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Fiction Literary

The Lava in My Bones

by (author) Barry Webster

Arsenal Pulp Press
Initial publish date
Sep 2012
Literary, Gay
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2012
    List Price

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Lambda Literary Award and Ferro-Grumley Award for LGBT Fiction Finalist

A frustrated Canadian geologist studying global warming becomes obsessed with eating rocks after embarking on his first same-sex relationship in Europe. Back home, his young sister is a high-school girl who suddenly starts to ooze honey through her pores, an affliction that attracts hordes of bees as well as her male classmates but ultimately turns her into a social pariah. Meanwhile, their obsessive Pentecostal mother repeatedly calls on the Holy Spirit to rid her family of demons. The siblings are reunited on a ship bound for Europe where they hope to start a new life, but are unaware that their disguised mother is also on board and plotting to win back their souls, with the help of the Virgin Mary.

Told in a lush baroque prose, this intense, extravagant magic-realist novel combines elements of fairy tales, horror movies, and romances to create a comic, hallucinatory celebration of excess and sensuality.

From The Lava in My Bones:

When I reached the open field near my parents' house, I stood panting on the empty plain. The wind struck me square in the face, whipped the bangs off my forehead, fluttered my eyelashes and dried the spittle on my lips. I looked down at my body: this body I lived in, this body I carted about wherever I went. These carbuncled fingers, these bulging thighs, this chest rising and falling like the swell of the sea were mine--were me.

It was then that I knew: air will free me. The wind I once feared will lift me high above the earth-bound people of Cartwright. Wind is what happens when air falls in love with itself. I'll love the sweetness of my sweat and it will dissolve rocks hurled like missiles at my head. I spread my arms wide to the howling gale that shot into my open pores and roared through my body like Niagara, as a shower of glistening honey drops fell like manna onto the parched, stony earth.

About the author

Barry Webster is a classically-trained pianist and a graduate of the University of Toronto and Concordia University. His fiction has appeared in numerous Canadian journals from the Fiddlehead to the Danforth Review and has been short-listed for a National Magazine Award and the CBC-Quebec Prize. Originally from Toronto, he now lives in East Montreal.

A seasoned traveller, Webster was living in Berlin the night the Wall fell, has lived in England and hitch-hiked from Alberta to Toronto.

Barry Webster's profile page


  • Short-listed, Ferro-Grumley Award for LGBT Fiction
  • Short-listed, ReLit Award
  • Short-listed, Lambda Literary Award

Editorial Reviews

Luscious and positively dripping with style (and honey), The Lava in My Bones is a frank, often poetic exploration of sexuality, maturity, family, and abandonment ... The imagery presented in this novel, coupled with Webster's perfunctory, delicate, and strangely lyrical language, is like none other I've read this year. -Backlisted

A wild, shape-shifting narrative ... This is fiction that engages the mind, libido and funny bone. -Event

Webster has written a vast, exuberant and optimistic epic about the ebbs and flows of the lava-like oils that lubricate the world's engine, emphasizing the transformative power of love. -National Post

A joyous fairytale about familial dysfunction and our connection to Mother Earth. Webster writes halluncinatory prose with zany gusto ... This is an exhuberantly written novel. We need more like it in this country. -Quill and Quire (STARRED REVIEW)

The Lava in My Bones is, quite simply, a fabulous book ... "Magical," "compelling," "electric," complex, troubling, and contradictory, The Lava in My Bones is a book that I will read repeatedly throughout my life, illuminating crap times and hard knocks with the seismically wild, deeply relevant and earnest irreverence of it all. -Lambda Literary

This book is utterly beautiful in its strangeness ... This sensuous tale is both removed from and grounded in the physical, calling attention to our mineral and emotional deficiencies. A brilliant read. -The Coast (Halifax)

A lucid, wildly imaginative, delightfully unpredictable book. -Art Threat

Compulsive, energetic, surreal, and wildly imaginative, Barry Webster's The Lava in My Bones links human emotions and a cascade of natural events. In this unusual tale, sexual identity is wrenched from family and social dysfunction, and a bold canvas of metaphor invigorates the characters' quest to love and be loved in return. These are relationship truths, embedded in family dynamics: Webster's take on desire is like no other. -Marilyn Bowering, author of To All Appearances a Lady and Visible Worlds

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