Seán Virgo knows the power of short fiction. He knows that the act of storytelling is hardwired into human consciousness and that the well-told story can appear in various shapes and sizes. The full force of Virgo's writing energy in Dibidalen is directed by this knowledge. We see this clearly in the exquisite simplicity of the collection's opening pieces - 'Before Ago' and 'Eggs in a Field' - where he uses verse fable and folktale interchangeably forging the stories' links to a preliterate oral culture. Other stories employ the power of allegory as witnessed in 'Shark Mother' and 'The Scapegoat'. Here Virgo employs traditional transcendentalism to allow nature to open a deeper understanding of human affairs. How does a boy transform into a shark? Why was the woodsman abandoned in the deserted city? Virgo's commitment to the form's mercurial possibilities continues in 'The Doorway' and 'The Castaway' where the reader must grapple with how to personalize archetypal symbols in order to understand a woman's fate, or assign meanings to the actions of a doubting priest to realize his destiny. Again in 'Rendezvous' and 'Gramayre' we discover a blended mix of fantasy and magical realism where fusions of the everyday, the illusory, the mythical, and the morbid blur traditional distinctions between what happened and what we think happened. Finally, in Virgo's most extrapolated stories, 'The Likeness' and 'Dibidalen', we are led on with the fractures and abstractions of the narratives that redirect each story's unexpected conclusion. The result is a fascinating dance between reader and text that is as rewarding as it is challenging, reminding us of what Anaïs Nin meant when she said, 'We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are.'
Seán Virgo was born in Malta, and grew up in South Africa, Malaya, Ireland and the U.K. He immigrated to Canada in 1966 and became a citizen in 1972. He has lived on Haida Gwaii, Newfoundland, various Gulf Islands, the Bruce Peninsula and for a decade in Southwest Saskatchewan. Virgo has published a number of works of both poetry and fiction, most recently, A Traveller Came By (2000); nonagon fugue ( 2007); and, Begging Questions (2007). He has read his work around the world, and has worked as a writing teacher, actor, and television host.
'It's a joy to see a fiction writer deploying his imaginative powers to the full in an age when given the dominance of fact the imagination itself is under suspicion.' - National Post
'Seán Virgo is a wonderful writer.' - Globe & Mail
'One of the best in Canada ... what continues to astonish about Seán Virgo is his incredible virtuosity.' -Toronto Star
'A gift for language ... forceful yet understated, the sure mark of a talented artist.' - Times Literary Supplement
'He brings the meticulous richness of poetry to his prose ... vibrant with a subtle eroticism.' - Maclean's Magazine
'Shattering intensity ... haunting, beautiful, intense, absorbing ... very sensual.' - Books In Canada
'A superb confidence ... monstrously ambitious ... [a visceral, erotic sense of language.' - Saturday Night