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Miranda Hill will read from her book Sleeping Funny in Parry Sound on Monday 29 October at the Charles W. Stockey Centre for the Performing Arts.

Miranda Hill will read from her book Sleeping Funny in Parry Sound on Monday 29 October at the Charles W. Stockey Centre for the Performing Arts. I always think of a book of short stories as a box of chocolates – one without a guide. Open it up, chose one, and get a delicious surprise. Miranda Hill, mother of five children, holding a MFA in Creative Writing, presents us with a collection of stories meant to please and excite. In her own words, “…In every story, the same concern. Those disparate characters, in different settings and costumes and time periods and styles, all facing the same questions: Who am I? How did I get this way? And most importantly: Is it too late to change? The very interrogations I put to myself, every day I was writing this book.”

The collection opens with Variance, set in a close-knit community of young families in a big city neighbourhood, much like the one where I lived many years ago when my own children were young. Her tale of mothers and children, husbands and wives, took me back to that time. As Miranda Hill moves her characters through their days of concerns for the welfare of their children, and their, sometimes jealous, observations of their neighbours, we see shadows of ourselves. When a new family moves into the neighbourhood, bringing unwelcome changes, not only does the streetscape alter, but so do perceptions, family dynamics, and marriages.

Sleeping Funny is the closing story and the book’s title. When asked about her title, Miranda Hill explains, “Why Sleeping Funny? Because every one of the nine stories in the collection are touched by something a little odd, a little otherworldly—even though the situations are often quite recognizable. I think of the stories occurring in a kind of dream hangover, that sense that something was going on while you slept that you just can't shake come morning, and that hovers over your day.”

Sleeping Funny is a first book, but Miranda Hill has been writing for many years. Winner of the 2011 Writers’ Trust / McClelland & Stewart Journey Prize, she said, “Winning the Journey Prize was the largest, and most public acknowledgement my work had received. But more than the money, or remembering the moment my name was called, I treasure the fact that my name and the title of my story will sit forever in the back pages of subsequent Journey Prize anthologies, side-by-side with the names of writers I admire — those I know about already, and those whose work is still to come. It’s a great privilege to be part of that tradition. How lucky I am — how lucky all we writers and readers are — that the Writers’ Trust makes it possible.”

Miranda Hill will join Susan Swan, Ned Beauman and Annabel Lyon to read from their most recent books at the International Festival of Authors, Parry Sound, on Monday 29 October at 7:30 pm. There are a limited number of tickets available for those who wish to attend a reception with the authors prior to the readings. Contact Parry Sound Books for tickets and more information.

Please note that last week’s review was written not by me – as the heading indicated – but by Stevan McCallum, a member of the International Festival of Authors Parry Sound committee working to bring these authors to our town – my apologies to Steve!

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