Sandra Birdsell

The Two-Headed Calf

The Two-Headed Calf
Short stories
McClelland & Stewart, 1997

The two headed calf book cover. A dazzling collection of short stories that juxtapose cultures and generations with the often conflicted yearnings of the human heart.

In the title story, a young illegitimate girl begins to understand the double-edged nature of the world. In another, a woman returns to her Winnipeg home and finds herself once again surrounded by memories and drawn in by the encroaching need of those society has left behind. An elderly retired couple grapple with which side of the truth they can understand on a long drive to Saskatoon where their granddaughter will go on trial for her part in a murder. The relationship between a divorced woman and her teenage daughter is brilliantly portrayed as the girl’s ache for independence leads her into a strange, potentially dangerous situation. Set some time between two wars in farming country, the final story recalls the tragic tale of twins who remain on the fixed course of middle-aged bachelorhood until a young woman’s attentions instil a poignant hope, and their lives change irrevocably.

Set in urban and rural Manitoba, these nine beautifully rendered stories draw on both the past and the present at they explore the dislocations that occur between cultures and generations, and between the conflicting aspects of ourselves and our yearnings.

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