Bad News of the Heart

Douglas Glover“Sad, sexy, and significant.” (starred review, Kirkus Reviews)

“The twelve stories in this uncompromising and superbly artful collection are so varied that it’s sometimes difficult to believe they were written by the same author. One story, for example, begins with a first line of “A woman followed me home to my box today, claiming to be my wife,” and another ends with “At our backs, I still heard the ghostly hiss of money like the beating of a billion unseen wings, but Harley insisted it was just the wind in the pines.” I’ve read few story collections that are as thematically and structurally diverse. The emotional world the stories in Bad News of the Heart unveil, however, is similar: It’s a haunted place full of dark moral ambiguities. Douglas Glover’s remarkable ear and his gift for the vivifying detail are what make the stories in this collection so resonant; his character details are exceptionally well chosen, in fact, that I don’t really know where to begin. (“To keep in shape, I do daily workouts with an S & W .357” from the bellicose little “A Guide to Animal Behavior” is probably my favorite.) A story like the brilliant, forbidding “Dog Attempts to Drown Man in Saskatoon” possesses so much intelligence and contains so many layers that it pierces the heart. A book to be read, and reread, and savored.” (Adrienne Miller in Esquire)

“These stories operate on a level language can’t touch, which is perhaps why Glover’s narrators are doomed to bemoan the impossibility of squaring the written story with the known story, the heart’s story.” (Katherine Preusser in The Stranger)

“Glover has a delightful epigrammatic flair (“Hell, our army won’t even consider fighting a country where the people can afford shoes anymore”; “My wife and I decide to separate, and then suddenly we are almost happy together”) and a startlingly prescient take on affairs of the heart.” (Publishers Weekly)

“His language is crisp, taut, and true, and he ought to be read in the context of Beckett and Cortázar.” (Frederick Busch)

“These inventive, darkly funny stories move between the poles of sex and death” (Andrea Barrett)

I tell her about the man who held me in a closet for eight years against my will, the time in the hospital, the girl I loved who died of anthrax, the accident with the car when I had no insurance and had to pay off the kid’s medical bills holding down three jobs and how he used to come around in that custom wheelchair and taunt me, about my time in ‘Nam, my self-esteem problems, the hole in my nose from drugs, my bladder spasms. . . . (State of the Nation)

….candles all around, the two werewolf women, melancholy with their desires, giving me the eye, horses everywhere I looked, some of them with the little numbers showing through the paint; it seemed utterly dark and human, a story of love, bad news of the heart. And I knew I was going to be the one to go back to the ward for this because inside the machine called Hugo Tangent there was an ON/OFF switch which went click when things got too painful or confusing. I wasn’t worried about this. I was just waiting for the click. (Bad News of the Heart)

Table of Contents

Iglaf and Swan — State of the Nation — Dog Attempts to Drown Man in Saskatoon — The Obituary Writer — A Man in a Box — A Guide to Animal Behaviour — The Indonesian Client — La Corriveau — Why I Decide to Kill Myself and Other Jokes — Bad News of the Heart — My Romance — A Piece of the True Cross.


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