On Thursday 26, local author Janette Platana held the launch of her new collection of short stories, A Token of My Affliction. In the intimate setting of The Theatre on King, the gathered community shared in the alternating humour and poignancy of Platana’s work.
The night started with cake pops and “Halo and Epiphany,” Platana’s story of youth and gay suicide. Despite the heavy subject, the story bounces with humour through Platana’s zany similes and deadpan style. Focusing on a camping trip between young adults on the cusp of university, Platana brings out religious irony and humorously inverts the Canadian lit form of the outdoor narrative with a final injection of human tragedy.
Next, Joe Davis, Kate Story, and Ryan Kerr tackled the story “How It Is” as a three-hander. With a plot open to interpretation, “How It Is” examines the demons in all of us through the speculative genre. The vocal performances by Platana’s team of fellow writers brought the story to life.
“It takes a lot of people to make stories,” she remarked before the reading.
The final story read, “Easter” tackles the question of forgiveness and when someone cuts in front of you in line. Platana examines the “intense level of intimacy” required “for strangers to engage in rude behaviour in public.” In fact, if you wish to send some “ex-friend cards,” you can find some pre-made on Platana’s website: janetteplatana.com/about-the-stories/easter
Platana, a self-identified feminist since 19, mentioned that in addition to the stories read, A Token of My Affliction includes the story “Feminine Protection,” which represents a happy abortion story.
“Since novels first emerged… novels were for ladies,” said Platana, “The truth is Canadian women like short stories, so it’s not hard to get published. But you get marketed a certain way.”
She spoke of the classification “chicklit,” how “a lot of people refuse it immediately” due to this designation.
“I’m a literary writer… I get complaints that I’m too erudite, academic. If it’s women’s writing is it chicklit or is it literature? That’s the anxiety that women writers struggle with.”
She referenced T.S. Eliot’s concept of the “anxiety of influence” – that a male author labours under the anxiety induced by the great male authors who came before him, saying that the anxiety of influence for female authors is “Am I going to be dismissed?”
As for aspiring writers, or artists of any medium, Platana offered this advice: “The work of art you’re making is yourself.”