Running the Whale’s Back

Running the Whale’s Back:
Stories of Faith and Doubt from Atlantic Canada
edited by Andrew Atkinson and Mark Harris
$19.95, paperback, 304 pp.
Goose Lane Editions, October 2013

Running the Whale’s Back cover

Admittedly, some readers might question the need for an Atlantic Canadian anthology of “fish stories,” but editors Andrew Atkinson and Mark Harris use the well-trod theme as a loose starting point to examine spirituality and faith (and doubt) in the region’s literature.

On a basic level, the book serves as a “who’s who” of Atlantic short fiction, with stories by established authors such as Alistair MacLeod, Lynn Coady, Ann-Marie MacDonald and Michael Crummey. The works span a 25-year period—as far back as David Adams Richards’ masterful 1978 story, “We, Who Have Never Suffered”—which serves to highlight this perpetual return to contemporary issues of faith: whether that faith be religious, economic, sexual or familial.

That said, the collection’s gritty realism can overwhelm, with only Jessica Grant’s “My Husband’s Jump” offering a momentary respite. These are stories that should be contemplated slowly and treated as individual meditations.

Running the Whale’s Back:
Stories of Faith and Doubt from Atlantic Canada
edited by Andrew Atkinson and Mark Harris
$19.95, paperback, 304 pp.
Goose Lane Editions, October 2013

 

Written By

Sue Carter Flinn is the editor of Quill & Quire, the arts and ideas editor at This Magazine, and books columnist Metro Canada Picks.

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