A finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, the stories in Kilter: 55 Fictions are subtle, funny and startling, and are quickly read but long remembered.
With spare, elegant prose Gould crafts quirky gems, compact fusions of humour and pathos. His fictions are full of individuals catching odd glimpses of themselves, of big ideas working themselves out in the minutiae of modern lives. 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.
At the centre of this varied collection is a coherent vision, a vision of human beings as paradoxical creatures, finite and haunted by infinite longings. If this vision is the piñata, each piece is a wildly different whack at it. Gould's writing is serious, joyful and supple, constantly seeking out a fresh voice, a new angle of illumination. Call them sudden or flash, each of these finely wrought works gives us a pure moment, a fulcrum from which we witness a life tilting from kilter to off-kilter and back again.
- "There are big ideas in these 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."
-The Globe and Mail
- "His voices are remarkably genuine, his characters richly described and lively, and the issues he explores provocative. That's Gould's genius. Like anything fine, you want to savour it at least once more."
-The Toronto Sun
- "With clarity, grace, and as few words as possible, Gould's Kilter: 55 Fictions does an astounding job of delivering just what the title promises: a profusion of sparseness, just off-centre enough to entertain without confounding. A true pleasure for any reader in search of a quiet moment."
- "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 these stories after the first paragraph or two."
-The Toronto Star
- "Gould tackles themes and philosophical ideas that would stymie lesser writers, usually in three pages or less. Each fiction offers a multitude of pleasures, affecting both the head and the heart in a mixture of familiar subjects and offbeat twists."
-The Winnipeg Free Press
- "Kilter: 55 Fictions is the best thing I've read in a very long time."
-The Edmonton Journal
- "Gould's tightly written, philosophical collection, which combines the deadly serious with the terrifyingly humourous, can be summed up in one word: mystifying. And mystifying is good."
-- The Glebe Report
- "Kilter will promote great discussion for any book club or group. It is a delicious feast."
- -- Lethbridge Living
- "Each piece gives the book lover much to consider, during and after reading. Some of these may stay with you for years-and that's the mark of a great storyteller."
- -- Victoria Times
- "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 Testament
- "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 Mount Appetite and Sointula
- "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-achy miracles that are our lives. Lively, funny, yearning, awe-filled-it's all here, and in spades."
-M.A.C. Farrant, author of Darwin Alone in the Universe and My Turquoise Years
- "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 humour and panic."
-Patrick Lane, author of The Bare Plum of Winter Rain
John Gould teaches in the writing department at the University of Victoria and serves on the editorial board of the Malahat Review. His short story collection Kilter: 55 Fictions, was a 2003 Giller Prize finalist. His fiction has also appeared in literary periodicals across Canada. John lives in Victoria with his wife and stepchildren.