Invermere writer James Rose is on a fiction-writing rampage, having published his first novel this spring and, now, releasing an anthology of interconnected novellas.
That someone can go from unpublished to four works of fiction in a matter of months (with a fifth possibly to follow this fall) may seem remarkable to many people, given that many authors take years to produce a single novel, but few who know Rose are surprised. Rose always has about half dozen or so projects or careers on the go simultaneously, and typically tackles them all at full speed, all at once.
The anthology, Boo Hoff, is comprised of three novellas, which Rose had actually mostly written last summer and fall, before polishing them off this summer (which goes some way to explaining the superhuman speed with which the anthology follows on the heels of Rose’s novel Chung Piece.)
The novellas, in order, are the Fastest Course in the West, Six and Sunny and the eponymous Boo Hoof.
“They all have a similar theme – the freedom to act,” Rose told the Pioneer. “It kind of stems from a Jim Harrison poem I really like called Barking. There’s a line in the poem: ‘I was a dog on a short chain/And now there’s no chain’. The line was a bit of inspiration for these stories.”
Fastest Course in the West is the story of a man running a marathon in Sacramento in hopes of qualifying for prestigious Boston Marathon, and details the physical and mental agony and also the ecstasy of long distance running.
“It’s a stream of consciousness style narrative, it goes into the thoughts in the runner’s head on a mile-by-mile basis,” said Rose, adding the story contains a good deal of personal experience, as Rose himself ran a marathon in Sacramento with the goal of making it to Boston.
“You can call it a memoir with imagination,” said Rose. “I did do exactly what the story’s narrator did, and I even give the narrator the name James. But there are a few parts of it that I made up, so it’s not a straight memoir…It’s such an interesting experience to run a marathon. It’s three hours of focused intensity and your mind wanders while you’re running. You can’t help it. I can’t anyway.”
Six and Sunny tell the tale of a young, workaholic management consultant, who gets sick of living his life out of a suitcase, gives up his career and works as a liftie at Panorama Mountain Resort. Then an unexpected visit from an ex-girlfriend changes everything, particularly after she mysteriously disappears.
“This story actually came out of an environmental reportage residency I did a few years ago at the Banff Centre,’ said Rose. “I was in my 20s, but most of the other people in the residency were in their 30s and 40s and some of them were telling me about this kind of great reckoning they felt they had as they went from their late 20s to their early 30s. I guess it’s a question of identity. Or a quarter life crisis…But I wanted to write a story in which the central character tries to avoid that great reckoning. So that’s what Six and Sunny is about, but then the main character has this element of his old world show up.”
The titular tale Boo Hoff recounts the story a resourceful young suburbanite in San Diego in search of herself who goes to the annual Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival with mixed horror and pleasure. “It is about finding one’s inner compass,” said Rose. “I always wanted to write a story about the stereotypical faithless young suburban professional, who fells the pull of these kind of cultural zeitgeist events, and how that helps them find or not find direction.”
Rose wrote the novellas using a mix of the freewheeling, seat-of-the-pants style he employed in writing Chung Piece (which is on evidence in the stream of consciousness of Fastest Course in the West) and the more structured, planned and plotted approach he often employs when writing for newspapers and magazines ( Six and Sunny, for instance, was very “strategic…completely outlined and cut out of a whole cloth,” said Rose).
Boo Hoff is available for free as an audio book on Spotify and iTunes, as a paperback through Amazon, and as an ebook through Amazon, Apple Books and other platforms. Rose once again had help on book design from Invermere designer Sarah Bennett, who also helped with Chung Piece.