Finalist for the Giller Prize
Winner of the Mary Scorer Award
A Globe and Mail Best Book
What can a story do in the time it takes to listen to a pop song or a news flash? This is the question asked and answered by Kilter, a collection of 55 highly charged tales about the modern search for meaning and connection. A young woman puzzles over the identity of her lost brother; a husband cites a sixteenth-century portrait to explain his lover to his wife; a dead man laments the suicide note he failed to write…
Kilter: 55 Fictions (Canadian Edition)
Kilter: 55 Fictions (U.S. Edition)
The title of John Gould’s collection of very short stories alerts us to the startling nature of his fictional sophistication and its disturbing power… Often hilarious, occasionally sad, and always ambiguously intimate, the enormous inventiveness of these 55 fictions offers the reader an emotional and intellectual gourmet feast.
2003 Giller Prize Jury
Gould brings to his questing universe a witty, cold eye, and a deep compassion for our floundering absurdities. There are big ideas in these 55 small packets – about meaning, godlessness, time. Gould's achievement is to weave them into a collective tableau of what he calls "finite creatures haunted by infinite aspirations." Kilter, at once quiet and terribly ambitious, funny and moving, is a keeper.
Martin Levin, The Globe & Mail
Words in Gould's collection are like those boxing gloves in cartoons that are attached to springs. They pop out and give you a good whacking if you're not careful. … Gould is a talented writer who sketches character deftly and sets up his elements of dramatic conflict and pathos with such flair that most readers will find it hard to stop reading.
Philip Marchand, The Toronto Star
John Gould toys exquisitely with order, chaos and almost everything in between in our contemporary, middle-class, post-9/11 lives. … His voices are remarkably genuine, his characters richly described and lively, and the issues he explores provocative. That's Gould's genius.
Sandy Naiman, The Toronto Sun
Through prose that is smart, insightful, and often wise, Gould tackles themes and philosophical ideas that would stymie lesser writers. Each fiction offers a multitude of pleasures, affecting both the head and the heart in a mixture of familiar subjects and offbeat twists.
Corey Redekop, The Winnipeg Free Press
There's a Raymond Carver-like concision and irony to these yarns. They are crafted with tremendous precision, each word selected for optimum power and beauty. Like a poet, Gould writes with miserly economy and utmost forethought.
Adrian Chamberlain, The Victoria Times Colonist
Gould's fictions manage to combine the compression of poetry with the narrative drive of fiction, creating whole worlds in a few deft strokes and just as deftly bringing them to sharp, often startling resolutions. These are unique pieces from a unique voice, quick and thrilling to read but staying with you long afterwards.
Nino Ricci, author of The Origin of Species
John Gould's stories are small in the way nests are small. Or globes, or hearts, or irony. He is a unique and most valuable writer.
Bill Gaston, author of The Good Body
Sound bites, fast takes, these quirky stories are bewildering and beautiful. They remind me of Raymond Carver's stories of edgy loss, except these have the added touch of both humor and panic.
Patrick Lane, author of Red Dog, Red Dog
Knocking the cosmos off kilter is what John Gould does in this wonderful collection. His stories are a clear-eyed testament to all the heart-achey miracles that are our lives. Lively, funny, yearning, awe-filled, transformative – it's all here, and in spades.
M.A.C. Farrant, author of Down the Road to Eternity
As with Chekhov's sketches, John Gould's brief fictions contain bits of comedy and pathos, sharp characters, and poignant studies of the dreams and follies of the heart. Gould's style—a blend of cockiness and élan—is original and thrilling. Smart, sexy, and masterful, these piercing one-acts fabulously invoke the comic-tragedy of contemporary domestic life.
David Biespiel, author of Wild Civility