Book: Ladykiller

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Ladykiller: Stories

Author: Charlotte Gill
Publisher: Thomas Allen & Son

In her debut collection of razor-edged short fiction, Vancouver’s Charlotte Gill explores the seamy side of sex in the city. The ladykiller of the title story gets his kicks from rubbing up against strange women in malls and parking garages. Other protagonists include a washed-up diving instructor who can’t stop fantasizing about his 16-year-old student, a confused young woman who drifts into a disastrous affair with her middle-aged professor, and barracuda-like twin sisters on the prowl for men on a Thai beach. In “Hush,” the most disturbing of these seven tales of contemporary urban life, a desperate couple fixates on the crying baby in the apartment below in a vain attempt to repair their frying relationship. “Hush” was a finalist for the Journey Prize, but an even more artful piece of fiction is the opening story, “You Drive.”

“Ladykiller” is the astonishing debut collection of seven smart stories from an exciting new voice in Canadian literature. Charlotte Gill is a brilliant young writer who is not afraid to stare down the truth and shame the devil. She conjures compelling stories about escape, self-sabotage, and the power of unconscious desire. A couple plots against a crying baby in the apartment below as their dysfunctional relationship begins to veer off course. A hot-shot scuba-diving instructor falls for a teenaged girl in a perilous Lolita-like romance. Twin sisters travel to exotic lands in search of romance in order to rescue themselves from their own dark, intense bond. A woman reconnects with the son of her father’s mistress, and together they begin an obsession with the past. A medical student embarks on an affair with a professor and discovers revolution in disastrous consequences. An unfaithful man takes his girlfriend to his ailing mother’s for Christmas, only to find himself at the crossroads of sexual impulse and mortality. “Ladykiller” is peopled with characters who succumb to the allure of trouble, who find it more satisfying to ruin than create. Gill explores this terrain with empathy and wit. Shot through with comic irony and gentle satire, these are compelling stories about the foibles of the human heart. “Ladykiller” is a brave collection of short fiction that reveals the strange wisdom embedded in our darkest instincts.

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