Winner: Mary Scorer Award for Best Book by a Manitoba Publisher
You could be married for over 10 years and still not know your spouse. You might think you know everything about your dad but still he surprises you at your mother’s death bed. You think you know everyone in your small town but you’ll never know the dark secret your drinking buddy hides in his heart.
With control, wit, and brilliance, Michelle Berry explores the hidden depths between individuals, families, and communities. Dysfunctional characters create tension in situations where they teeter on the edge of life. Psychological or situational twists pop readers’ eyes wide open and force them to pay attention. Berry uses rapid-fire dialogue to build tension and emotion. Despite the underlying dark tones, the stories carry life and hope, human kindness—and strangeness.
Each story is a vivid snapshot of a raw moment in the lives of people at a crossroads. A married couple in the title story, “I Still Don’t Even Know You,” question the foundation of their relationship during a winter getaway. In “The Cat,” a life of endless purgatory stretches before a newly-wed husband. The wives in “Five Old Crows,” contemplate ways to pass the time ranging from murder to writing. And the title character in “Martin” drives around a boring country town with a shotgun in his car, his dissatisfaction with his empty life mounting as townspeople talk about recent mysterious murders.
Winner: Mary Scorer Award for Best Book by a Manitoba Publisher
"In her latest collection, I Still Don’t Even Know You, Berry delivers working-class drama from her Peterborough perch. Peterborough is proving to be the ideal address from which to write about sadness, loss, comic despair and resilience in the lives of everyday people...Berry’s brand of Dirty Realism is pungent, angst-ridden, florid and desperate. In other words, it’s wretchedly perfect."
- The Toronto Star
"Berry convincingly and often humorously reveals how difficult – or even impossible – it is to know one another...Berry makes the strange ordinary and vice versa. Her perception and compassion are immense; flawed characters are treated with respect and an obvious desire for comprehension. I Still Don’t Even Know You combines style and substance for a richly rewarding experience."
- The Globe and Mail
Through Michelle Berry's I Still Don't Even Know you, "readers become privy to moments of improbable connection and agonizing intimacy. These captivating stories hinge on scenes that are painful to read, yet impossible to look away from...Berry extends (her) narratives beyond obvious conclusions and illuminates characters from unexpected angles."
- Quill and Quire
"Berry has a gift for evoking the exact mood of each story...Her ability to travel across decades, genders and ages is impressive. She grasps the heart of the matter and shapes each story's events accordingly."
- Winnipeg Free Press
"A rock-solid collection."
- "The stories in I still don't even know you are layered and full of exquisite surprises. Michelle Berry expertly details people you know, and people you hope you never will - but either way I still don't even know you is spectacular. Not to mention a whole lot of fun."
-- Emily Schultz, author of Heaven is Small
- "You'll recognize Berry's characters right away because they live just down the street, at the intersection of everything you ever wanted and what you really have."
-- Peter Darbyshire, author of Please and The Warhol Gang
- Is the title, "I Still Don't Even Know You" appropriate to this collection. If so, why?
- The mother's fear in "The Good Little Girl" is that her daughter, Missy, will turn out to be just like her. Do you think Missy will be like her mother? If so, what does she do to show that this will happen? And is this, after all, a bad thing?
- In "Dogs" the main character is a writer. She mentions that if she could just name the dog in the story she is writing then everything that is going on around her, and everything in her story, will turn out all right. However, the woman herself is never named in the main story. Neither is her husband. Is this important to the story? If so, why?
- In "The Cat" Nigel meets a young girl in the hospital emergency room. What do you think has happened to her? Why is it significant that Nigel meets her?
- The story, "Making Spirits Bright" has a very unusual structure. Can you discuss the structure and explain why it is unusual?
- "Henderson Has Scored for Canada" is based on the 1972 hockey games between Canada and Russia. How do the games mirror what is happening in Maggie's home life? Is Maggie's misinterpretation of what is happening around her believable?
- In "Drowning" Laura and Doug come to a stand still. What do you think would happen if the story continued on?
- What is Julie trying to tell Steve in the story, "Convenience"? Does he understand what she is saying to him?
- In "Every Summer, in Every Watery Town all over the World, There is at Least One Drowning," Marianne tries to keep her two worlds separate. What happens when the two worlds collide and why is this appropriate for the story? Is the ending depressing or do you, as reader, actually feel relief?
- In "Be Kind to Your Children" the little kids on the beach see the patients as "a bunch of lousy angels." What does this signify to the reader? What does it signify to Meg? Does it change Meg's opinion of her work and life?
- Is there any discernible reason for the ordering of the stories in this collection? Are there linked themes? If so, what are they?
- What is your favourite story and why?
- What is your least favourite story and why?
- Even though the characters all feel that they don't really know each other -- no matter how hard they try -- do you feel this is true of them? In real life does anyone ever really know anyone else?
Michelle Berry has been widely published in many Canadian literary magazines, national newspapers, and anthologies. She is the author of seven books of fiction, two novels of which have been published in the UK as well as in Canada. She has published two collections of short stories with Turnstone Press, I Still Don't Even Know You and How To Get There From Here. Turnstone Press also re-released four of Berry's previously published books: Margaret Lives in the Basement, What We All Want, Blur, and Blind Crescent. Berry is a reviewer for The Globe and Mail, and teaches at the University of Toronto and Humber College. Born in California and raised in Victoria, B.C., Berry now lives in Peterborough, ON with her family.