Caroline Adderson's Ellen in Pieces

by Shaun Hunter


Calgary Through the Eyes of Writers

Cumulous clouds above Calgary's Sunnyside neighbourhood, circa 1912. What do you see? (Photo: Calgary Public Library)

Cumulous clouds above Calgary's Sunnyside neighbourhood, circa 1912. What do you see? (Photo: Calgary Public Library)

Ellen McGinty’s adolescent memories of Calgary consist of sneaking off to bush parties and bonfires, “girls swilling pink gin then puking in the woods.” She has since moved from her father’s house near Nose Hill to the Gulf Islands, where she lives a hippie lifestyle with her playwright husband, washing diapers on a corrugated washboard, milking a goat, and throwing clay pots. Seven-and-a-half months pregnant, Ellen is flying back to Calgary for her father’s 50th birthday. She’s nervous about the trip: she’s in “the most frustrating phase of pregnancy, when desire supplanted nausea.” A time when anything can happen.

 

Even after they touched down at the Calgary airport, Southern Alberta seemed one vast cloud-piled sky. Ellen could see things in those clouds like she used to as a child. Now though, instead of elephants and ducks, there were clefted buttocks, pillowy vulvas.

 

Cocks.

 

Caroline Adderson, Ellen in Pieces (HarperCollins, 2014)