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Once You Break a Knuckle: Stories Hardcover – 12 Apr 2012

3.4 out of 5 stars 26 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing; First ediiton edition (12 April 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1408830280
  • ISBN-13: 978-1408830284
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 2.4 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 716,142 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

D.W. Wilson's stories have a wonderfully raw, vernacular energy which carries the reader through some dark and spitefully funny moments. This is a cracking read (Jon McGregor)

"The Dead Roads" was the stand-out winner of the 2011 BBC Short Story Award. My worry was that it might also be the stand-out story in this debut collection, but no - the standard is consistently, astonishingly high throughout. There are echoes of Wells Tower and Russell Banks, but Wilson's voice is distinctive, confident and completely enthralling (Geoff Dyer)

Excellent Canadian short stories ... Poignant (John Burnside, Scotsman Books of the Year)

Robust, musical, slyly funny, and shining a fearless light into the yearning male heart, these powerful stories should be required reading for any curious females of the species (Bill Glaston)

There are indeed echoes of Richard Ford and Raymond Carver here - most strikingly Carver, in content certainly - but Wilson's description and dialogue also attain the same lean, elemental punch, a total and exhilarating exclusion of the extraneous (Globe and Mail)

Macho Mounties, Boyish Boyz + Beers, Tough Times. + good writing (Margaret Atwood, Twitter)

Spiky, gritty short stories ... Wilson's world is dangerous and unpredictable, and his writing has a terrific, understated force (Kate Saunders The Times)

This is one of the finest pieces of debut fiction I've encountered in the last few years, and with it DW Wilson takes his place with other North American writers such as David Vann and Daniel Woodrell in eking out savage grace and empathy through muscular prose and the desperate circumstances of his characters ... all of the stories deal with the machismo ever present in such communities, but they do so in a beautifully rounded, three-dimensional way ... Wilson is fantastic at that old creative writing adage of 'show, don't tell', managing to speak volumes fort the state of mind of his characters simply by the way they handle a tool belt, slug a beer or slip their truck into gear ... throughout this collection, Wilson's prose is whittled down to the bone yet still carries an intense, visceral power. The economy and precision of his language will be the envy of many more experienced writers, and there is real literary skill on show here, Wilson imbuing his tales with a fist-clenching lyricism and a deeply felt pathos. At times, the emotional tension and downtrodden bleakness are almost overpowering, but Wilson always somehow manages to temper these with a little hope, a little humanity, a little dignity. This is a really exceptional debut, and an emphatic calling card from a genuine talent. I can't wait to read what he writes next (Sunday Herald)

A singular gift for combining taut, highly economical observations of men in their day to day lives with real tenderness and a restrained lyricism about the natural world - it is this ability that one finds in DW Wilson ... a massive achievement (Guardian)

Superb debut collection of stories from the winner of the BBC National Short Story Award (Sunday Times)

A collection of muscular short stories

(Guardian)

Hugely accomplished debut ... A superb vision of entire lives played out against the stifling yet homely backdrop of an isolated community. Wilson leaves an unforgettable mark in his sublimely judged depiction of boys and men tussling with one another (Sunday Times)

Book Description

The debut collection by the winner of the BBC National Short Story Award 2011

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Wilson's stories are set in far reaches of British Columbia, in the remote town of Invermere, a world of dead-end jobs, broken families, and brutal winters. The twelve stories cover three generations, using recurring characters but changing perspectives. They plot the relationship between fathers and sons, and of men and their loves.

It is a tough, unsophisticated world, populated by everyday men, good and bad, brave and cowardly. They are interested in firearms, alcohol, cars and women. They strive to redeem themselves and realise their limited ambitions, while struggling against the reality of their lives.

Great writing opens up a world, makes its characters real, and leaves you feeling as if you have known them all their lives. I enjoyed this book more than anything else I have read in the last twelve months.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a great book of connected short stories. Funny, insightful and more than anything, honest. The stories are set in British Columbia (forgive my vague geography) but even in this cold climate, the human warmth of the characters and unflinching writing makes the pages glow. One of those books you never want to finish, which is always a good sign. More please Mr Wilson.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
you become enmeshed in the lives of working class characters who are vulnerable, adorn masks and display some resolution in futility. the writing carries you into different scenarios, you glimpse the window of someone's life. and then the characters are resumed later and welcome it is, sat happily in a cafe in a rainy Inverness awaiting a connection to the Northern Isles, this book gave me a pleasant few hours with a few left to read...
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By NB on 2 Nov. 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a great collection of stories, cleverly inter-linked. The hype is true, but the blurb lets the book down - it's better than they say. Up near the top of my charts for the year so far.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
These stories all feature men, doing the jobs and taking part in the hobbies that appeal to men. What makes the them interesting is that almost all involve women not behaving as the men expect or want them to. Most of these men seem to react to women with complete puzzlement. This makes the stories poignant (and they are all very well-written) but the repetitive themes became a little bit boring.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I'm not sure how I became aware of this book, but what an innovative treasure. The author's award-winning debut novel is an imaginative collection of short stories, many told in the first person, tied together by being set in the Kootenay Valley of British Columbia (where the author was born and grew up). It's a series of snapshots that together build an album of life, love and relationships in small-town Canada, much of it centred around working class folk with limited hopes and aspirations. However, this seemingly depressing scenario is lifted by the convincingly detailed prose and descriptive passages. I was reminded in parts of James Joyce's stream-of-consciousness technique by the effective sparse punctuation. Gloomy as some of the stories seem, at times, to someone lucky enough to have moved around and travelled quite a bit, the author manages to round off the book on a note of optimism and future contentment. The book is a diversion from established novel techniques, where a sequential story is expected, but I found it fresh and fascinating. The descriptive passages carry a similar weight and veracity to C.J. Box's books set in his native Wyoming. For under a fiver in Kindle form, this is a true bargain that I'll be recommending to friends (it's already in my wife's Kindle). Highly recommended as an insight to a very different lifestyle and environment.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
You'll want the earth to swallow you up after reading this book: the prose is exquiste and never less than gentlemanly despite the surroundings. It is a noble savage sort of book; quite poignant and very moving.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I can see now why this collection of DW Wilson's short stories has received such mixed reviews.

At one level the stories represent a really well written, thought provoking insight into the macho world of backwater Canada, and at the other it is simply a really challenging and sometimes not massively rewarding read. The challenge is compounded by the fact that what we have are a collection of linked stories that are not set out in a chronological order, which left me (for one) struggling to understand how they fitted together and hence extract any feel for what the story cycle itself says.

In summary, a collection of stories that at times gripped me with the power of the writing, but at other times left me rather confused and cold.
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