The thirteen stories in Marion Quednau’s collection are humorous as well as unsettling, and they definitely draw a reader in—sometimes to sympathize and sometimes because suspicion is aroused. And sometimes for pure delight.
I find it fascinating to note where the stories are situated: not on the mountain but rather at home where a couple speculates on the news of a missing hiker; and not at a wedding but at the preparation for it. Each short story kept my attention as I appreciated the unexpected in the ordinariness of the characters’ lives with their many layers of complexities. Some hope to be rescued and others rescue themselves.
In the first story, “Snow Man,” a new neighbor named Walter has moved in across the street from Kate and Harold. Kate checks in on Walter, who is on his own, and even has dinner with him while she leaves Harold’s supper in the warming oven. Kate “tried to imagine Harold losing her to something unseen between them. Something grown huge seemingly overnight.”
A longer story about a married couple is “Found to be Missing,” which is a marvel in its depiction of the intricacies of a relationship. While the news of a hiker lost on Mount Seymour (British Columbia) has “given them reason to exchange words,” Iris imagines what the hiker might miss about his life. Max is more concerned with “the obvious facts” and “listens faithfully to the weather reports.” The couple’s separate and unique responses to the news of the lost hiker—a university-aged student, they learn—say a lot about their relationship. There’s a life at stake in finding or not finding the young man, and it appears there’s a marriage at stake as well. “They’ve started to live their days according to an apparently failed search-and-rescue mission.”
The story from which the book’s title is taken, “Sunday Drive to Gun Club Road,” is written in the first person by a woman reflecting back on the Sunday drives her family would take “long after churchgoing had fizzled” to see houses for sale. One of them was on Gun Club Road.
In “Twine,” a young woman called Clare crosses the border from Canada into Bellingham to go to a tiny shop for a fitting of a vintage wedding dress. Following an accident in the street, she’s rescued by a man who lives nearby. This one had an eerie tone and kept me reading as I had no idea how it would turn out.
“Two Birds, One Stone” is hilarious in the way the narrator describes her friend: “Everything she said used to annoy me.” This is bleak humor (there’s a murder) at its best.
While you may not know where you’ll end up, you don’t want to miss the exhilarating path that takes you there in Sunday Drive to Gun Club Road.