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A young woman puzzles over the identity of her lost brother; a husband cites a sixteenth-century portrait to explain his lover to his wife; a dead man laments the suicide note he failed to write. With spare, elegant prose Gould crafts quirky gems, compact fusions of humour and pathos. His fictions are full of individuals catching odd glimpses of themselves, of big ideas working themselves out in the minutiae of modern lives.
A t the centre of this varied collection is a coherent vision, a vision of human beings as paradoxical creatures—finite creatures haunted by infinite longings. If this vision is the piñata, each piece is a wildly different whack at it. Gould’s writing is serious, joyful and supple, constantly seeking out a fresh voice, a new angle of illumination. Call them sudden or flash, each of these finely wrought works gives us a pure moment, a fulcrum from which we witness a life tilting from kilter to off-kilter and back again.