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Review-a-Day
Esquire
Wednesday, June 25th, 2003


 

Bad News of the Heart (Canadian Literature Series)

by Douglas H. Glover

The Disparate Dozen

A review by Adrienne Miller

The twelve stories in this uncompromising and superbly artful collection are so varied that it's sometimes difficult to believe they were written by the same author. One story, for example, begins with a first line of "A woman followed me home to my box today, claiming to be my wife," and another ends with "At our backs, I still heard the ghostly hiss of money like the beating of a billion unseen wings, but Harley insisted it was just the wind in the pines." I've read few story collections that are as thematically and structurally diverse. The emotional world the stories in Bad News of the Heart unveil, however, is similar: It's a haunted place full of dark moral ambiguities. Douglas Glover's remarkable ear and his gift for the vivifying detail are what make the stories in this collection so resonant; his character details are exceptionally well chosen, in fact, that I don't really know where to begin. ("To keep in shape, I do daily workouts with an S & W .357" from the bellicose little "A Guide to Animal Behavior" is probably my favorite.) A story like the brilliant, forbidding "Dog Attempts to Drown Man in Saskatoon" possesses so much intelligence and contains so many layers that it pierces the heart. A book to be read, and reread, and savored.


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