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The Path of Most Resistance

 

As entertaining as they are insightful, the stories in The Path of Most Resistance are anchored by the concept of passive aggression in our everyday lives: ordinary people who are quietly, desperately, and indirectly trying to impose their will on the uncaring world around them. From a woman who compulsively shops for luggage in order to sublimate her desire for a divorce to a senior citizen who tries to force his family to visit by refusing to eat, the characters in this collection try to change their lives through oblique resistance. 
The Path of Most Resistance is an observant and compassionate look at the feelings of powerlessness that we all share, and will have readers silently cringing and nodding in recognition of their own bad behaviour.

 

“With The Path of Most Resistance, his first new collection since the Scotiabank Giller Prize–shortlisted Whirl Away in 2012, Russell Wangersky affirms his position as one of the finest short-story writers currently working in this country. … Wangersky writes with a tightly controlled eye for detail, a skill with description – both emotional and physical – that blossoms into a rare vitality."

Quill and Quire

“By tapping into the frustration that comes with being ignored or misunderstood, Wangersky is writing stories that speak to a very base emotion in all Canadians; we’re a more aggressive, competitive people than we like to think. But in The Path of Most Resistance, this is tempered by Wangersky’s humour and honest treatment of his characters – a group that readers will recognize in their friends and neighbours, people going about their lives, knowing that no matter the frustration, there’s nothing to do but keep on going.”

The National Post

The collection’s effects come from slow buildup and intense observation rather than stylistic fireworks. The prose is unadorned, the kind that makes its way closer and closer towards the reader at walking pace, without ever drawing attention to itself. The stories are full of precise observations, small gifts of reality: the way damp in the air warns you of an approaching storm, a husband “sunk into his chair like a grounded ship.” It’s fine, detached, and subtle writing.
But there’s something more too, in the way Wangersky eases languidly between action and imagination. Certain brief moments of memory and fantasy, a little like Richard Ford’s thoughtful, dreaming, disconnected men, suggest a different register of interest from the mostly unspectacular events the stories are about.  Structurally, there’s great artistry in the way Wangersky is able to tell, somehow, two stories at the same time, the under-plot gradually easing the main plot out of sight.

Atlantic Books Today