From Peter Behrens, one of our most beloved storytellers and the author of the bestselling and award-winning novels The Law of Dreams and The O’Briens, comes a spectacular collection of riveting stories about growing up and growing older, falling in and out of love, and finding ourselves and losing each other.
Moving from the magisterial streets of Montreal to the cramped spaces of New York City to the wide open plains of the west, these stories bring their settings magically alive, and within them offer us an incredible array of brilliantly imagined, richly drawn characters. If you liked Peter Behrens’ sweeping family sagas, then you will love this collection, full of the same ambition, heartache, and wisdom that have made him an essential voice of our times.
Peter Behrens’s first novel The Law of Dreams won the Governor-General’s Award for Fiction, and has been published in nine languages. His collection of short stories, Travelling Light, was reissued in 2013, and his second novel, The O’Briens, was published in 2011. His stories and essays have appeared in the Atlantic Monthly, Tin House, Brick, Best Canadian Stories, Best Canadian Essays, and many anthologies. Behrens is a native of Montreal and was educated at Lower Canada College, Concordia University, and McGill. He has held a Wallace Stegner Fellowship in Creative Writing at Stanford University and was a Fellow at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Massachusetts. He lives in Maine and Texas.
These are stories about characters - young men, mostly - striving for a sense of identity or self-definition. "We were all searching for ways to begin ourselves," says the narrator of "Father's Son," in what might well serve as a manifesto for the entire collection.
Behrens's stories are subtle and carefully crafted. He never tells us what to think. Rather, he shows us worlds, prompting us to pay more attention to the luminous details all around us.
Travelling Light, his collection of stories old and new, offers …hints of Thomas McGuane, Annie Proulx and, in the Montreal stories, Brian Moore.
Behrens has taken great leaps as an artist.
The writing is graceful, the subject matter stimulating and best of all it offers an Anglo version of life in Montreal prior to the Quiet Revolution and the separatist movement. It is a Montreal worth getting to know.
Behrens' stories are striking snapshots that conjure wispy connections rather than delivering answers and absolutes. Where his flawed, aimless characters are headed often remains unclear, but they are so vividly drawn, in pose both direct and evocative, they haunt the mind long after their tales are told.