We are very happy to introduce Diana Brebner as our new First Novels' Editor. Diana is an Ottawa resident and graduate of the University of Ottawa, where she studied philosophy. Her poetry has appeared in such magazines as The Malahat Review, Event, Grain, The New Quarterly, and Poetry Canada. She has published three volumes of verse, including the award-winning Radiant Life Forms (1990) and The Golden Lotus (1993). She has also written reviews, literary essays, and short fiction, and performed with the trio, "Fearful Symmetry". Currently, she is working on another book of poetry and several fiction manuscripts.
The cover blurb for Jim Munroe's FLYBOY ACTION FIGURE COMES WITH GASMASK (HarperCollins, 248 pages, $20 paper) makes no extravagant claims or comparisons. Good move. Munroe has written a clever, hyperkinetic, kooky story that he calls impossibilist fiction. Impossible to put down, that's for sure. Shy-boy-who-can-turn-into-a-fly meets strange, former punk-rocker girl who is mother to a toddler whose father is an alien. Oh yes, she can also make things disappear.
All this occurs in good old downtown Toronto. It's not long before Ryan and Cassandra team up as Ms. Place and Flyboy and, inspired by Sailor Moon, prepare to fight the evil-doers of their world: immoral cigarette companies, tacky redneck newspapers, and worse. Fax machines, a website, and clever media manipulation, coupled with their powers, give them an invincible edge.
Munroe's characters are smart and sassy; his description of the world of zinesters, dance clubs, and morbid poetry readings is playful and poignant. And there is a sweet vulnerability to his twenty-something superheroes that is endearing. Love scenes in which Ryan alternates between fly and human are hilarious, despite their "been there, Donne that" quality. As Cass, Ryan, and The Superheroes for Social Justice battle the forces of darkness, Munroe makes it clear that what makes people strong, even in Toronto, is the loyalty and support of friends. The real superpower is the power of love. What a novel idea.