As entertaining as they are insightful, the stories in The Path of Most Resistance are anchored by the concept of passive aggression in our everyday lives: ordinary people who are quietly, desperately, and indirectly trying to impose their will on the uncaring world around them.
From a woman who compulsively shops for luggage in order to sublimate her desire for a divorce to a senior citizen who tries to force his family to visit by refusing to eat, the characters in this collection try to change their lives through oblique resistance. The stories also humorously show readers how passive aggression is perhaps at its most effective when carried out in smaller, more insidious ways. Uncertain about the state of his relationship, a man obsesses, but refuses to clean, a spot of mould in the bathroom.
The Path of Most Resistance is an observant and compassionate look at the feelings of powerlessness that we all share, and will have readers silently cringing and nodding in recognition of their own bad behaviour.
Wangersky is adept at creating crystalline moments in which events or lives change or reorganize themselves; rarely does he offer closure or pat solutions to the situations he imagines.
By tapping into the frustration that comes with being ignored or misunderstood, Wangersky is writing stories that speak to a very base emotion in all Canadians; we’re a more aggressive, competitive people than we like to think. But in The Path of Most Resistance, this is tempered by Wangersky’s humour and honest treatment of his characters – a group that readers will recognize in their friends and neighbours, people going about their lives, knowing that no matter the frustration, there’s nothing to do but keep on going.
No one charts the geography of loneliness better than Russell Wangersky. Writing with clarity and precision, he reveals lives lived under a slow compression, of tension that demands release. At turns lyrical, wry, darkly comedic, but always heartfelt, Wangersky’s collection takes the short story to new heights of grace and skill
…Wangersky eases languidly between action and imagination. Certain brief moments of memory and fantasy, a little like Richard Ford’s thoughtful, dreaming, disconnected men, suggest a different register of interest from the mostly unspectacular events the stories are about. Structurally, there’s great artistry in the way Wangersky is able to tell, somehow, two stories at the same time, the under-plot gradually easing the main plot out of sight. The stories are full of precise observations, small gifts of reality: the way damp in the air warns you of an approaching storm, a husband “sunk into his chair like a grounded ship.” It’s fine, detached, and subtle writing… At their peak, these stories have the strengths of the author’s finest work–the deeply unsettling spareness of Walt, the visceral insight of Burning Down the House.
Vivid images of ordinary working life are galvanized into beauty and power in these stories that turn on hard-fought, hard-won understanding. Russell Wangersky’s steady faith in human nature yields honest, bedrock prose veined with surprising gleams of love and pain.
Microcosm and macrocosm are laid bare in this collection of 12 rigorous stories by Wangersky (Walt), whose fiction has won an Independent Publisher Book Award and many other accolades…the [stories] endings hang suspended, almost magically, in the air and continue to do so in readers’ minds long after they have put the book down and gotten on with the minutiae of their own lives
Russell Wangersky affirms his position as one of the finest short-story writers currently working in this country . . . Wangersky has delivered a collection unified in its quality, but eclectic and surprising in the breadth of its styles, subjects, and techniques.
Russell Wangersky has mastered the short story. The pieces in this collection are tender, violent, humorous, sorrowful, and sexy — sometimes all at the same time. In its exploration of human betrayal and human connection, The Path of Most Resistance captures the raw physical energy that simmers just below the surface of everyday life. This collection is a true gift from one of Canada’s most talented writers of short fiction.