Fleming, Anne 1964-
Fleming, Anne 1964-
PERSONAL: Born 1964.
ADDRESSES: Home— Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Office— Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies, University of British Columbia, Okanagan, 3333 University Way, Kelowna, British Columbia VIV 1V7, Canada.
CAREER: Writer, novelist, short-story writer, poet, screenwriter, playwright, and educator. University of British Columbia, Okanagan, British Columbia, Canada, assistant professor of creative writing. Instructor in creative writing at University of British Columbia, Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design, Kwantlen University College, and Douglas College. Former member of faculty, Banff Centre for the Arts Wired Writing Studio.
AWARDS, HONORS: Canadian National Award for fiction; Journey Prize shortlist; Danuta Gleed Award shortlist; Ethel Wilson Prize shortlist; Canadian Governor-General’s Award nomination for Pool-Hopping and Other Stories.
Pool-Hopping and Other Stories, Polestar Book Publishers (Victoria, British Columbia, Canada), 1998.
Anomaly, Raincoast Books (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada), 2005.
Contributor to anthologies, including Meltwater: Fiction and Poetry from the Banff Centre, edited by Edna Alford, Don McKay, Rhea Tregebove, and Rachel Wyatt, Banff Centre Press (Banff, Alberta, Canada), 2003; and Second Chapter: The Canadian Writers Photography Project, photography by Don Denton, Banff Centre Press (Banff, Alberta, Canada), 2004. Contributor to periodicals, including Toronto Life, New Quarterly, and the Georgia Straight.
SIDELIGHTS: Anne Fleming is an award-winning Canadian author and educator who has taught in universities throughout Canada. She currently serves as an assistant professor of creative writing at the University of British Columbia, Okanagan. As a lesbian, Fleming balances the expectations the literary world has for “queer writers” with her desire to write evocative fiction that does not serve as a showcase for lesbian theory or homosexual stereotype. “I’m not interested in manifesting lesbian theory in my fiction,” Fleming remarked to interviewer Zoe Whittall in This Magazine.“Theory and specific people: it’s not always an exact fit.” Whittall observed that “regardless of politics, Fleming’s work really comes down to a love of language and story.”
Fleming’s Pool-Hopping and Other Stories contains thirteen short stories. A reviewer in Herizons remarked that “most of Fleming’s characters are either living through, or attempting to understand the ‘defining moments’ in their lives.” George, the sixty-eight-year-old protagonist of “You Would Know What to Do,” has lost his wife and is estranged from his gay son. He is no longer the head of the “happy family” that he perceives himself to be and, in his clouded thinking, a desperate move is required to restore the balance. In an attempt to reconnect with his family, he considers robbing a bank. The reader follows George as he makes his fateful decision. Craig, the narrator of “Solar Plexus,” a seventeen-year-old who looks many years older than he is, moves carefully but deliberately to convince a girl whose father is dying of cancer to sleep with him. Abruptly, he goes too far, with unexpected results. A group of lesbian friends gathers for Christmas in “Atmospherics,” where Susan resents the presence of punk-rock chick Marla, her ex’s new lover. Susan is pregnant by artificial insemination, and when she discovers that lesbian Marla got pregnant the old-fashioned way, her attitude toward her softens. In the title story, Julie endures a heat wave and reflects on her past after the death of her twin, and recalls a time when she and her friends bested another heat wave by trespassing in their wealthier neighbors’ swimming pools. “Most of Fleming’s stories leave you wanting so much you ache,” observed the reviewer in Herizons.“At once ruthlessly precise with her descriptions... and generous to her characters, she makes a bracing, truthful debut with these thirteen stories,” commented a Publishers Weekly reviewer.
By all outward appearances, the Riggs family, featured in Fleming’s novel Anomaly, are a normal, happy family. The family consists of two parents, a mischievous brother, and two sisters. However, the anomaly of the title is represented by Carol, an albino, and how her condition influences her and the people around her. The story centers around mother Rowena, her daughters Carol and Glynnis, and the aged girl-guide troop leader Miss Beryl Balls, a tough but wise “old spinster” who has never really been able to come out of the closet. “Fleming faultlessly captures the range and register of these four voices, and each is equally strong and distinctive,” commented Claire Robson in Herizons. Fleming’s story follows Carol and Glynnis from childhood into the tumult of adolescence, when Carol takes up a punk rock lifestyle and Glynnis struggles to deal with her nascent lesbian feelings. The girls must also deal with their issues as siblings, including the perpetual specter of a disabling injury Carol once inflicted on Glynnis. There is “nothing precious about these growing pains, and the two central characters are exquisitely drawn,” commented a Publishers Weekly contributor. As the girls navigate the difficult terrain of adolescence and their own conflicted relationship with each other, Rowena becomes drawn more and more to the religious life of the ministry, while Miss Balls nurtures precious memories of an un-consummated relationship she had with another nurse during the war. “Fleming’s ability to fully inhabit the consciousness of her characters is flawless, as are her portraits of the ordinary and extraordinary life of adolescent girls,” remarked a Kirkus Reviews critic. Booklist reviewer Maureen O’Connor remarked: “This first novel is a triumph of language and story.”
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES
Booklist, August 1, 2006, Maureen O’Connor, review of Anomaly, p. 40.
Herizons, summer, 2000, review of Pool-Hopping and Other Stories, p. 31; spring, 2006, Clare Robson, review of Anomaly, p. 34.
Kirkus Reviews, May 15, 2006, review of Anomaly, p. 482.
Publishers Weekly, February 22, 1999, review of Pool-Hopping and Other Stories, p. 67; May 22, 2006, review of Anomaly, p. 26.
Anne Fleming Home Page, http://annefleming.ca (December 20, 2006).
Banff Centre Web site, http://www.banfcentre.ca/ (December 20, 2006), biography of Anne Fleming.
Eighteenth Vancouver International Writers and Readers Festival Web site, http://www.writersfest.bc.ca/ (December 20, 2006), biography of Anne Fleming.
This Magazine, http://www.thismagazine.com/ (September, 2005), Zoe Whittall, “Dyke Type,” profile of Anne Fleming.
University of British Columbia, Okanagan, Department of Creative Studies Web site, http://web.ubc.ca/okanagan/ (December 1, 2006), biography of Anne Fleming.*