On the edge of normal, challenges take many forms — the everday can be an adventure and the ordinary a triumph.A young woman in a group home investigates a mysterious piece of knitting. An obse
On the edge of normal, challenges take many forms — the everday can be an adventure and the ordinary a triumph.
A young woman in a group home investigates a mysterious piece of knitting. An obsessed bag boy does grim battle with a squirrel. A woman, an asparagus bag and a garbageman have a tumultuous short-term relationship. Otherwise unremarkable achievements become epic on the edge of normal.
View Biographical note
A writer from the age of six, Jenn Ashton was first published when she was fourteen. She has written fiction, non-fiction and children's books as well as editorials and articles for periodicals and journals. She sits on the board of the Federation of BC Writers and the Indigenous Writer's Collective. Jenn is a gradutate of Simon Fraser University's Writer's Studio where she now works as a teaching assistant. She lives in North Vancouver.
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"Ashton dedicates this collection to "the many people I have known, individuals who face barriers from within and without," and expresses her goal as a writer: "To honor your courage and resilience in these stories." Most readers who discover this fierce, delicate and lovely collection will agree that the author has more than achieved her goal. . . Ashton achieves an unusual blend of dark material with delicate, quiet language. Imagine Bosch's Garden of Earthly Delights done in water colours, without losing any of its searing impact. . . In these stories the damaged character is presented in ways that underscore dignity and agency. Ashton's use of free indirect discourse here is magisterial.
— Vancouver Sun
"Like many avid readers, I enjoy a good and satisfying dive into dark waters. I regularly embrace contradictions, twists and moral ambiguity. So it was completely unexpected for me to find myself quite simply relieved by the optimism in this collection. People Like Frank felt like a balm, particularly coming as it did during violent social unrest and a pandemic. . . An appreciation for perseverance runs through the collection, and the reader has the sense that the characters value their own lives, no matter how insignificant or unimportant they may seem to others. There is a wakefulness to small experience, a curiosity, a delight. There are gratitude and a celebration of effort. I particularly loved the inclusion of Ashton's drawings which are whimsical, poignant and funny.
"I encountered a great deal of kindness in People Like Frank. As I finished the final line of the last story, I recalled thinking "we need more of these"."
— The Miramichi Reader
"People Like Frank, Jenn Ashton's newly released short story collection, is peopled with diverse characters from disabled to immigrants to transients to... These characters speak loudly and clearly, building bridges of understanding. I like how some of these stories are linked. This pairing invites a closer look, encourages a deeper understanding, or offers an opposing view. Stories range in length from 3 to 12 pages. The collection is dyslexic-friendly. It's a perfect book to take with you on your morning commute. Some stories are heart-warm. Others are emotionally challenging."
"The twenty stories in this collection are all relatively short, but don't feel lacking in any way. 'Gentle' is a word that comes to mind when I think of my experience reading this book. And optimistic. Some of the stories feel like they have that childlike quality of paying attention to details and living in the moment. Just the collection for anyone feeling overwhelmed by the outside world. The characters in these stories are on the "edge of normal"; a neurodiverse group of people for whom the "everyday can be an adventure and the ordinary a triumph.""
— Consumed By Ink blog