No soft pedalling
January 08th, 2015
These days, it’s hard to write a shocking novel. Chelsea Rooney, an MFA graduate of UBC’s creative writing program, and also a host of The Storytelling Show on Vancouver Co-op Radio, has given it her best shot with Pedal (Caitlin $21.95), an exploration of the largely avoided subject of the potential pleasure that can arise from sexual violation.
Rooney’s heroine is 25-year-old psychology grad student Julia Hoop who has been conducting interviews with “Molestas,” her slang term for women who don’t feel they were traumatized by being sexually molested as children. “The only shame I feel is because I do not feel any shame,” one of them says.
Julia’s somewhat morbid fascination with the subject matter of her thesis is made more disturbing by her empathy for adults who desire children. During her research she runs into her friend’s new roommate, Smirks, an athletic and attractive man who admits to being attractive to pre-pubescent girls, and she finds herself attracted to his “Caravaggio model” physique. Her mother is addled with dementia and her father, nicknamed Dirtbag, is an undisputed rapist who victimized Julia when she was young, so her thesis advisor, Bob, is apprehensive about encouraging her studies, troubled that her work might not be motivated by science.
When her thesis advisor and her boyfriend Thierry both part company with her simultaneously, Julia invites the shaggy, beafcake Smirks to accompany her on 6,000-kilometre bike trip in search of her father. The bike journey that gives rise to the title Pedal entails explicit sex, drugs, drinking and a very disturbing encounter in rural Saskatchewan–after which she is abandoned by Smirks.
Pedal (Caitlin 2014) $21.95 978-1-927575-56-7