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About this book
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Crisp confronts the unspeakable parts of memory, meditating on characters caught in isolation and struggling to make sense of grief, disappointment, and the occasional dinner party gone wrong. The characters in Crisp’s stories don’t always make sound decisions: a grieving widow pursues a priest, an unhappy wife whittles her husband to bits, and a nostalgic man has a one-night stand with a whale trainer.
Ranging from the mystical to the eccentric, Gray masterfully uncovers human reactions to loneliness and unrest through tales about relationships, secrets, and a longing to connect.
• shortlisted for the 2010 Danuta Gleed Award for Short Fiction
"Gray's stories are pared to their teasing essence. Gray shuns the lyrical, yet can loft his prose assuredly to the poetic.... The longest story, 'Thirst,' [constitutes] 20 pages of the book's best: the shocks of the world experienced through the waking dreams, careless hungers and galloping imagination of a child."
"Canada [is] home to some of the best story writers: Mark Anthony Jarman, Mavis Gallant, Alice Munro. Into that fold steps R.W. Gray with his collection Crisp.... Gray has a keen eye for landscape and an incisive eye for human motivation. A fine collection from a great new writer."
"[There were] characterizations that continue to break my heart. 'Sweet Tooth' describes a sort of Midsummer Night's Dinner Party, in which two happy couples meet for dinner, consume wine, and exchange whimsical small talk, all the while quiet, secret longings bristle beneath the surface. The prose is as delicious as the cold avocado soup that is served."
"Gray’s text possesses even more of such narrative drive, an impressive achievement in a collection of short stories like Crisp. The author balances perfectly the opposing pressures of writing a short story collection, neither presenting a group of scattered, disconnected stories nor enforcing a too-weighty overarching narrative."