Cover Design by Melody Young
“In Gillian Herbert's Spare Scenes, we are drawn into a world of family, reminding us on every page that we are our history, which also becomes the fiber of our children's lives. A warm, often intimate, certainly compelling collection of stories.”
- Victoria Zackheim, Editor, Exit Laughing: How Humor Takes the Sting Out of Death
When I dug through a file of old family papers I launched a journey of exploration. Flipping through faded photos I recalled in raw black and white detail the moments that shaped my relationship with her parents. In this collection scenes from my youth reveal how illness, disability, and war combined with parental hopes, fears, and delusions to define my family. I re-enter my experience as a child and young adult to present the stories from a youthful perspective, while steadily chipping away at the hard rock of my beliefs to reveal what my younger self could not see—the cost of keeping my father's secrets. My style of British understatement adds power to unsettling discoveries that sweep both writer and reader from Canada to England to Egypt and back to England.
“Gillian Herbert is a writer who understands that clarity and emotionality aren't mutually exclusive. Rendered sparingly by an author who possesses an extraordinary sense of self, the often-devastating truths exposed in Spare Scenes distil whole leagues of feeling and plumb intense psychological depths. Herbert's temperate words are a salve for her wounded family, yet ultimately provide a measure of comfort to us all.”
-Erin McKnight, Writer and Publisher