Dispirited by his performance review, Will Gough sets out to redeem himself by updating his company's quality control procedures, while casting a hopeful eye toward other career opportunities. Despite his best intentions, his work troubles follow him home——to his wife and two sons, where empty yogurt containers are half—sacred, technology a source of childhood wonder, and the business of the world bumps against the quiet walls that protect the rhythms of family life.
It's difficult to pull off a portrait of a nice guy in ordinary circumstances, going through the stress of daily living and tensions surrounding job and career opportunities, and he does it very well in simple, understated prose. No sensationalism or alien beings or suicidal desperation or academic angst or terrorist attacks or other assorted rampages and violations: just a life without earthshaking incident, but subtly humourous and convincing.
Tom Abray grew up near Strathroy, Ontario, and then moved to Montreal to study English at McGill University. After completing his M.A. in creative writing at Concordia University he began teaching at John Abbott College. His collection of short stories, Pollen (DC Books, 2011), was shortlisted for the Concordia University First Book Prize, as well as the Paragraphe Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction. He also written and directed a number of short films that have screened at festivals in North America and Europe.
“Throughout the short novel, Will navigates a web of professional frustrations and domestic quandaries as a father of two young boys (for example: Should sleepovers be allowed on a weekday? Should you allow your ten-year-old to beat you at soccer?). Abray carefully bifurcates Will’s life into two distinct worlds, work and home. The charm of the domestic scenes, often dominated by frank, age-appropriate discussions with his young sons, exposes the corporate theatrics and prickly politics of Will’s exchanges at work with colleagues and clients.
Some of the best and most comedic moments in the novel are when the two worlds briefly overlap. For example, when Will takes his sons to work and they meet his disagreeable boss, or when he tells a disinterested client about the gifts he bought his sons. Will has a propensity to overshare with clients – and it is details like this that make him an utterly believable, and likeable, protagonist....
The book consistently teeters on the edge of a grand dénouement – a betrayal, a blow-up, an accident. Here lies the book’s charm and uniqueness. Life happens: the seasons fold into each other, the boys go to weekly sports practice, and Will and Karen occasionally bicker. But nothing is extreme in this book – not even the toilet leak. It’s a highly readable and funny rendition of real life.”
– Cecilia Keating, The Montreal Review of Books, Fall, 2017