Darren Greer’s Still Life with June
Cormorant Books Inc, 2003

His phone number is unlisted and he always, always uses a pseudonym; when he rhymes those aliases off, one of them is Darren Greer.

So straight off, reading Darren’s Greer’s novel, Still Life with June, readers know that they will have to be on their collective toes.

And he’s not the only one that readers need to keep an eye on. Another character warns: “It seems none of us can manage to be who or what we say we are for very long.”

Actually, this is true of many of the characters in Still Life with June. Except for June. And readers don’t get to know her until nearly a hundred pages into the novel.

“June is always June.” (And now you’re wondering how that can be so, but it is.)

Someone else that readers get to know in this novel is Darrel Greene.

(You’re thinking that sounds familiar, but you can’t remember why? It’s because the author’s name is Darren Greer and one of the characters in Still Life with June uses the name Darren Greer as a pseudonym. That’s why it sounds familiar. But the name isn’t quite the same.)

Why do authors choose to use pseudonyms? That’s one of the topics discussed at one of the writer’s groups in the novel and our narrator, too, discusses it outright, sharing some of his pseudonymous works in summary and sharing others by incorporating copies of them directly into Still Life with June.

It’s hard to believe that he has anything to hide. Few characters present themselves so boldly on the page.

His voice will either endear readers to him immediately or find them thrusting the book back on the shelf vehemently. (He won me over almost instantly when he started in with his cat, Juxtaposition.)

But we haven’t known him for twenty pages before he’s telling us he’s a liar. And a writer. Which is — apparently — the same thing.

“Each writer is only one person, and one person can only live so much of a life. That life is rarely enough to write a whole lot of stories about. So writers pillage other people’s stories and call them their own.”

I know it’s barely February, but I’m fairly sure Still Life with June will be on my list of favourite reads for 2011.

Companion Reads: Doug Harris’ You comma Idiot (2010); Shaughnessy Bishop-Stall’s Ghosted (2010).

My Canada Reads Indie Responses (please see Pickle Me This for the event’s details):
Lynn Coady’s Play the Monster Blind (JAN28 above) (Pickle Me This pitch is here)
Stacey May Fowles’ Be Good JAN30 (Pickle Me This pitch is here)
Mavis Gallant’s Home Truths FEB1 (Pickle Me This pitch is here)
Thomas King’s Truth and Bright Water FEB3 (Pickle Me This pitch is here)
Darren Greer’s Still Life with June (ABOVE) (Pickle Me This pitch is here)