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TitleBetter Living Through Plastic Explosives
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LanguageEnglish
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Total Pages144
Table of Contents
                            Zsuzsi Gartner Better Living Through Plastic Explosives
SUMMER OF THE FLESH EATER
ONCE, WE WERE SWEDES
FLOATING LIKE A GOAT
INVESTMENT RESULTS MAY VARY
THE ADOPTED CHINESE DAUGHTERS’ REBELLION
WHAT ARE WE DOING HERE?
SOMEONE IS KILLING THE GREAT MOTIVATIONAL SPEAKERS OF AMERIKA
MISTER KAKAMI
WE COME IN PEACE
BETTER LIVING THROUGH PLASTIC EXPLOSIVES
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
                        
Document Text Contents
Page 2

Annotation

From an emerging master of short fiction and one of Canada's most
distinctive voices, a collection of stories as heartbreaking as those of Lorrie
Moore and as hilariously off-kilter as something out of McSweeney's.

In Better Living through Plastic Explosives, Zsuzsi Gartner delivers a
powerful second dose of the lacerating satire that marked her acclaimed debut,
All the Anxious Girls on Earth, but with even greater depth and darker humour.
Whether she casts her eye on evolution and modern manhood when an upscale
cul-de-sac is thrown into chaos after a redneck moves into the neighbourhood,
international adoption, war photography, real estate, the movie industry,
motivational speakers, or terrorism, Gartner filets the righteous and the
ridiculous with dexterity in equal, glorious measure. These stories ruthlessly
expose our most secret desires, and allow us to snort with laughter at the
grotesque world we'd live in if we all got what we wanted.

Zsuzsi Gartner

SUMMER OF THE FLESH EATER
ONCE, WE WERE SWEDES
FLOATING LIKE A GOAT
INVESTMENT RESULTS MAY VARY
THE ADOPTED CHINESE DAUGHTERS’ REBELLION
WHAT ARE WE DOING HERE?
SOMEONE IS KILLING THE GREAT MOTIVATIONAL
SPEAKERS OF AMERIKA
MISTER KAKAMI
WE COME IN PEACE
BETTER LIVING THROUGH PLASTIC EXPLOSIVES
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

Page 73

remembers she didn’t flush, unlike early this morning when, after waking up
alone on the roof (even the palm tree was gone!) and somehow managing to
crawl down into the apartment before being sick, Didi made sure she flushed and
then flushed again. Then she’d washed her face, scraping at the flecks of roof
pitch with an AirMiles card someone had left in the soap dish, before stepping
into the hallway and belting out the theme song from

. One of her hosts appeared in the doorway of the bedroom, wide-eyed,
naked, just as she was pretending to toss her hat into the air Mary Richards-style,
and closed the door in her face, loudly, but she caught the pretend hat anyway
just to prove she didn’t need other people around to have fun.

It was only afterwards, when she was standing down on Adelaide, that she
realized she didn’t have cab fare or even enough for the streetcar and had to walk
all the way home while flipping the bird at ignorant would-be johns in rusting
Impalas and gleaming Isuzu Rodeos with bicycle racks on the back who couldn’t
differentiate if their very lives depended on it between her ironically short terry-
cloth shorts (that had just been at a party with Rufus Wainwright and his new
lover and the latter’s understanding and rather empathetic ex-girlfriend) and
something a hooker would wear. And after all that she had so looked forward to
tonight, to a fun evening in a fourteenth-floor luxury apartment belonging to a
semi-famous photographer who specialized in portraits of aging women
intellectuals,

The steaks and those very large, scary baked potatoes have somehow made
their way onto the table and she finds herself sitting in front of a plate with a
knife and fork in her hands and the photographer is still talking, something about
how if he hadn’t become a photographer he would’ve been a short-order cook,
an excellent short-order cook, because that’s how much he likes a

(??!!), and how much simpler his life would’ve been, and Didi wonders
why he’s telling her these things, wonders if he maybe has her confused with
somebody else, with this Deirdre whose name he keeps snapping his jaws down
on as if they’re a leghold trap, because, well, explosions, if you like that kind of
thing, could be considered a turn-on, but a well-greased grill can’t be construed
as anything other than a well-greased grill.

In between all his words, if she squints, she can see that he’s trying to tell
her something and that it has nothing to do with innuendo. She knows she should
be interested in these things he’s talking about, that somehow these things
matter, but she isn’t. In fact, they make her feel itchy.

What she really, really wants to ask, once and for all, is
She tries to will this simple question into being, to thrust it into the air

between them like a magician conjuring a dove from the old-fashioned beige

Page 143

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
There are many people I’m grateful to (and for) who lit a path for these

stories-foremost among them Caroline “Kitten-witha-Whip” Adderson and
Charlotte Gill, fellow traveller, without whom this book might have remained a
silent scream.

I owe oceans of thanks to Jackie Kaiser, agent extraordinaire and a great
dame, for making everything easier; to Nicole Winstanley, my editor and
publisher, who fizzes with vitality, grace, and intelligence, for her caring,
intuitive editing; to the scarily smart and kind Nick Garrison, a redoubtable
troubleshooter who saved me from some of my indulgences; to laser-eyed Shaun
Oakey; and to the patient Sandra Tooze and rest of the crack team at the big
flightless bird’s Canadian headquarters.

Patty Jones, Lee Henderson, Neil Smith, Sarah Selecky, and Matthew J.
Trafford provided jetpacks of psychic fuel. Timothy Taylor generously
bequeathed me the name and DNA of Patrick Kakami.

Huge thanks are due to Gudrun Will, of Vancouver Review; Denise Ryan, of
The Vancouver Sun; and John Burns, formerly of The Georgia Straight, three
modern-day Medicis, and to the other editors, Sarah Fulford (Toronto Life), Jared
Bland (The Walrus), Kim Jernigan (The New Quarterly), and Sylvia Legris
(Grain), who so enthusiastically published some of these stories in earlier
incarnations.

My astonishing students at UBC gave inspiration, while Capt. Andrew Gray
maintained the lifeboats.

The words of so many writers inspire my fiction, but I’m particularly
indebted here to the writings of Charles Darwin (for “Summer of the Flesh
Eater”) and to Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness (for “Mister Kakami”).

Thank you to the Canada Council and the B.C. Arts Council for monies I’m
sure they thought I’d squandered a million years ago.

And, as always, I am grateful to my friend Patrick Crean for enduring faith,
and to my great loves John and Dexter Dippong for absolutely everything.

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