“There is no solid ground beneath us”: The Shoals and Detours of Nalo Hopkinson’s “The Glass Bottle Trick,” “Precious,” and “Greedy Choke Puppy”

Abstract

This article presents a reading of Nalo Hopkinson’s short stories “The Glass Bottle Trick,” “Precious,” and “Greedy Choke Puppy” that considers Caribbean Canadian subjectivity through lenses of (inter)textuality and the material/metaphorical spaces and movements of interruption. It draws from Tiffany Lethabo King’s thinking on shoals to theorize the gathering and accumulation of tales that occurs in Hopkinson’s re/imaginings of “Bluebeard,” “The Kind and the Unkind Girls,” and soucouyant folklore. The article suggests that these shoals interrupt the paths of dominant narratives in ways that force detours to emerge, adapting Rinaldo Walcott’s use of the term to explore the transformative possibilities that occur through the creation of new improvised paths, of otherwise ways of conceptualizing Caribbean Canadian being. Ultimately, it proposes that Hopkinson’s stories acknowledge and yet interrupt colonial narratives of geography, identity, and femininity, providing a framework through which to consider the unstable grounds and the searching detours of Caribbean Canadian subjectivities.
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