Emblem Editions, McClelland & Stewart 2002
The superbly crafted stories in this internationally acclaimed collection trace four generations of the Lafrenière family in the fictional small town of Agassiz, Manitoba, from the time of the great flood in 1950 to the present. There is Mika, the matriarch of the family, tired of being a mother to her children, and her Métis husband, Maurice, who is by turns fascinated by and ashamed of his Native heritage. Their marriage has long been an uneasy truce. As their children grow up to pursue their own lives, the frustrations of one generation will collide with the dreams of another, and the past will leave an indelible mark on all that is to come. Agassiz Stories is at once funny and heartbreaking, and written with rare, illuminating honesty.
Praise for Agassiz Stories
- “… a remarkable achievement … confirms Birdsell’s position as one of the best short story writers in the language.” — Alberto Manguel, Books in Canada
- “… beautifully crafted assemblage of stories…. Each piece is a model of economy; cumulatively, they resonate with the unsparing power of a memory mediated only by art.”
— Publishers Weekly
- “… skillful use of symbols, a remarkable ease in shifting back and forth in time … crisp, realistic dialogue that makes a character–young or old–jump to life; nice touches of humour; and ability to give ordinary people a certain grandeur, to make the commonplace both significant and interesting.” — Books in Review
- “Sibling rivalry; the trials of puberty, teenage rebellion- Birdsell deals deftly with them all…. (She) has us well and truly hooked …” — Globe and Mail
- “Her stories spring from some deep underground stream that flows through the heart.”
— Rick Hillis, Philadelphia Inquirer
- (Birdsell) is a masterful storyteller, able to render quiet moment of beauty and grace as ballast to bleakness.” — Kirkus Reviews
- “Birdsell writes with the kind of emotional and psychological honesty that distinguishes Munro’s work…. She has good insight into family relationships and the alternating loyalty, duplicity, jealousy, treachery and compassion of its members… By the final story, we feel we know this family as well as any other in Canadian fiction…. Birdsell has us well and truly hooked.
— Globe and Mail
- “An infinite pleasure.” — Minnesota Daily