|About Last Summer at Barebones||
"Amid the flood of dull-to-middling first novels
released each year from our dozens of small presses there has been in recent
years a swelling wave of surprising accomplishment. Toronto writer Diane
Baker Mason's Last Summer at Barebones crests that wave. The story
of a shock-and-schlock tabloid journalist who plots the murder of her sister,
this book is at once funny, sad and strangely uplifting. Perfectly voiced
and beautifully shaped, its structure an emotional time-bomb, it's one
of the most assured and auspicious debuts I've read in years."
"Baker Mason has written an impressive
debut novel. The writing is crisp, the characters are believable and you
can't help but be amazed at how the littlest spark can create such change
in people's lives."
"This debut novel
establishes Diane Baker Mason as a Canadian author of note. The details
of Dee’s childhood (Dee and her friend Richard play dolls with G.I. Joe
and Midge) and veracity of her voice in recounting her shame and obsessive
hunger provide ample opportunity to ponder the needs of the hungry human
"Mason spins a narrative
as large and energetic as her heroine, and just as filled with passion
and conflict. Roiling, larger-than-life Dee has not only her own story
to tell, but the story of a whole generation."
"Palpably capable of murder, Dee is a credible
psychotic. What on earth, we can't help wondering, created this person?...a
startlingly assured first novel!"
"This book threw me for a loop...and the
ending gave me chills!"
"Last Summer at Barebones is so
good that those who love both fine fiction and cottage life should buy
a copy of this big, fat paperback novel, putting it away until the summer.
And then read it on a dock during a hot July afternoon."
"Rare indeed is the novel with a conscience
or moral, and rarer still is the novel that so touches your soul you long
to see it continue well past the last page. Last Summer at Barebones is
such a story. So engaging is the narration of 40-ish tabloid journalist
Dee Graham, so unexpected is the ironic ending, that it is not possible
to read this in bits and pieces, stretched out over days or weeks: It simply
must be consumed whole for maximum effect."
"Last Summer is funny, poignant
and unsentimental. Baker Mason creates sympathy for her characters by portraying
them as realistic and complex, instead of simply pushing the right emotional
buttons. This first novel is hard to put down."
"a...black but poignant narrative about
an imaginative, sensitive and inexplicably huge child...Mason has produced
an excellent first novel..."
"A hidden gem!"
"...Dee's afloat on a swamp of misery,
buoyed only by her friendship with the spindly sickly Richard and her summers
at an island cottage at Barebones Lake in the Muskoka region of Ontario.
Oddly enough, this doesn't make for a depressing read: even as Dee snivels
and lies, you find yourself rooting for her..."
"Last Summer At Barebones, as dark
and compelling as an Ibsen tragedy, is a marvellous novel that simply crackles
with creative energy. There's a major new Canadian writer on the block,
and her name is Diane Baker Mason."
"... page-turning panache that evokes
not only Dee's adolescent suffering, but also the unique family dynamic
that emerges on summer vacations. The ending...does not shy away from...catharsis
-- a move Oprah would no doubt applaud."
"Last Summer at Barebones captures
all the awkwardness of adolescence: the humour, pain, imagination, and
desire, but most of all the fear that you're not "normal" like other people.
Diane Baker Mason's heroine, Dee Graham, is too big for her age, too smart
for her peers, and exactly like every one of us who ever felt different
and alone at age 13."
"Diane Baker Mason is one of the reasons
Canadian literature is turning into a feast for the troubled soul. Her
writing is bright, new and colourful... Last Summer at Barebones
brings us characters who ride into your life fully realized aboard a voice
that is irresistible. In particular, the two sisters, Dee and Theresa,
remind us of the best and the worst in our natures, our ability to be loving
and murderous with equal relish."
"You can add this wonderful new novel to your collection
of troubling, hilarious, and absolutely addictive stories about the passage
of 'different' children into adolescence. Dee Graham, the narrator, writes
about her ordeal as a fat girl in the Toronto and Muskoka of the 60's with
a mix of candor and indignation we usually share with only our closest
friends. Her language is absolutely true -- to the ear as well as to the
brain. It has all the bravado of stand-up comedy and all the surprise and
wonder of a fairytale. Diane Baker Mason has turned a tough and unswerving
eye on the emotional politics of Dee's family, and the deep insights into
cruelty and tenderness she finds under the jocular surface will stay with
readers, I predict, a long, long time."
Praise for Diane Baker Mason's short fiction
Mason's contribution provides a more agonizing punishment
of gluttony. Mason invents a biblical punishment to gluttons through a
seemingly-eternal, lavish, dinner party...Gluttony functions as
an excellent collection of anti-indulgence lessons...
I felt as if I had stumbled upon an old
Weekly with a delightful piece...Quite simply, it was a gem.
(416) 408 4007