With blood on his hands, Curtis Woolf flees his home in New Mexico for Canada, where he starts a religious commune, the Family. There he heals others and preaches pacifism while enduring the torment of this own damaged soul. Then his lover, Martha, finds his gun and goes south to discover the truth, whatever that might be. Curtis sets out to bring her back, lest the Family fall apart. In the half-light of a nursing home sits Hollis, dragon lord of a lost Mormon line, who has anointed Curtis, damned him, and now awaits his return. Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer's writing is full of dark humour and razor-sharp insight. Catching human fallibility head-on, she demands examination, confrontation, and a reckoning of pain with beauty.
"Perfecting ropes the backwoods of Ontario to the American southwest, offering up clouds of bees to contend with oil flares and guns. In all its marvellous strangeness, this novel hums with sometimes-violent life and the cadence of its supple, extraordinary sentences."
"An ambitious novel that satisfies... Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer's characters are searchers — for love, for nation, for a belief to actually believe in — and their author has found a vital prose with which to bring them to life. Perfecting is rich in insight and artistry, both line-by-line and as a whole."
"A powerful story, brilliantly told, and it surprised me from its opening page to its closing words. It's all I want in a book, and I'm grateful that I didn't miss it. You shouldn't, either."
"My favourite book this year was Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer's Perfecting. I loved it because it was different; different from other books I've read, different from the ‘typical Canadian novel’ many people seem to hold in contempt. I also loved it because it was chock-full of symbols and I've always been a fan of symbolism."
"As difficult as Kuitenbrouwer's plots are to diagram, her main project to date is crystal clear: exploring the radiating effects of violence... Brava!"
"Perfecting has my vote for most compelling read of the year."