This Magazine

Progressive politics, ideas & culture

September-October 2011

Book review: Rebecca Rosenblum’s The Big Dream

Jessica RoseWebsite@NMTblog

Rebecca Rosenblum’s “The Big Dream,” published by Biblioasis.The characters in Rebecca Rosenblum’s second collection of short stories, The Big Dream, have one thing in common: they work at Dream Inc., a lifestyle magazine publisher struggling to stay afloat. Like the troubled company, most face an uncertain future, navigating their problems from trial separations and parenthood to a terminally ill parent.

Drawing from her own experiences working in an office, Rosenblum creates characters who, despite their canned lunches and obligatory office parties, are anything but dull. Anyone who has ever worked inside the partial walls of a cubicle, ignoring the constant hum of a computer, while counting the minutes until lunch, will easily relate.

There is Clint, a contract employee, slurring his words as the result of an infected wisdom tooth he can’t afford to have pulled. There’s Andrea, the new hire, who is “straight out of school” and “as jittery as a jailbreak.” And among the most memorable are Mark and Sanjeet, the company’s CEO and COO, who are likely to blame for the company’s demise.

Rosenblum has crafted a reputation as a Canadian writer to watch for, especially after her 2008 collection of short stories, Once, earned her the Metcalf-Rooke Award. The Big Dream only accelerates this expectation. Each short story is rich with memorable dialogue, capturing the empty banter, complaints, and flirtations that often fill the halls of an office. Rosenblum’s natural dialogue and descriptive prose result in a collection that successfully depicts the complex balancing act between home and work that so often define the lives of office workers who struggle to stay afloat inside and outside of their cubicles.

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