Juliet was a Surprise

Bill Gaston. Hamish Hamilton/Penguin Canada, $22 trade paper (216p) ISBN 978-0-14-319241-1
Gaston, recipient of the 2003 Timothy Findley Prize, will thrill readers with suspense, peculiarity and carnage in his latest short fiction collection. The book's title is derived from the third story, "Any Forest Seen from Orbit." Reminiscent of D.H. Lawrence's Lady Chatterley's Lover, the narrator and protagonist, a sexually inadequate average-looking arborist, is hired to uproot a deodara cedar obstructing a sewage pipe in the yard of Troy and Juliet Prudhomme, and is quickly seduced by Juliet. Jack Davies, a divorced executive, is at the center of "Four Corners." He has been dating Cheryl for six months but is ambiguously resentful about the relationship. He prepares to end the relationship at an upscale Italian restaurant only to discover that she has invited her father to meet him that night. In the compilation's first story, "House Clowns," a retired professor rents a cottage in Kamloops, B.C. to fish and reflect but is startled to arrive and find a young couple already there claiming to have rented the same cottage. Suspecting the couple's intentions, he plans to gain the upper hand while fishing with them in a canoe. Gaston interweaves erotic fantasies, male sexual inadequacy, female magical sensuality and utterly unforeseeable aggression. Agent: Carolyn Forde, Westwood Creative Artists. (June)
Reviewed on: 12/08/2014
Release date: 06/01/2014
Genre: Fiction
Hardcover - 256 pages - 978-0-670-06584-4
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