The Dark and Other Love Stories
LONGLISTED FOR THE 2017 SCOTIABANK GILLER PRIZE
Winner of the 2018 Western Canada Jewish Book Awards—Fiction—The Diamond Foundation Prize
Nominated for the 2018 OLA Evergreen Award
Energized, irreverent, novelistic stories full of longing, strange humour, and the complications of human entanglement from Governor General’s Award nominee Deborah Willis
The characters in these thirteen masterful and engaging stories exist on the edge of danger, where landscapes melt into dreamscapes and every house is haunted. A drug dealer’s girlfriend signs up for the first manned mission to Mars. A girl falls in love with a man who wants to turn her into a bird. A teenage girl and her best friend test their relationship by breaking into suburban houses. A wife finds a gaping hole in the floor of the home she shares with her husband, a hole that only she can see. Full of longing and strange humour, these subtle, complex stories—about the love between a man and his pet crow, an alcoholic and his AA sponsor, a mute migrant and a newspaper reporter—show how love ties us to one another and to the world. The Dark and Other Love Stories announces the emergence of a wonderfully gifted storyteller whose stories enlarge our perceptions about the human capacity to love.
Willis's (Vanishing) collection casts a wide net in the search for love. The m lange of characters and plot lines teases at the intricate warp and weft of human (and other) interactions, exploring the myriad lessons our most primal and complex emotion teaches us about identity, ambition, boundaries, connectedness, wanderlust, and addiction. In "Girlfriend on Mars," a pot-growing slacker's worst nightmare comes to fruition when his live-in girlfriend "drug dealer, lapsed Evangelical Christian" becomes a finalist for a spot on the first mission to the Red Planet. "Todd" examines the relationship among Eddie, a divorced loner; his 10-year-old daughter, Abby; and the eponymous crow who teaches them both about the vagaries of love. "Steve and Lauren: Three Love Stories," a suite of brief pieces at the book's end, recalls the work of fabulist Steven Millhauser in its 10-degrees-off-center rumination on murky realities, encapsulated in "The Nap," in which Willis celebrates the delicious uncertainty of love and life: "Life seemed so solid once, but now had melted like Dal 's watch and slipped through their fingers." This is a poignant and fitting end to such an accomplished, vivid, and memorable collection.