This first short fiction collection by prominent Canadian journalist Russell Wangersky uses vivid descriptions to conjure a world inhabited by people in all their human imperfections.
Russell Wangersky's characters, caught in a variety of human dramas, make some remarkably bad decisions. A labourer enjoys newfound popularity among his co-workers after losing several fingers in a work accident and, in the face of returning invisibility, makes a desperate decision. An elderly shut-in uses the world view she absorbs from talk radio to shroud the lies in her own life, creating necessary scapegoats to uphold her distortions. A man on vacation decides to stay in a hot tub all day and all night, rather than face his wife and disintegrating family. Other men on the lam from their lives hide in hotels to contemplate suicide, or drive day and night to escape the nightmares that sleep brings.
In these stories, few people seem to escape the consequences of their bad decisions; while some are redeemed, others are left to fates that the reader feels drawn into. As a backdrop, often a counterpoint, to these very human struggles, Wangersky paints vivid, exquisite canvasses of their surroundings. Through landscapes and seascapes of his long-time home in Newfoundland, through startling weather, fine woodworking, and the machinations of factory and family, he presents us with note-perfect descriptions of an often-stunning, if flawed, world.
Wangersky reminds us that even bad decisions can be cause for celebration, of what it means to be human.
The Hour of Bad Decisions was included in the top 100 books for 2006 by both the Globe and Mail and the Toronto Star. It was a finalist, Excellence in Writing, for the Winterset Award; a finalist, Best First Book, Commonwealth Writers' Prize; a finalist, Book of the Year in Short Stories, ForeWord Magazine; a finalist, Award for Publishing, Saskatchewan Book Awards. The Hour of Bad Decisions also landed on the long list for the Scotiabank Giller Prize.
“The Hour of Bad Decisions by Russell Wangersky (Coteau Books) is a collection of beautifully crafted stories, clean and metaphorically rich. Portraits in time, they gesture toward the stubborn and inescapable bravado of error and mistake, and yet are heartbreaking for their helpless inevitability.”
Commonwealth Writers Prize
“The stories portray just about every emotion: terrible loss and profound love, loneliness, rage and disappointment, woven with thoughts so intimate and well considered that one almost feels embarrassed reading them. ... These are mature, deeply satisfying stories...”
The Globe and Mail
“Wangersky's short fiction debut, The Hour of Bad Decisions, is a poignant study of these stomach-churning U-turns. As divorce has become a standard mid-life rite of passage, many will no doubt identify with this collection. Wangersky has distilled the essence of separation and loss with compassion, grit and eloquence.”