Alumni Leesa Dean is launching her first collection of stories, Waiting for the Cyclone (Brindle & Glass). Check out her fantastic book trailer above! We asked her to share a favourite debut read with us:
I discovered Bad Behaviour by Mary Gaitskill about ten years ago, when I was still living in Montreal. I used to spend hours in a particular second hand bookstore and I’d often buy random books and take them straight to Parc Jeanne-Mance, especially on summer days when it was too hot to do anything but read in the shade. I pulled Bad Behaviour from the shelf, intrigued by the name, and bought it because of the cover photo—a woman, down on the ground, pounding her fist against the floor. The image radiated such power. I wanted to be near it.
Bad Behaviour was published in 1988, at a time when not a lot of authors were writing about women who subvert gender stereotypes. The characters in these stories are misfits, intelligent prostitutes and strong women who are sexually submissive just for the thrill. I read the book in a single sitting, unwilling to put it down, not even for a meal. When I finished, I wandered down to the loft where I was living with too many people, ate some dumplings, and ordered the rest of Mary Gaitskill’s books online. Bad Behaviour was her first—it seemed impossible that something so electric, so crafted yet raw, could be a debut short story collection.