From one of Canada’s most compelling and imaginative writers of short fiction comes a new collection of eleven stories and a novella.
With stories both magical and unexpected, Leon Rooke astounds with his approach to the art of storytelling.
From the novella about the surreal adventures of Prissy Thibidault in the deep south watching alligator wrestling while white racists turn into blacks; to stories that include the strange wanderings of a boy called Dark in search of his mother; the escape of a couple of gay friends from their respective relationships for the bright lights of Paris; the negotiations with J.D. Salinger for a bag of his garbage; the torment that six-year-old twins inflict on their blind grandfather while their absent mother gives a boyfriend one last shot at romance; the unemployed man who helps to exterminate mosquitoes pleads his case before a judge about the capriciousness of his life; the painter who ruminates on magic dogs, reluctant models, and living with his ornery old father; the novice writer who hilariously tries to follow a how-to-manual; the survivor of a shut-in family who manages to burrow out of his suffocating lot; to a most unusual bank robbery that saves a woman’s life; here are fictional inventions that dazzle and engage.
Writing within the aesthetic of magic realism, Rooke writes like a jazz musician, improvising and surprising with every sentence. Hailed by Russell Banks as "a North American treasure," Leon Rooke is surely Canada’s literary answer to the jazz great Miles Davis.
About the author
An energetic and prolific storyteller, Leon Rooke's writing is characterized by inventive language, experimental form and an extreme range of characters with distinctive voices. He has written a number of plays for radio and stage and produced numerous collections of short stories. It is his novels, however, that have received the most critical acclaim. Fat Woman (1980) was shortlisted for the Governor General's Award and won the Paperback Novel of the Year Award. Shakespeare's Dog won the Governor General's Award in 1983. As a play, Shakespeare's Dog has toured as far afield as Barcelona and Edinburgh. A Good Baby was made into a feature film. Rooke founded the Eden Mills Writers' Festival in 1989. In 2007, Rooke was made a member of the Order of Canada. Other awards include the Canada/Australia prize, the W O Mitchell Award, the North Carolina Award for Literature and two ReLits (for short fiction and poetry). In 2012, he was the winner of the Gloria Vanderbilt Carter V Cooper Fiction Award. Recently, Rooke's works The Fall of Gravity and Shakespeare's Dog were produced in new editions for France and Italy, two countries where his work has been greatly admired.
He's a writer with a voice so sharp and personal that he changes your life while you're busy laughing.
Russell Banks, author of The Sweet Hereafter
Rooke displays virtuoso range throughout the 11 stories and one novella that make up The Last Shot... His final tale, 'Son of Light'... amounts to a perfect distillation of human life...
Quill & Quire
There is magic galore in the stories of Leon Rooke, but it's not the kind likely to appeal to followers of wizards, dragons, vampires, or other currently popular forms of literary hocus pocus. The tricks performed by this prolific... Governor General's award-winner are instead largely literary. They are based in the deft deployment of language in all its ambiguity, and they are marvellous less for the images they bring to mind than the things they build out of words themselves... In all these stories, Rooke generates word sequences that make you stop and savour...you're in good hands as long as you're willing to sit back and surrender to consummate craft.
Totally accomplished and poised.
New York Times Book Review
In his excellent new collection of short stories, Leon Rooke once again demonstrates that he is simply not like any other writer out there. He's a national treasure... Often, out of the darkest and most moribund situations, he wrestles a startling and uncanny beauty, an affirmation of life, a stunning reversal that does not bespeak any faith or philosophy but a joy in the exuberant play of language. There is something here, some magic Leon Rooke does with a twist of his... so achingly beautiful you wish it were real... Unquestionably the most imaginative fiction writer practising in Canada.
Globe & Mail
Other titles by Leon Rooke
The House on Major Street
Fabulous Fictions & Peculiar Practices
Painting the Dog
The Best Stories of Leon Rooke
Twentieth Anniversary Edition
The Fall of Gravity
The April Poems
Wide World in Celebration and Sorrow
Acts of Kamikaze Fiction
Pope and Her Lady