Melissa Bull's debut short story collection The Knockoff Eclipse and Other Stories hums with the immediacy of distant and future worlds. Firmly rooted in the streets of Montreal and its many neighbourhoods and subcultures, Bull zooms in on the female experience while playing with societal expectation and literary convention. Spattered with bits of French, many of the stories pull back the covers on the intersection between French and English Canada.
In the titular story "The Knockoff Eclipse," we're transported to a future world where women's clothing quite literally advertises their supposed wants and desires. Wanda and Henry meet in an old divebar turned trendy futurist café. "I used to be a model. But I got tired of people looking at me," she tells Henry. The theme of looking or being looked at runs through the entire collection, female bodies and the women who inhabit them must constantly contend with the masculine gaze, which is often internalized in such a way that it seems inescapable.
The Knockoff Eclipse is dark like Duras, flippant comme Sagan, with elements of the surreal running through. These stories are modern feminist fables for the reader who is decidedly uninterested in upholding the moral of the story as it's been traditionally told.
Melissa Bull is a writer and editor, as well as a French-to-English translator of fiction, essays, and plays. She is the editor of Maisonneuve magazine's "Writing from Quebec" column and has published her poetry, essays, articles, and interviews in a variety of publications including Event, Lemon Hound, subTerrain, Prism, and Matrix. Her translation of Nelly Arcan's Burqa de Chair (Burqa of Skin) was published by Anvil Press in 2014, and her collection of poetry, Rue, was published in 2015, also by Anvil. Her translation of Marie-Sissi Labrèche's novel, Borderline, is forthcoming. Originally from Montreal, Melissa currently lives in Norwich, England.