giller prize shortlist 2012 pt ii

The second book I read from the list was Russell Wangersky’s collection of short stories titled Whirl Away. 


From the book jacket:

In his new short story collection, Whirl Away, Russell Wangersky … looks at what happens when people’s personal coping skills go awry. These are people who discover their anchor-chain has broken: characters safe in the world of self-deception or even self delusion, forced to face the fact that their main line of defense has become their greatest weakness.

From the caretaker of a prairie amusement park to the lone occupant of a collapsing Newfoundland town, from a travelling sports drink marketer with a pressing need to get off the road to an elevator inspector who finds himself losing his marriage while sensuously burying himself in the tastes and smells of the kitchen, these are people who spin wildly out of control, finding themselves in a new and different world.

Sounds pretty interesting doesn’t it?  I thought so.  Which is why I was actually surprised to find myself rolling my eyes, groaning, and dreading picking up this book to polish off the last few stories.  I just really didn’t like it.  I think that while Wangersky is a very capable writer, the actual content of his stories just fell flat for me.  They seemed to try really hard to be more than they were, allegories or metaphors, when all I could see was the surface level of sad people and their sad lives. In a few of them I found the ending so predictable and almost cheesy that it reminded me of stories I would write in high school, depending on the easiest of shortcuts to tie things up or to make a dramatic point.

Clearly there is something within these pages that others have appreciated and celebrated but I just couldn’t quite see it.  Ah well.

None of the the other three books on the list have made it to the library for me yet, which is actually quite good as I have about four other books on the go right now.  I am terrible at focusing on one thing at a time…eeep!


One thought on “giller prize shortlist 2012 pt ii

  1. Pingback: giller prize shortlist 2012 pt iii | The Nouveau Shanty

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