“Powerful. . . . Full of dark nostalgia.” —NATHAN ENGLANDER
“A literary high-wire act, not for the faint of heart.” —ALISSA YORK
An unflinching and masterful collection of award-winning stories, Willem de Kooning’s Paintbrush is a career-making debut. Ranging from an island holiday gone wrong to a dive bar on the upswing to a yuppie mother in a pricey subdivision seeing her worst fears come true, these deftly written stories are populated by barkeeps, good men down on their luck, rebellious teens, lonely immigrants, dreamers and realists, fools and quiet heroes. In author Kerry-Lee Powell’s skillful hands, each character, no matter what their choices, is deeply human in their search for connection. Powell holds us in her grasp, exploring with a black humour themes of belonging, the simmering potential for violence and the meaning of art no matter where it is found, and revealing with each story something essential about the way we see the world.
A selection of these stories have won significant awards including the Boston Review fiction contest and The Malahat Review’s Far Horizons award for short fiction. For readers of Lorrie Moore, Denis Johnson and Michael Christie.
SHORTLISTED FOR THE GOVERNOR GENERAL’S AWARD FOR FICTION
“Harrowing, whip-smart, both lyrical and tough-as-nails, these stories pack a wallop. With her keen eye and wide-open heart, Powell has managed to capture the strange, malevolent undertow that burbles just beneath the surface of contemporary life. And lucky for us, it makes for a breathtaking read.”
LONGLISTED FOR THE SCOTIABANK GILLER PRIZE
SHORTLISTED FOR THE ROGERS WRITERS TRUST FICTION PRIZE
“Masterful . . . . In several stories, characters mired in difficult situations look to the mystical to help them escape, and Powell’s delicacy in these stories is wonderfully successful.”
“A transcendent collection . . . . Within Powell’s 15 stories, it is impossible to pick a crown jewel. Each one feels like the favourite until the next.”
“Kerry Lee Powell writes with the voice of a prophet crying from the wilderness. She writes of liars and losers, frauds and impostors who dream of escape into extremity, escape from life’s artificiality. With a poet’s control over imagery, her painted tableaux explode into sudden shimmering violence.”
“These are beautiful stories. They will make you think and they will make you feel and they will always, always, reward your attention.”
“An energetic and disturbing collection of stories. I loved the rush of reading it.”
“Powerful. . . . Full of dark nostalgia and observed in sharp, vivid prose.”