Vancouver writer Zsuzsi Gartner is the author of the critically acclaimed story collection All the Anxious Girls on Earth and the editor of Darwin’s Bastards: Astounding Tales From Tomorrow. Her fiction has been broadcast on CBC and NPR, and widely published, most recently in The Walrus, and Best Canadian Stories 2010 and 2011, Her latest book, Better Living Through Plastic Explosives, was a finalist for the 2011 Scotiabank Giller Prize.
About her contribution, Zsuszi says:
The wee culled piece below is from a story in my new collection called “Summer of the Flesh Eater,” about a group of metrosexuals whose cul-de-sac in North Vancouver has been “invaded” by a macho interloper. It’s a choral story – the point-of-view is first-person plural. They’re all being driven crazy by the reek from an animal rendering plant, the smell blowing across the inlet from East Vancouver. Trevor Masahara, one of the six protagonists, is most affected. The “Daily Odour Impact Diary” was actually sent to me by some dept. of Metro Vancouver when I complained about the stink the summer I was writing the story. At one point I was going to include excerpts from all of their “Smell Diaries” (see below) or just Trevor’s at intervals throughout the story. But there were so many other elements jostling for attention that I ended up dropping the notion (only to now regret not doing it). The smell and the plant are still part of the atmosphere of the story.
Trevor reached the point where the stench from the rendering plant was seriously interfering with his ability to concentrate on his day trading, claiming it was seeping into his bunker-like office through the doubled-glazed, enviro-foam-sealed windows. His relentless emails and phone calls to various bureaucracies resulted in the Metro Vancouver Air Quality Enforcement Office sending him, electronically, a “Daily Odour Impact Diary” in order to help the department “determine the community ambient odour objective for the West Coast Reduction Plant.”
At his urging, we dutifully filled out our diaries for weeks on end. We even had a competition going about who could come up with the most pungent descriptions of the odour. Trevor quickly took the lead with “Jizz of Satan”