by Claudia Dey
Eugenia Ledoux wakes one morning to a note on the kitchen table: “Gone to save the world. Sorry. Yours, Sheb Woolly Ledoux. Asshole.” Eugenia is nine years old, a synaesthesiac and a tightrope walker. She adores her father and his lunatic charms; she loves that he takes her fishing in the middle of the night and calls her Stunt. Sheb has always promised he’ll one day take her to the moonscape of northern Ontario, where astronauts train; instead he writes a note, blows up a shoulder-pad factory, and leaves. His heartbroken daughter is left behind with her mother, the sharp-edged former ingenue Mink, and her sister, the death-obsessed and hauntingly beautiful Immaculata.
After a fake funeral for Sheb, Mink vanishes too. Eugenia and Immaculata, left alone, double in age overnight. Immaculata becomes a swan-like giantess, and soon finds her calling caring for Leopold, a diseased and irresistible malcontent down the street. Eugenia, however, stays the same: dark and diminutive, and bereft. She finds herself a bicycle and sets off to track down her father, encountering an astronaut and a waitress named Cupid along the way.
Stunt is the first novel by one of Canada’s most acclaimed playwrights. Like synaesthetic Eugenia, your senses will be addled as Dey’s words take on colours, tastes, and smells, somehow coming to mean more than you thought they did; they depict, with compassionate hilarity and luminous heartbreak, the love between a girl and her father.