"Cover before striking," a warning to those about to innocently strike a match to be careful not to burn their fingers.
Unsettling relationships and situations that are on the cusp of igniting a flame, are at the heart of Pricilla Uppal’s first book of short stories. Published by DundurnPress, Cover Before Striking contains 13 short stories that push the protagonists to extremes, keeping readers at the edge of their seats waiting for the train wreck to unfold.
In Recipes For Dirty Laundry, Priscilla Uppal delightfully blends stain removing tips with the fragile storyline of a family.
“Tear stains: You’re the only one who notices them.”
With the delicate precision of a surgeon about to slice through the body, Priscilla Uppal deploys her writing charm on her stories, keeping us constantly on our toes. The rawness of her writing is unsettling; the endings sometimes unnerving -- yet, we motor through, unable to pull ourselves away from that train wreck.
Delving into topics that we can relate to, her protagonists feel like the messed-up neighbours next door. In her story The Lillies, Priscilla Uppal alludes to menopause as her character Violet is attacked by flowers. Well, at least Violet assumes that her husband would blame her bizarre actions on menopause, and she worries what her neighbours may think, feeling old, too old, talking to Dr. Affiffi about every little worry and strange occurrence. Was there any sane way she begin to explain how she’d begun to feel like a chemical factory that was breaking down?
“Onions are also a wonderful device when you need to cry and don’t want to explain your tears.”
As Priscilla Uppal writes in the title short story, Cover Before Striking,
“Every match a possibility. Every attraction a distraction”, her book is also an eclectic collection of stories, and in each one, a character seems to be waiting to be pushed over the cliff…figuratively, of course. The book is a rare collection of literary excellence of the likes of Margaret Atwood.