Shortlisted for a ReLit Award for Best Story Collection
I still want that imagine mother. I still want my mother. Here in the House, we're all one line of wanting mothers, being. Some days I don't even know if my real mom's alive or dead. And since I've been clean, I can't go down East Hastings cuz I'm still too shaky. Maybe Mom'll quit one day, like I did. Maybe she'll learn to care for herself. Like I'm learning to. Like the ghost said.
Skid row: an impoverished neighbourhood, a phrase originating in the Depression era. Skids: tire marks in the street. Skids: street kids.
The stories told in Skids are elegiac confessions of the street: young kids living on their own, many of them runaways or addicts, eking out an existence in the brutal environs of Vancouver's Downtown East Side. Often harrowing, these are the tales of the disenfranchised: teens and young adults holed up in shelters or city parks, in detox clinics or recovery houses, their secrets laid bare, their voices heard. Told in the vernacular of the street, these stories reverberate with a sense of urgency and desperation, but amidst the chaos, there are also acts of compassion and displays of camaraderie; as readers, we are compelled to know them, to not avert their glances.
Skids is based on the author's personal experience trying to get clean in recovery houses among street youths; while not homeless herself, she had many friends who were. For Cathleen, writing Skids was a way to pay homage to the kids she befriended, many of whom are now gone; Skids honours their stories, and makes them matter.
Partial proceeds from the sales of Skids will go to assist Covenant House Vancouver.
Film option sold to Death March Films
Cathleen With is a graduate of the University of British Columbia MFA program in Creative Writing. She is the author of the story collection Skids (Arsenal, 2006) and the novel Having Faith in the Polar Girls' Prison (Penguin, 2009), winner of the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize (BC Book Prizes). She has travelled extensively throughout Asia, and has lived in Siem Reap and Seoul. She currently lives in Vancouver.
This is fiction that shines a unique light into our common darkness. Skids is filled with brilliant, powerful, and compassionate voices. If ever I need a guide on the dark side of the moon, I want it to be Cathleen With.
-Bill Gaston - Bill Gaston
An impressive debut collection. . . . the stories are loosely linked by setting and some characters, which helps to underscore the anarchic drift of lives in this community of the dispossessed. We lose characters, then find them again, usually no better off -- but more familiar, and more worth knowing. . . . "Drive Uncle Randy" is a road story ripe for a film deal (think Gus Van Sant or David Lynch).
-The Globe and Mail - The Globe and Mail
Skids is a nervy and powerful tour de force, written with wit and honesty in an entirely original voice. Unforgettable.
-Helen Humphreys - Helen Humphreys, Helen Humphreys
The author's voice is original, fresh, and authentic. With inhabits her characters from the inside out, and presents them to us with a clear, unblinking gaze. These stories feel lived rather than imagined.
-Quill & Quire - Quill and Quire
A strong set of intertwined tales. . . . powerfully written.
-Vancouver Sun - Vancouver Sun
The true-to-life street voices that permeate these stories need to be heard.
-Canadian Book Review Annual - Canadian Book Review Annual
Skids is an excellent read---particularly important for its rare focus on queers and class. With manages to examine difficult subject matter without sensationalism and with an adequate dose of humour. Above all, she creates characters who haven't given up, who still believe in their own worth and dream of a better life.
-Xtra! - Xtra!
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