Farrant, M.A.C. 1947–
Farrant, M.A.C. 1947–
(M.A. Farrant, Marion Alice Coburn Farrant)
Born April 5, 1947, in Sydney, Australia; daughter of William Derbyshire Gibson and Nancy Eloise Whitehouse; married Garret Coburn, January 15, 1968 (divorced, 1971); married Terry Farrant, December 20, 1974; children: Bill, Anna. Ethnicity: "Anglo-Saxon." Education: Attended Simon Fraser University and University of Victoria. Politics: "Left." Religion: "Not in the organized sense."
Writer. Visiting writer in residence at several universities in Australia, 1998; guest speaker at other institutions, including University of Victoria and Simon Fraser University; gives frequent readings from her works at festivals, libraries, schools, and other venues throughout Canada and elsewhere; judge of writing contests; frequent guest on Canadian media programs. Worked as a social worker, child care worker, tap dancer, and bookkeeper.
Writers Union of Canada, Federation of British Columbia Writers, Sidney and North Saanich Arts Council.
First prize, fiction category, British Alternative Writing and Design Contest, 2002, and award for best fiction title, January, 2003, both for Darwin Alone in the Universe; first prize, nonfiction category, Grain, 2002, for "We Keep the Party Going"; Memoirink Prize, 2005, for "Traveling Garbage"; grants from Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Canada Council, and British Columbia Arts Council.
Sick Pigeon (fiction), Thistledown Press (Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada), 1991.
Raw Material (short stories), Arsenal Pulp Press (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada), 1993.
Altered Statements (short stories), Arsenal Pulp Press (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada), 1995.
Word of Mouth (short stories), Thistledown Press (Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada), 1996.
What's True, Darling (short stories), Polestar Book Publishers (Custer, WA), 1998.
Girls around the House (linked stories), Polestar Book Publishers (Custer, WA), 1999.
Gifts (short stories), limited edition, Reference West (Victoria, British Columbia Canada), 1999.
Darwin Alone in the Universe (short-short stories), Polestar Book Publishers (Custer, WA), 2003.
My Turquoise Years: A Memoir (novel), Douglas & McIntyre (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada), 2004.
The Breakdown So Far, Talonbooks (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada), 2007.
Contributor to chapbooks and anthologies, including The Concrete Forest, edited by Hal Niedviecki, McClelland & Stewart (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1998; Tesseracts 7, edited by Paula Johanson and Jean-Louie Trudel, Tesseracts Books (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada), 1998; Exact Fare Only: Good, Bad, and Ugly Rides on Public Transit, edited by Grant Buday, Anvil Press (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada), 2000; All Wound Up: Alternative Writing from British Columbia, Ripple Effect Press (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada), 2002; and Penguin Anthology of Canadian Humour, edited by Will Ferguson, Penguin, 2006. Correspondent for Geist, 1996-2003, and Adbuster's. Contributor of short stories and reviews to periodicals, including NeWest Review, Fiddlehead, Chatelaine, Maclean's, Prism International, Monday, Exile, Malahat Review, Ottawa Citizen, and Vancouver Sun.
Sick Pigeon was adapted as a television feature and broadcast by the Bravo! Network, 1995. Girls around the House, What's True, Darling, and other short stories have been dramatized and broadcast on Canadian radio programs. A miniseries based on Farrant's novel My Turquoise Years was broadcast by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation in 2004.
M. A.C. Farrant is a Canadian author of short fiction. The stories in Raw Material "offer strikingly different responses to fragmentation in contemporary culture," according to Jeanette Lynes in Canadian Literature. Describing the boredom of suburban life and middle-class culture, the stories draw on those of Franz Kafka and Lewis Carroll, and, as Lynes observed, the book "provides a carefully honed, fresh perspective."
Altered Statements is a collection of satirical vignettes about modern society, with riffs on runaway dogs, estrogen-fueled grandmothers, and meetings of Shopaholics Anonymous. The book is "imaginative and amusing, but with a disturbing bite," according to Susan Patrick in Canadian Book Review Annual. Donna Nurse wrote in Quill and Quire that Farrant's "unusual blend of parody and science fiction sweeps the reader along at a breathless pace."
Word of Mouth is "more serious in tone and content" than Farrant's previous books, according to Claire Wilkshire in Canadian Book Review Annual, and has a more ordered structure than either Raw Material or Altered Statements. The book essentially consists of two novellas, the first starring Sybilla, a nineteen-year-old welfare mom; the second examines a woman's relationship with her family, told from many different points of view. In Quill and Quire, Jamie Kastner wrote that the book "feels more like conversation than literature, a testament to Farrant's success at rendering the spoken word on paper."
In What's True, Darling, Farrant presents twenty short pieces that, according to a Publishers Weekly reviewer, "play the English language like a fine instrument while bemusing the sophisticated reader."
Girls around the House features what a Publishers Weekly reviewer called "jaunty, interconnected stories," narrated by former hippie Marion, who with her husband is struggling to keep control of her three almost-adult children. At the same time, she is also host to her bridge-playing mother-in-law. With stories about stocking up on condoms and beer for her kids, hiding her good underwear and favorite cheese from them, and about how she and her husband miss the "independence, wealth and the Open Road" they had imagined they would experience once their children grew up, the book's "saving grace is [Marion's] sense of irony and willingness to take responsibility for her frustrations," according to Publishers Weekly.
Darwin Alone in the Universe is a collection of very short stories that offer the author's unique perspectives on the concept of change and how people respond to it, as Farrant herself explained in her introduction to the book. Her characters seem to begin as ordinary—even boring—people nudged by the author toward the brink of absurdity, but never quite pushed over the edge. The result, wrote Margaret Gunning in January magazine, "defies analysis." The vignettes hover between the real and the fantastic, and satire unpredictably gives way to glimpses of reflection and open-minded curiosity. Gunning compared the collection to "an unexpected gift, funny, strange…."
My Turquoise Years: A Memoir is actually a coming-of-age novel set in Canada in the 1960s. Whereas Darwin Alone in the Universe offers more than forty quick looks at the way people interact with change, My Turquoise Years is a long-form exploration of how change—or the anticipation of change—affects a teenage girl and the family with whom she lives. Marion has lived with her aunt since she was five years old, abandoned by her mother though visited frequently by her seafaring father. An impending visit from her distant birth-mother turns Marion's life upside down and propels her extended foster family into a frenzy of activities designed to make a good impression. Library Journal contributor Jan Brue Enright called My Turquoise Years a "touching" and "humorous" look at growing in Canada.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Bloomsbury Review, September, 1995, review of Altered Statements, p. 28.
Books in Canada, November, 1991, review of Sick Pigeon, p. 43; October, 1993, review of Raw Material, p. 29; November, 1995, review of Altered Statements, p. 36.
Boulevard, January, 2000, Joseph Blake, feature article about Girls around the House.
Canadian Book Review Annual, 1994, p. 185; 1996, Susan Patrick, review of Altered Statements, and Claire Wilkshire, review of Word of Mouth, p. 183; 1997, review of What's True, Darling, p. 207.
Canadian Literature, spring, 1995, Jeanette Lynes, review of Raw Material, p. 181; autumn, 1997, Sharon R. Wilson, review of Altered Statements, p. 137.
Canadian Materials, November, 1991, review of Sick Pigeon, p. 360.
Focus, March, 2005, Sara Cassidy, feature article about My Turquoise Years.
Focus on Women, February, 2000, Marie Savage, feature article about Girls around the House.
January, July, 2003, Margaret Gunning, review of Darwin Alone in the Universe.
Library Journal, June 15, 2004, Jan Brue Enright, review of My Turquoise Years: A Memoir, p. 70.
Publishers Weekly, February 16, 1996, reviews of What's True, Darling and Girls around the House, p. 204.
Quill and Quire, October, 1991, review of Sick Pigeon, p. 33; July, 1993, review of Raw Material, p. 45; July, 1995, Donna Nurse, review of Altered Statements, p. 50; September, 1996, Jamie Kastner, review of Word of Mouth, p. 65.
Small Press, spring, 1992, review of Sick Pigeon, p. 78.
Vancouver Sun, October 8, 1996, interview by Malcolm Perry.