Sunday, July 29, 2012

Review of 'Once You Break a Knuckle' by D.W. Wilson

A simply wonderful collection of short stories, set in the East Kootenay region of British Columbia and happily, recognized and published by a biggie, Hamish Hamilton and not consigned to the 'regional voice' ghetto in parochial Canadian literary terms. Most of these stories are written from the p.o.v. of young, yearning males: what to do about the hicks waiting to beat them up, weekend in, weekend out? Should they leave town and get an education? Should they follow in their fathers' footsteps and do the same job,and somehow earn the old man's respect? Should they let the local tough girls know they are crazy for them? It is the bare-bones, muscular style of the writing that sets this book head and shoulders above the cliched tropes of small town settings and Wilson is a brilliant stylist. His ear for the vernacular of working class tradesmen is wonderfully honed, pitch perfect, for those of us who've spent any time working alongside these jokers, some of the funniest people around. His nuts and bolts descriptions of the daily tasks of carpentry and electrical/plumbing work evoke such authenticity and made me realize: we just don't read about this stuff in fiction, do we? Thanks to Wilson, a world is revealed. His comprehension and articulation of the muddled mysteries of male desires is nothing less than a tour de force. Look for this young man to become a major writer, period.

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