Kilter: 55 Fictions

Kilter: 55 Fictions

by John Gould


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“The enormous inventiveness of these 55 fictions offers the reader an emotional and intellectual gourmet feast.”
—2003 Giller Prize Jury

A finalist for the 2003 Giller Prize, Canada’s most prestigious literary award, Kilter is a subtle, funny, ironic, and startling chronicle of contemporary life, full of individuals catching odd glimpses of themselves—a young woman puzzles over the identity of her lost brother; a husband describes a sixteenth-century painting to explain his lover to his wife—and of big ideas working themselves out in strange but revealing ways—a dead man laments the suicide note he failed to write; a wife and husband disagree about the shape of the semen stain on their son’s pajamas, he seeing it as an image of Jesus, she as the image of her dog as a puppy.

John Gould has updated and westernized the form of the palm-of-the-hand story, invented eighty years ago by Yasunari Kawabata, who wanted a way to write a fiction writer’s poetry. In spare, elegant prose, Gould crafts quirky gems, compact fusions of humor and pathos. At the center of this multifaceted collection is a vision of human beings as paradoxical creatures, finite and haunted by infinite longings. In story after story, Gould locates the fulcrum on which a life tilts from kilter to off-kilter and back again.

“There are big ideas in these small packages. . . . Kilter, at once quiet and terribly ambitious, funny and moving, is a keeper.”
The Globe and Mail

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781590511893
Publisher: Other Press, LLC
Publication date: 11/05/2005
Pages: 216
Product dimensions: 5.46(w) x 8.49(h) x 0.66(d)

About the Author

John Gould

John Gould is the author of The Kingdom of Heaven: Eighty-Eight Palm-of-the-Hand Stories. A Sessional Instructor in Fiction at the University of Victoria and a member of the editorial board of the Malahat Review, he lives in Victoria, Canada, with his wife and stepchildren.

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Kilter: 55 Fictions 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
lkernagh on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
While I originally picked up this collection as just another short story collection, I was blown away by Gould's ability to convey powerful, micro stories that connect with the reader. I say micro stories because these are short, short stories. The majority of the stories are only 3 - 4 pages in length, with some a mere two pages long. His ability to capture the essence of the story so succinctly, and to provide each story with a unique voice made this collection a real treat for me to read. The topics are varied. One of my favorite stories is the suicide note the husband would have left for his wife if he had written one. Another is the conversation of a married couple in bed with the underlying meaning behind each sentence added for hilarious context. The characters of Gould's writing are people you might encounter on the street, at the check-out aisle or sitting in a doctor's office waiting room. Ordinary people having ordinary conversations and ordinary experiences. Under Gould's skillful prose, these ordinary lives become quite exceptional.Overall, a fantastic collection of short stories that I highly recommend.
LynnB on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Wow! This 205 book contains 55 very short stories...I call them "micro" stories. It is absolutely amazing how the author (John Gould)can paint a character in less than 3 pages, and how the stories can shock, amuse or have you nodding in empathy. The stories are narrated by men or women with equal credibility and insight. This kind of writing is truly a unique art form different from short stories or novels. These little stories really "punch above their weight".