Vincent Panella grew up in Queens and now lives in Vermont. His stories have appeared in recent issues of The MacGuffin and The Paterson Review. Two others will soon be published in Voices in Italian Americana and Carbon Culture Review. Three of his books are The Other Side, a memoir subtitled Growing up Italian in America, Cutter’s Island, a novel about Julius Caesar which won a ForeWord prize in 2000, and Lost Hearts, a story collection published in 2010. After graduating from the Iowa Writer’s Workshop he worked as reporter for the Dubuque Telegraph-Herald, then as a writing teacher at Vermont Law School. He can be reached at vincentpanella.com
Vincent, in “Canada,” Bobby finds himself up in Vermont in limbo, his car with a blown head gasket, spoiling his plans. He’s used to trouble, of course, and is careful in what he reveals to the inquiring Rebecca. She’s known plenty of trouble and pain herself, what with her cancer and a restraining order on her combustive ex. As JB realizes, they will inevitably connect. For Bobby, Rebecca’s care and affection are restorative. Should the reader expect Bobby to shelve car repairs for the foreseeable future?
Bobby is ready for the next step. I held that out in the end when he reluctantly accepts the most painful parts of his experience with the first and only male lover in his life. Canada ends in hope, not despair – it can’t be any other way. Rebecca is the angel who shows Bobby how to laugh at the naiveté that once shamed him. I tried to render that ending without being gamey or ambiguous and in a way that gives the reader something to think about. This is one of the pleasures of fiction that I aim for in my writing.