This Cake is for the Party: Stories

This Cake is for the Party: Stories

Sarah Selecky / May 29, 2020

This Cake is for the Party Stories Finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and longlisted for the Frank O Connor Award Sarah Selecky s first book takes dead aim at a young generation of men and women who often set out with t

  • Title: This Cake is for the Party: Stories
  • Author: Sarah Selecky
  • ISBN: 9780887625251
  • Page: 228
  • Format: Paperback
  • Finalist for the 2010 Scotiabank Giller Prize and longlisted for the 2010 Frank O Connor Award Sarah Selecky s first book takes dead aim at a young generation of men and women who often set out with the best of intentions, only to have plans thwarted or hopes betrayed These are stories about friendships and relationships confused by unsettling tensions bubbling beneath Finalist for the 2010 Scotiabank Giller Prize and longlisted for the 2010 Frank O Connor Award Sarah Selecky s first book takes dead aim at a young generation of men and women who often set out with the best of intentions, only to have plans thwarted or hopes betrayed These are stories about friendships and relationships confused by unsettling tensions bubbling beneath the surface A woman who plans to conceive ends up in the arms of her husband s best friend a man who baby sits a neglected four year old ends up questioning his own dysfunctional relationship a chance encounter at a gala event causes a woman to remember when she volunteered for a nightmarish drug testing clinic another woman discovers that her best friend who is about to get married has just had an affair a young teenager tries to escape from her controlling father and finds an unexpected lover on a bus ride home a wife tries to overcome her dying mother in law s resistance to her marriage by revealing to her own strange aural stigmata a friend tries to talk another friend out of dating her cheating ex boyfriend and a superstitious candle maker confesses to a tempestuous relationship that implodes spectacularly Sarah Selecky is a talented young writer who evokes a generation teetering on the shoals of consumerism and ambiguous s Reminiscent of early Atwood, with echoes of Lisa Moore and Barbara Gowdy, these absorbing stories are about love and longing, stories that touch us in a myriad of subtle and affecting ways.

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      Published :2020-02-17T10:47:52+00:00

    About "Sarah Selecky"

      • Sarah Selecky

        I m the author of This Cake Is for the Party and the creator of Story Is a State of Mind, The Little Bird Writing Contest, and The Story Intensive.This Cake Is for the Party was a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and the Commonwealth Prize for Best First Book in Canada and the Carribean, and it was longlisted for the Frank O Connor Prize When I m not writing, I spend time thinking about how to connect to creativity I help writers bring insight and innovation to their work by writing and speaking about contemplative writing.I ve been teaching people how to write mindfully since 2001, when I ran my first creative writing workshop out of my living room in Victoria, BC My living room writing school grew too big for my living room, and I transformed it into an online writing program in 2011 Two years later, I opened The Story Intensive, a creative writing course and mentorship program that runs every fall, and includes guest lectures with Margaret Atwood and George Saunders.I am an alumna of the Humber School for Writers and The Banff Centre, and I graduated from the University of British Columbia with an MFA in Creative Writing.


    1. The ten stories in This Cake are mostly (with one or two exceptions) first person narratives, and each of the stories deals with a particular grasp on human sadness and disappointment. In Throwing Cotton, the protagonist struggles with suspicions of her husband's infidelity while simultaneously trying to get pregnant. In Watching Atlas, the male protagonist deals with the reality of a dead-end job and the creeping anger he feels with his partner's childhood pal, a drunk who is all too ready to d [...]

    2. This is going to be one of the tougher reviews for me to write. There's a lot going on in these ten seemingly quiet, unassuming stories. Each one is its own world yet there's a few common threads that run through them all.The first is a quiet desperation. Each of Selecky's characters--all beautifully realized with a quirky yet minimalist touch--seem to be desperately searching for somethingunderstanding, friendship, love, success So at times, they all seem to come from the same village. Yet, eac [...]

    3. Selecky is a 21st Century Canadian Ann Beattie. This is a remarkably consistently strong collection that should, in my view, have won the 2010 Giller Prize.Her characters lead complicated lives. Sometimes the complications are of their own making - the 'ironic bride' who can't resist having an affair immediately before her wedding, the teenage girl whose rebellion coincides with her widowed father's descent into abject misery, the woman who's finally ready to have a child but isn't, really. Othe [...]

    4. I enjoyed these stories, but would like to read them in print. This collection was one of my early forays on an e-reader. Short stories are hard to read on a device because a human reader needs to be able to quickly flip back and forth and re-read significant parts to understand how the writer led him or her to the a-ha moment.

    5. I never was into short stories. I thought they were a waste of time. I guess I just thought the novel was the better, "higher" format of the written word. But then I realized that, reading short stories is what made me fall in love with reading. After all, it was in grammar school where I read all of those short stories in whatever anthology textbook we were required to read in class.I came across Sarah Selecky because of Twitter. I follow the Canadian writer Margaret Attwood. She recommended re [...]

    6. A compilation of short stories from Sarah Selecky filled with angst-ridden, desperate characters. Some stories are descriptive with no focus, whereas some are purely random and did not capture any emotion or connection for me. It fell sorely short of all the reviews I had read and I was hoping for greater vividness of character and imagination on the author's part. In comparison to Jhumpa Lahiri's incredible short stories, these plots and characters failed to resonate with me. Lahiri's prose and [...]

    7. The Short of It:Never has such an unassuming collection of stories held my attention from beginning to end.The Rest of It:I love quiet stories and if they center around relationships, even better. From the very first page, I found myself falling right into this book. You know that feeling? That feeling where everything around you stands still and all you can focus on is the book in front of you? That is the feeling I had while reading these stories. When this book was in my hands, nothing else s [...]

    8. A man with a hard decision to make about the neighbour’s boy. A woman who tries to sell health products to her friends. Two couples entangled in infidelity. A woman writing a letter to her estranged husband’s mother. A young woman in love with a man… and his ex-girlfriend. A fire in the candle factory.These are a few of the stories in Sarah Selecky’s This Cake Is for the Party, nominated for the Giller prize in 2010.I read this book because I’m currently taking Sarah’s Story is a Sta [...]

    9. Sarah Selecky dazzles with ten taut, smartly searing stories in her first published collection, This Cake Is for the Party. Selecky levels her gaze upon a younger generation whose best intentions unravel in the face of hidden truths, betrayal, and unsettling tensions riding just below the surface.Stand out pieces include "Go-Manchura," in which a lonesome introvert embroils herself in a health food pyramid scheme, and the heartbreaking "Where Are You Coming From, Sweetheart?", in which a young g [...]

    10. This Cake is so depressing. But the writing is amazing. I kept flipping and flipping and stayed up late reading. There aren't enough stars in the rating system to express how impressed I am with this book.Sarah Selecky makes me think of a younger, hipper Alice Munro. The writing is that clear, and that deep. The book is filled with juicy details that make every character distinct - hard to do with ten short stories where new people are introduced every few pages.Like with Alice Munro's writing, [...]

    11. I LOVED this collection of 10 short stories by Sarah Selecky. This Cake is for the Party is full of unexpected enjoyment. I admire how this collection is like a snack cakemething I crave! I would highly suggest this to anyone looking for a unique new writer. I am giving it a 5 star and sharing it with my college literature professors.My rating system is as follows:5 stars - Excellent, Worth Every Penny, Made It Into My Personal Library!4 stars - Great book, but not a classic. 3 stars - Good over [...]

    12. A brilliant collection of short fiction from highly perceptive debut author, Sarah Selecky. Wry, clever, complex, and beautifully crafted, it's no wonder This Cake Is for the Party was shortlisted for the 2010 Scotiabank Giller Prize. Whether self-deprecating or self-entitled, Selecky's characters are vivid, intense, and realistic—most unable to overcome their all-too-human foibles. Hesitant, lonely, guarded, and sometimes outright suspicious, nearly all of them are unhappy in their relationsh [...]

    13. I read this book as part of my summer book club. It’s not a book I would normally have read, which in my opinion is never a bad thing. There were some stories I liked and some that I didn’t. I did see once discussing it with some pretty smart ladies that each story could lead to a lot of different conclusions, depending on your perspective. I think maybe I would have enjoyed it more if I hadn’t felt rushed to finish for a deadline and had spent more time reflecting as I read. It’s nice [...]

    14. This is the first time I've purchased a book because it made on of the "big" lists (in this case, The 2010 Giller Prize list). I was drawn to the book for a couple of reasons: because the title is so intriguing, because the cover is so eye-catching, and because I am addicted to short stories.I enjoyed this book a lot. It covers interesting turf. The characters struggle with relationships (some more than others) and they live in a world that is familiar to me geographically and, in some cases, th [...]

    15. Strong collection without any weak entries added to fill out the book (a frequent problem with short story collections, imho). Most of the stories seem just long enough. They develop satisfying characters and give you some real meat to dig into. Surprising but believable shifts are a delight throughout.My only complaint is that I'd like a wider scope of topics, characters and settings. There's much to explore in the dissatisfied lives of (relatively) privileged young adults, but sometimes I was [...]

    16. Picked this up at the library because I'm thinking of taking an online class from this writer. Because I had a lot of trouble with insomnia this week, I had extra time to read (always look on the bright side). I tore through the entire collection in no time flat and was impressed overall. The stories were very well-observed slices of life that were just indirect enough that I could put the pieces together myself but not so open-ended that I wondered what the point was. These stories left me intr [...]

    17. My first foray into the short story genre and I was not let down. They're clever and wicked. Just slightly mysterious until the last line, without giving the complete story away. Just enough to make you go "Hmmm". On a side note, I also got the suspicion that I found out a lot about the author herself. I got the sense she writes about what she actually knows, what she has actually experienced in life; dinner parties with other creative types and slowly their secret lives coming out after one two [...]

    18. A beautiful collection of quiet, meaningful stories centered around relationships, human imperfection, and the sharing of food. As is always the case with such collections, some of the stories impacted me more than others, but each is a gem of its own accord. Sarah Selecky's writing is exquisite and graceful, not at all flashy or obtrusive. Possibly the best short story collection I've ever read, and I'm greatly looking forward to eventually reading the novel she's currently writing on one of th [...]

    19. The characters in these diffident, deceptively casual slices of life are all pretty much in denial despite their quirky attempts to smooth over the chasms lurking just below their awareness.unfortunately, the feeling of unease that is an undercurrent in most of the stories, has translated itself to me so that I felt a bit like the broken plate on the cover, left with crumbs. and how weird that the title story for this collection is not included

    20. I was disappointed. The author's voice is incredibly confident. I was immediately drawn in to every single story. I just felt like they ended too soon.every time. It felt like a cop-out - like the author was trying too hard to be post-postmodern. Maybe I feel that way because I got so caught up in the few pages of each story that I felt betrayed when they ended so abruptly just when things would have gotten really interesting!

    21. I'm a sucker for a good short story compilation and Sarah Selecky knocks it out of the park with these little slice of love narratives from people who seem all too real. These are stories about our friends, our lovers, ourselves. I was really impressed with the way she was able to latch on to all these different stories but only leading us to one central conflict or story in each of them. That takes a strong writer with a lot of trust in her characters.

    22. I adore Sarah's writing and her blog. She is going to be a great, great writer and I could not finish these stories because they depressed me. Her characters - at least in the first 5 stories - felt so aimless and unaware, and their lives rather bleak. I couldn't bear reading anymore. But again, the writing is near perfection.

    23. It was refreshing to read a book of short stories. I'm currently using Sarah's daily writing prompts from her blog and I was curious to read her work. Her descriptions inspire and she got me thinking about writing short stories or essays instead of thinking of the overwhelming task of writing a book. Sarah is a true talent.

    24. Yawn. The author is technically skilled*, but it hardly seems important when each of the slice of life stories about suburban, middle-aged hippies seem to blur together in an unexciting mass. Of the ten stories, I'd say there might—and this is a strong "might"—be one that's worthy of a re-read. This book is utterly pointless unless you have the burning desire to glimpse into the life of a pyramid scheme rep, candlemaker, or widow hosting a garage sale.*Side note: I wish authors would stop th [...]

    25. The writing is extraordinary - Sarah is an amazing writer. Truly.But this book reminded me why I generally don't like short stories. They were all so depressing and filled with not really very likeable characters. Confession: I didn't finish, so maybe there were delightful, happy characters in the last 1/3 of the book. But I couldn't do itEVER, if you LIKE that kind of story, Sarah's writing really is spectacular.

    26. The writing, the writing, the writing. In my opinion, superb. No one gets to borrow my copy because I know I'll be rereading this many times (like Jhumpa Lahiri's The Interpreter of Maladies. Yes, they're totally different but equally exceptional). Having said that, I admit that, with some books, I admire the craft of writing, the way things are expressed, the syntax, sometimes to the point of distraction. Then I'm not focusing on character development or plot. So again, for me, the writing, the [...]

    27. Uma delicia de ler, os contos são mega simples, as metáforas são inteligentes, o estilo minimalista e ao mesmo tempo tão rico, quase ao nível granular, de tão aproximado da verdade. Recomendo.

    28. All I know of Canada is based on DeGrassi, Justin Beiber, and Toronto’s Carnival. But reading Sarah Selecky’s book of short stories “This Cake Is For The Party” introduced me to a side of the great maple nation that many Americans such as myself have made no consideration of. Selecky’s short stories are a slice-of-Canadian life, and not surprisingly it’s a lot like what life is like for people south of the (Canadian) border: people struggling to make sense of their worlds, wading thr [...]

    29. Selecky surprised me right from the first lines with such a confident and wry voice. She brushes over topics of sex, children, death, religion, drugs etc. with an indifferent yet full of mocking tone. She never expresses anger, disapproval or contempt toward any of her characters directly, but somehow, beneath that wry writing is a satirical smile hidden so well and artistically.Her stories may start out with the ending, for example, "Where are you from sweetheart". However, readers soon realize [...]

    30. This book is so good, so amazingly well written. I really hope Sarah Selecky is planning to write more books sometime in the near future. Honestly, how did this author not win whichever literary contest she was a finalist in? These stories, all of the stories (with the exception of one, which I only skimmed), were just brilliant, succinct, understated, beautiful, and so realistic, so actually human with utterly flawed, utterly human characters, each of whom could be based on anyone or on anyone' [...]

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