cover image Confidence


Russell Smith. Biblioasis (Consortium, U.S. dist.; University of Toronto Press, Canadian dist.), $15.95 trade paper (158p) ISBN 978-1-77196-015-1

Smith (How Insensitive) specializes in portraits of the thin social strata of Toronto—the fashionable (trend-conscious partygoers, habitués of hip downtown restaurants and bars), the aspiring white middle class, and dissatisfied heterosexual couples whose male halves display a relentless propensity for infidelity. With gallery openings, DJs, snorted pharmaceuticals, vapid conversations about rabbit dumplings in miso vanilla froth, and the expected handful of cheating husbands and boyfriends, this collection of eight stories reflect the author’s ongoing attraction to his signature demographic. His guys might be aging (as in “Fun Girls”) or climbing the real estate ladder (“Gentrification”), but they still troll faddish venues for pretty women and cool contacts. The most memorable stories work with the formula but have added depth. Mixing satiric comedy with pathos, the married dad in “Raccoons” pretends to search the garage for the titular pest. In fact he is digging for sex tapes—about which a furious woman (an affair that flamed out) has been making threatening phone calls, while he strives to maintain the illusion of being nothing but a loving husband and father. A minor change in Smith’s strategy, the story signals his capability of breaking away from his shopworn themes and settings. [em]Agent: Martha Magor Webb, Anne McDermid & Associates (July) [/em]