Valery the Great is a crackling, electric collection of dark humour that follows the bizarre and beautiful lives of its eccentric protagonists. Sometimes sweet and gentle, sometimes sharply sarcastic, the unique narrative voices of this collection are always powerfully touching. In the title story, a young woman from New Brunswick uses figure skating as a way to fill the void left by her deceased father, and ends up as a Russian circus performer who dances on ice with two skating bears. We also meet an unlikely swim-team member, a crude and ineffective search and rescue volunteer, and Sparky, an ancient boxing trainer who recalls the tumultuous life of his childhood friend, a dwarf named Maurice.
Throughout Valery the Great we find characters who need to escape their lives, and in the attempt find alternate ways of living. they float outside of the harsh and unromantic everyday existence and into an alternate reality that allows them dreams of solace and fulfilled potential. McCluskey expertly mixes the dramatic with the deadpan to create a very readable and exciting collection, filled with characters who are connected by their longing to be heard.close this panel
Elaine McCluskey is the author of the boxing novel 'Going Fast' (Goose Lane Editions, 2009). Her first short story collection, 'The Watermelon Social' was a Journey Prize finalist, published in the 'Journey Prize Stories' anthology by McClelland & Stewart in 2004. McCluskey lives in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.close this panel