Incidental Music

Carol Matthews - Bio and Media
pb / 2007-09 / Short Fiction /
978-088982-234-4 / 228pp / $18.95

“There has to be give and take in a marriage,” Tannis’s father tells her when she becomes engaged. “You’ll find the lasting value of a marriage appears not at the beginning but later, towards the end. It is a journey, not a destination. And it’s how you travel, day by day, that makes the difference.” The seven linked stories comprising Incidental Music show Tannis facing the contretemps of maturity, mid-life, aging and abandonment. Set in Montreal, Vancouver and Vancouver Island, these stories trace the geographic and emotional journeys of Tannis and her husband Stephen, as they negotiate the day-to-day twists, turns, impasses and throughways of their domestic and work lives.

Incidental Music covers a range of life situations in which women struggle to make the choice that is right and good. An approaching marriage presents tensions between a future husband and an eccentric father; a woman has to choose between the worlds of her daily psychoanalysis and her domestic relationship; an aging voice artist opts to leave her day-trading fiancée. Music runs through these stories, in title, theme and event, suggesting the line between the remembered past and the unknown future: “Shhh,” says one character, “listen to the music. Just follow it, one note at a time.” Poignant, humorous, these compassionate stories are also concerned with the larger social landscape. Underlying each one is a sense of hope and a belief in people and in the bonds that unite them.