"Inland Passage" and Other Stories Quotes


“Being a lesbian by now, even in those conservative circles is, well, admirably scandalous. And then you have a career…”

Jessica (“Slogans”)

Jane Rule is one of Canada’s groundbreaking authors of fiction with lesbian characters. Her first novel charted the trajectory of a lesbian affair and was published at a time when homosexuality was still a criminal offense in Canada. This observation by Jessica in Inland Passage reveals how much had changed over the ensuing two decades.

The virtue of a reclusive husband is the illusion of freedom he may provide for his wife once the children are old enough for school and social lives of their own.

Narrator (“His nor Hers”)

An author who once famously complained that the media was treating her like she the “only lesbian in Canada” should likely not be expected to produce many opening sentences that sound like something from Jane Austen novel. And, indeed, the opening to “His nor Hers” stands uniquely separated from those which the other stories commence. From this auspicious beginning unrolls a tale that at times does seem to be a concerted attempt at situating an Austen-like romance in the real world of the 20th century.

One day, when he was thirty-five or perhaps forty, he might tell her the story of the pop-up toaster and his asking for jam, and they would both laugh at the boy he’d been, even at thirty. Now he was a man, eating a second piece of cake under his nearly paid for roof, knowing he didn’t deserve his luck any more than that woman deserved her toaster.

Narrator (“The Investment Years”)

In addition to knowing how to open a story, Rule proves herself quite adept at bringing that story to a conclusion with a pithy ending summing up of events that also subtly hint at the implication of consequences. The toaster is, of course, essential to the narrative, but this tale of a toaster is really all about the cake. And the cake is about far more than eating dessert.

“We’re in open sea only two hours each way. All the rest is inland passage.”

Troy McFadden, (“Inland Passage”)

Having just met and introduced themselves, Troy McFadden and Fidelity “Fido” Munroe are discussing the itinerary of the cruise. Troy has observed that thick mist obscures much and creates the effect of going nowhere. Fido respond with the news she’s heard: it rarely becomes rough going. Troy’s immediate response to that is packed with thematic meaning and metaphorical expression. The title of the volume is not taken from this passage of conversation for merely random and capricious reasons. Life, the author seems to suggest, is mostly inland passage even when the attempt is for something a bit less predictable.

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