One has lost a child and paints her house blue, another has found a not-so-handy man she can’t get rid of; one perches in a tree and observes the neighbourhood, and yet another goes off into the woods with Jesus. These are some of the “wild pieces” that fill Catherine Hogan Safer’s remarkable new book, Wild Pieces – characters as wry and quirky and heart-wrenching as the short stories in which Safer brings them to life.
In language, taut and beautifully controlled, perfectly pitched and witty, Safer creates an array of unforgettable people. She finds the humble beauty in the life of a woman who spends each day knitting unmatched socks in the mall, and the pathos of a man who gathers small pieces of his father’s life. At once very funny and very sad, here is the dignity of lives lived slightly slant.
To enter these stories is to engage the wildness, the deep ache, the possibility of being alive.
“Readers of Catherine Safer’s wonderful novel, Bishop’s Road, will not be surprised to find themselves loving her new book of stories, but they may not be expecting the variety of voices in it, the unpredictable shifts of plot, the wide range of quirky characters—many of them damaged or troubled or put-upon—and the fascinating turns taken by their lives. Wild Pieces swings all the way from hilarious to heart-wrenching. These crisply written, enigmatic stories never say one iota more than needs to be said. They give voice to the so-called ordinary folks who seldom find ways to speak for themselves, and they keep on percolating in a reader—at least they do in me—well after they end. Literary magic like Catherine Safer’s is rare enough in the world, and to be treasured.”
Stan Dragland, Professor Emeritus, University of Western Ontario, Publisher and Editor, Brick Books
“Hogan-Safer is a rare treat to read because of the vivacity of her characters and the punch and hook of her humour and humanity. Her characters are crackling with life and do unexpected things.”
Chad Pelley, The Overcast.
“Can we add the following to the Wild Pieces file: “Wild Pieces showcases all the strengths of her writing, with its attention to the quotidian day-to-day infused with idiosyncratic humour and some darkling fancies. Her characters often occupy a kind of liminal space, not bordered and perhaps not safe.”
Joan Sullivan, The Telegram
“Hogan Safer’s stories move at a gallop. As I read them I felt exhilarated, as if I were clinging to a mustang’s tail, trying to keep up and, at the same time, focus on the unwinding spool of details.”
Harold Walters, The Southern Gazette
“This collection of short stories wields the power to knock you down. Hailing from Newfoundland, Hogan Safer is a magician, crafting so much in so few words, in small moments you can feel, and in characters who will haunt you… While reading you can expect to laugh out laugh out loud, cry and gasp. If you want a taste of the human experience, a peek into what your neighbours are up to in tiny, heartbreaking snapshots, this book is for you. Sometimes the endings are happy but mostly they just feel real. And we all know real can tear you to pieces.”
Laurie Burns, Atlantic Books Today