Sunday Shorts – “Snap,” by Shawn Syms

I went to Montreal this week and got to do a reading from Light. It was a great night, and I have to put my thoughts together for a post, but right now I’m in still the middle of the never-ending-renovation (which is why last week’s Sunday Shorts didn’t happen) and am struggling to put words together that aren’t all variations on “I hate my house so much.”

I don’t, of course, and the feeling will pass… but…

Handling various angry feelings (as well as frustration, and a wee bit of helplessness) got even better when I added an extra boost of anxiety by renewing my passport. Nothing like mailing away every piece of ID you have to make you feel calm and collected.

I considered booking some time with my psychiatrist – I don’t see him very often, and I realize how privileged and lucky I am that my bouts with medication were situational and transient. But I sure learned when I needed to ask for help (the hard way, of course). I have huge respect for the therapy world. They handle so very much.

It turned out I got through the couple of rough days okay, but it reminded me of one of Shawn Syms‘s great tales from Nothing Looks Familiar.


“Snap,” by Shawn Syms

There are jobs I cannot imagine doing despite the background I had in university. I was well on my way to becoming a therapist or social worker of some kind before an advisor made it very clear that it would be a terrible idea. In a placement, I learned fast that I didn’t have an “off” switch. I would go home, and think about the horrible realities of the day, and sleep terribly, and go back completely unrefreshed and not at all ready to compartmentalize and be useful.

“Snap” is a blazing story in something of this vein – a therapist who’s job it is to work with convicted sex offenders, reaching the end of his tether. Stress mounts, dreams turn dark, and whether or not Jake has it in him to make it through this time balances on the edge throughout the story.

You can always count on Syms to go somewhere authors rarely go. His tales often involve characters just like these: people removed from sexual “norms” (whatever that can mean varying story by story), the criminal, the psychologically dented, the lost and tossed aside. Syms walks the line of realism but still injects enough empathy that as a reader I’m often left bemused about my opinions on some facet of law, sexuality, or “norm.”

Put simpler? He always makes me think. And that’s a wonderful thing.


Until next week, keep it short. And hey – as always – if you’ve read some novellettes, novellas, or short stories you think I’d like, do tell me. I’m always on the lookout.


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