucy yet serious stories, many on subjects writers don’t often tackle. The book’s epigraph, “Gas, grass, or ass: No one rides for free,” underlines the theme that links her unusual, hilarious stories.
Canary has received high praise since its release. “Good fiction – and this collection is very good – concentrates the extraordinary in any given life,” wrote Richard Cumyn in The Winnipeg Review. “We have encountered her people in our lives. They stand frozen on street corners, unsure of their next move.” In 2011-2012, Canary was awarded the Metcalf-Rooke Award. “We were gladdened to find an author whose depiction of working-class family life was both unsentimental and tender,” wrote John
Metcalf and Leon Rooke in their jury citation. “We were also struck by the clarity with which the idiosyncrasies of her characters emerge. Her portraits of gay culture are dazzlingly understated, her dialogue is superb, and her knack for comic detail, a delight. This book is intoxicating.”
Canary was recently long-listed for the 2013 Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award. Nancy is also the author of three critically acclaimed collections of poetry with Calgary’s Frontenac House Press, and the 2010 recipient of the Writers’ Trust Dayne Ogilvie Grant for an Emerging Gay Writer.
A transplanted Westerner and the youngest of seven children, Nancy divides her time between Toronto and Kingston and lives in various configurations with her partner, two children, two dogs and a cat.