After the accidental death of a high school-aged friend, the Lansing family has split along fault lines previously hidden under a patina of suburban banality. Every family's got secrets, but for the Lansings those secrets end up propelling them away from the border town of Lloydminster to foreign shores, prison, and beyond.
Told via thirty-three flash fiction narratives, fractured like the psyches of its characters, Border Markers is a collection with keen edges and tough language. It's a slice of prairie noir that straddles the line between magic and gritty realism. Recalling Tania Hershman's The White Road and Other Stories, as well as Robert Oren Butler's Severance, Jenny Ferguson's debut is an essential collection of commonplace tragedies and the ghosts of failures past.
Shortlisted for the Cover Design Award at the 2016 Alberta Book Publishing Awards!
Cover by: Kate Hargreaves
Gif by: GIFGRRL
Content Warnings for Border Markers: instances of drug use, instances of alcoholism, instances of intimate partner abuse, instances of deep grief.
"With the skill of detective fiction, Jenny Ferguson’s Border Markers immerses readers into its prairie city in search of the residents’ hinted-at secrets and troubled pasts. The novel, broken up into teasingly short (two to three-page) scenes, has a filmic quality as it jumps from character to character, crossing provincial and national boundaries, from past to present and back again. In this flash fiction structure, Ferguson lays bare the critical details of her characters’ lives with impressive restraint: words are spare and therefore sharp with meaning.
Underneath the thin, clear-cut structure of the book, however, a network of roots connects the novel’s families and their complex relationships to social expectations, the law, religion, and love."
↠ Rebecca Geleyn, The Fiddlehead.
"Border Markers ignites imagination and demands readers actively figure out how narrators are related (or not) and how these characters experience the aftershocks of mishaps."
↠ Ava Homa, Herizons Magazine.
"Jenny Ferguson’s literary debut, Border Markers, is a novel in stories. But it is at once something bigger and briefer than that. Bigger because it is more than a single plot or point of view, and briefer because it’s actually closer to novella length. [...] The stories [jump] from character to character, but despite the sometimes jarring shifts, Ferguson often masterfully weaves the flash pieces together in a way that flows and makes you want to keep reading."
↠ Will, J. Fawley, The Winnipeg Review.
“Border Markers is terrific and unsettling. Jenny Ferguson’s flash fiction debut serves up gritty kaleidoscopic fragments of quotidian tragedy in a small prairie city. Written in blunt and broken prose, as fractured as the lives they portray, these engrossing linked stories told from multiple perspectives relate the tough noir tale of a family and its outliers, all blue-collar victims with the urge to survive – prison, ghostly hauntings, foreign countries, daily life.”
↠ dee Hobsbawn-Smith, author of What Can’t Be Undone and Wildness Rushing In
“Reading Border Markers is like looking at one of those photographic mosaics, where a lion’s face is composed of tiny photographs of lions, each chosen for the way its play of dark and light contributes to the whole, yet each its own complete world. These chapters are flash fiction wonders. Delivered in a style both economical and replete, they resonate on live borders: between one province and another, between communion and solitude, between reality and the supernatural, between despair and hope.”
↠ Susan Holbrook, author of Throaty Wipes and Joy Is So Exhausting
Rebecca Geleyn reviews Border Markers, “This is a family neighbourhood“ in The Fiddelhead 275.
Ava Homa reviews Border Markers in Herizons 32.1.
Will J. Fawley reviews Border Markers at the Winnipeg Review.
Border Markers is featured on Read This, Then That at All Lit Up.
Interview at Lemon Biscuits and Other Literary Crumbs.
Interview at carte blanche's à la carte blog.