Keath Fraser is without a doubt one of the most original voices in Canadian letters. He is a writer of truly wonderous imagination and a master of the art of narrative invention. 13 Ways of Listening to a Stranger is a selection of eighteen of his best stories from the past twenty-five years. Here is a collection of short fiction that showcases the sheer genius of this extraordinary writer, who has been far too under-recognized and who may be one of the best kept secrets in Canadian literature.
On a gulf island, a woman with defective syntax prepares for an important speech. A baritone opera singer in San Francisco finds elegiac flight from an imprisoning tire farm and his present legacy of glory holes. A retired diplomat struggles undiplomatically to overcome crippling decline with the help of a teenage girl. Other stories from the West Coast tell of transgressing couples, kidnapped children, rooming-house men on welfare.
Narrative journeys elsewhere also carry unexpected ends: a retired doctor and his wife drift out of control in a balloon's gondola over the Gulf of Thailand; a lover of rock 'n' roll flies to a Mexican Club Med seeking solace for her lost voice. In this masterful collection the world opens up into Okanagan orchards, a bone-house embassy in Phnom Penh, a loquacious glass palace in the Rajasthan desert. Lyrical and inventive, subversive and urbane, Keath Fraser's stories are populated with an uncommon breadth of voices and classes, professions and plots, cities and mirages.
Fraser makes the domestic seem exotic and invest the far-away with threatening familiarity. These are stories that affect us in deeply surprising ways.
...this compilation showcases Fraser's array of stories unique in voice, character, and topic.
He is one of the most gifted of the new generation of fiction writers; his startling imagery, rich ideas, textured language, and astonishing range of characters are remarkable.
Keath Fraser is one of the most intelligent writers working in Canada.
Keath Fraser should be much better known than he is...he has achieved almost a cult status, the sort that emerges from both rumour and actual reading of his fine, eccentric work.