cover image Animal Person: Stories

Animal Person: Stories

Alexander MacLeod. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $27 (256p) ISBN 978-0-374-60222-2

Macleod (Light Lifting) returns with a brilliant collection mainly set in Canada, bringing spot-on characterizations to his protagonists as they navigate tumultuous changes. “Lagomorph” examines a family’s evolving relationship with their pet rabbit, Gunther. Narrator David and his wife Sarah amicably separate after their three children are grown, leaving him alone with Gunther and reflecting on how the rabbit’s presence in their lives had faded but now is prominent. In “The Dead Want,” a 20-year-old college student named Joe makes the long drive back to his father’s remote hometown in Nova Scotia for the funeral of his cousin Beatrice. Along the way, passing through Toronto and then Montreal to pick up a relative, Joe reflects on the different paths they took, despite being close as children, born six weeks apart. A new mother named Amy in “Once Removed” is reluctant to visit her boyfriend’s demanding great-aunt Greet, who lives alone in a retirement community and wants to meet the baby. The trek requires a series of bus transfers across Montreal on a 90º day, plus Amy has a sneaking suspicion that Greet has ulterior motives. Throughout, Macleod offers piercing insights into how his characters see themselves in relation to their families. This is a winner. (Apr.)