Book Review: Hellgoing by Lynn Coady

Short stories aren’t for everyone, I realize that. In my personal experience, only the dedicated book lovers can really grow attached to short stories. They’re rarely on the best-seller list, and Indigo doesn’t really push them, so many publishers are reluctant to publish them for fear that they won’t sell well. Which, quite honestly, they probably won’t (unless you’re David Sedaris).

You will never sell as many books of short stories as this man

You will never sell as many books of short stories as this man

I always like reading the acknowledgements in the back of a book, for the pathetic reason that because I worked in publishing, I like to see how many names and references I  recognize. You can also learn about strange relationships and connections that are hinted at in this section, at times even shocking realizations can be made if you read in between the lines. Frequently,  acknowledgements in short story collections will also explain where the stories have also appeared, typically literary magazines I never read (feel free to leave outraged comments below about my lack of interest in these magazines, but for god’s sakes I can only read so much, and I’ve chosen to focus on books).978-1-77089-308-5

I’m hoping that Lynn Coady will bring a few people into the short story fan club. This most recent collection is whip smart and smug, with a healthy dose of laugh-out-loud hilarity. The stories are also painfully realistic at times (the title story for instance, nails female gab fests, making me both proud and embarrassed to be a woman all at once). The last story of the collection, “Mr. Hope” is somewhat disturbing, but the childhood memories are priceless, and I marvel at how well Coady can write internal monologues. “Body Condom” is also really funny, although I will say I found the protagonist Kim to be a bit moody for my liking, which was probably purposefully written that way.

You may have noticed that I review short stories quite a bit on this blog, obviously because I like them. Although YOSS may have ended few years ago, I’m still riding that bandwagon, and I’m hoping to pick up some new believers along the way. Because I value honesty and directness, I will tell you right now that you should go out and buy this book, especially if you don’t like short stories, because this will be the beginning of your short story love affair.

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Ps-The Scotiabank Giller Prize is going to announce its shortlist this week, and Lynn Coady is on the longlist this year, so she has a good chance of making it to the finals again! Stay tuned…

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3 thoughts on “Book Review: Hellgoing by Lynn Coady

  1. […] but curious to learn about them as people, rather than writers in history. Similar to my love of reading the acknowledgement sections of books, it’s always fun to look inside the private worlds of the well-known, even if they’ve […]

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  2. […] Treaty Rights for First Nations Women and their Descendants, University of Alberta Press), and Lynn Coady (Hellgoing, House of Anansi Press). You can learn more about the award and other Alberta authors on […]

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