cover image Wigford Rememberies

Wigford Rememberies

Kyp Harness. Nightwood (Midpoint, U.S. dist.; Harbour, Canadian dist.), $19.95 trade paper (208p) ISBN 978-0889713192

This moving debut novel from Harness (The Art of Charlie Chaplin) reads more like a collection of connected short stories, centering around the fictional town of Wigford, Ontario. The stories of its inhabitants and their confusions, heartbreaks, and everyday frustrations are told with unshrinking honesty and real compassion. Buzz, the heavy-drinking father of two, is trying to reason out God's forgiveness with simple Happy Henry, an itinerant proselytizer; Buzz's wife, Mona, knows she would have been happier marrying another. David Crowe is the odd-looking, anemic boy whom nobody likes, and Joseph Hardwick is a general favorite with a cruel streak. Each chapter is by turns realistic and poetic. In "Come All Ye Young Lovers," the characters gather for an anniversary party. Children and dogs run through the hubbub, the women gossip in the sitting room, and the men in the kitchen posture over their beer. Each conversation is rich in its undercurrents, the things not said, and yet these feel like something overheard. "Nightsong" is a lyrical chapter, reminiscent of Dylan Thomas's Under Milk Wood, swooping down from the wider view of Wigford to the particular details of its inhabitants' dreams, secret hopes, and disappointments. These characters and their stories will linger with readers. (Aug.)