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The Night Piece: Collected Short Fiction

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A career-spanning collection of stories from the author of Fifteen Dogs, winner of the Scotiabank Giller Prize, the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize, and Canada Reads. Vivid, profound, moving, and with moments of sly humour, the stories in The Night Piece reveal worlds both familiar and deeply strange. Drawing from Alexis's acclaimed debut collection, Despair and Other S A career-spanning collection of stories from the author of Fifteen Dogs, winner of the Scotiabank Giller Prize, the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize, and Canada Reads. Vivid, profound, moving, and with moments of sly humour, the stories in The Night Piece reveal worlds both familiar and deeply strange. Drawing from Alexis's acclaimed debut collection, Despair and Other Stories of Ottawa, and the highly original Beauty and Sadness, and including previously uncollected stories, here is the surreal and brilliant short fiction of Andr� Alexis--one of Canada's most extraordinary writers. With an Afterword by Madeleine Thien


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A career-spanning collection of stories from the author of Fifteen Dogs, winner of the Scotiabank Giller Prize, the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize, and Canada Reads. Vivid, profound, moving, and with moments of sly humour, the stories in The Night Piece reveal worlds both familiar and deeply strange. Drawing from Alexis's acclaimed debut collection, Despair and Other S A career-spanning collection of stories from the author of Fifteen Dogs, winner of the Scotiabank Giller Prize, the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize, and Canada Reads. Vivid, profound, moving, and with moments of sly humour, the stories in The Night Piece reveal worlds both familiar and deeply strange. Drawing from Alexis's acclaimed debut collection, Despair and Other Stories of Ottawa, and the highly original Beauty and Sadness, and including previously uncollected stories, here is the surreal and brilliant short fiction of Andr� Alexis--one of Canada's most extraordinary writers. With an Afterword by Madeleine Thien

30 review for The Night Piece: Collected Short Fiction

  1. 4 out of 5

    Krista

    At night, it was easy to imagine a sacred world adjacent to this one, a world in which everything human was diminished and every speck of earth was a symbol of the divine or its opposite. It was even possible, at night, to imagine the worlds as porous, the divine (or its opposite) intruding on the banal, though he had no real access to that other world and only glimpsed it in strange dreams. For the most part, the miraculous seemed to shun him. It had left his life ages ago. The Night Piece i At night, it was easy to imagine a sacred world adjacent to this one, a world in which everything human was diminished and every speck of earth was a symbol of the divine or its opposite. It was even possible, at night, to imagine the worlds as porous, the divine (or its opposite) intruding on the banal, though he had no real access to that other world and only glimpsed it in strange dreams. For the most part, the miraculous seemed to shun him. It had left his life ages ago. The Night Piece is the collected short fiction of André Alexis, and if, like me, you’ve only known Alexis from the novels that make up his “quincunx” project, these stories might seem to be from the mind of a different author. With tales for the most part weird and uncanny, Alexis pushes the reader to confront those things that go bump in the dark — even if, or perhaps especially if, they only bump around in the dark of one’s own mind — and they ultimately expose relatable truths about community, connection, and dislocation. Consistently interesting and unpredictable, in smooth and polished prose, this beefy collection masks psychoanalysis in Gothic storytelling and I enjoyed the whole of it. (Note: I read an ARC through NetGalley and passages quoted may not be in their final forms.) The Soucouyant had long, dark hair, almond-shaped eyes, a nose that was a trifle broad, full lips, and a strong chin. Her neck was graceful, her breasts full, her hips narrow. Were it not for her breath, she was his imagined ideal of a brown-skinned woman. (But she was nothing of the sort. She was neither beautiful nor attentive. Her hair was not soft, nor were her breasts full. “She” was not a woman, after all.) Some of my favourite bits: The spooky Caribbean fable of the Soucouyant brought to life in The Night Piece; the bizarre eroticism of The Third Terrace (involving only sex workers’ hands and assorted fabrics and lubricants); divining the source of creative inspiration (with attendant humour about Canadian literature) in A (“All their names began to lose sense: Onwood, Munwood, Mistwood...Why, he wondered, had he ever wished to belong to such a cloudcuckoo world?”). Throughout, there are countless ghosts and gods and civil servants; dreams and trains and so many cups of tea; poets and novelists and other madmen (Alexis himself appears or is referenced more than once; not quite flatteringly). I’ll also note that with most of these stories set in Ontario between Ottawa and Toronto, I was (naturally) engaged by familiar landscapes; most entranced by tales that set loose the strange in my mundane. I seemed to glimpse a purpose to the universe: everything is pushed from behind or held in place. The stars couldn't move. The sun was held fast; the earth was constrained. All we could do, any of us, was spin. All that we want, and all we pursue, gives the illusion of movement, of liberty. There is no movement, no liberty, only local phenomena of such paltry significance it’s a wonder we get out of bed for them. And while these stories are, for the most part, spooky and surreal, Alexis uses them to explore a consistent philosophy. This collection is interesting to read on a storytelling level, even more interesting to think about after the fact, and I am happy to have met this other side of an author I thought I already knew.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Kammy

    Thank you to the publisher for a copy of This book via netgalley! A beautiful Canadian book!! Highly recommended especially for anyone living or haven’t lived in Ottawa! You will laugh and smile at the familiar places described in This book while being totally intertwined in the beautiful language of these short stories. Makes you crave more!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Matthew Fron

    Really good collection of stories. A few of them really effectively capture the ghostly or liminal feel of Ottawa at times. Particular standouts: the Night Piece; Despair; the Third Terrace; Letters; Cocteau. Reminded me of Thomas Ligotti or Paul Auster at times.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Ben Truong

    The Night Piece: Collected Short Fiction is a collection of twenty-three short stories written by André Alexis. It is a wonderful collection about life in Ottawa and Toronto. This book serves as an entry (A book by a local author) in The Indigo Reading Challenge 2021. I just clicked the link provided for this entry and found this book rather interesting. For the most part, I rather like most of these contributions. The Night Piece: Collected Short Fiction collects fifteen short stories, ten micro- The Night Piece: Collected Short Fiction is a collection of twenty-three short stories written by André Alexis. It is a wonderful collection about life in Ottawa and Toronto. This book serves as an entry (A book by a local author) in The Indigo Reading Challenge 2021. I just clicked the link provided for this entry and found this book rather interesting. For the most part, I rather like most of these contributions. The Night Piece: Collected Short Fiction collects fifteen short stories, ten micro-fictions, and an afterward by Madeline Thien grouped into three sections. The stories are mainly taken from "Despair and Other Stories from Ottawa" and "From Beauty & Sadness" with five micro-fiction book-ended the series from Ottawa and Toronto respectively. Like most anthologies there are weaker contributions and The Night Piece: Collected Short Fiction is not an exception. A few of stories were difficult for me to connect and comparatively not written as well as others, but they seems to be the outliers of a wonderful collection. All in all, The Night Piece: Collected Short Fiction is a wonderful, surreal, and brilliant collection of short fiction from one of Canada's most extraordinary writers.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Tina

    THE NIGHT PIECE: Collected Short Fiction by André Alexis was so compelling! Admittedly I’m not a huge fan of short stories but Fifteen Dogs is one of my fave books ever so I was very excited to read more of his writing. I loved how many of the stories featured Ottawa or Toronto and I really loved all the unexpected humour throughout the whole book. It was also really fun to read a story with the same characters in his novel The Hidden Keys which I just read earlier this month. My fave work in th THE NIGHT PIECE: Collected Short Fiction by André Alexis was so compelling! Admittedly I’m not a huge fan of short stories but Fifteen Dogs is one of my fave books ever so I was very excited to read more of his writing. I loved how many of the stories featured Ottawa or Toronto and I really loved all the unexpected humour throughout the whole book. It was also really fun to read a story with the same characters in his novel The Hidden Keys which I just read earlier this month. My fave work in this book is the novella A which is about Alexander Baddeley, a book reviewer, who meets his favourite writer. I could totally relate to him. I’d recommend this book to anyone who’s a fan of Alexis or Can Lit in general! . Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada via NetGalley for my advance review copy!

  6. 4 out of 5

    Emma Harris

    Dear all high school English teachers: Please use pieces from this collection to teach your short story units. If I had read a single one of these in my high school lit classes I would have actually enjoyed it. It's been two weeks and I'm still thinking about #5 from the Ottawa letters. Alexis' writing is haunting, thought-provoking, and so incredibly well-thought out. Strong recommend for contemporary short fiction! Dear all high school English teachers: Please use pieces from this collection to teach your short story units. If I had read a single one of these in my high school lit classes I would have actually enjoyed it. It's been two weeks and I'm still thinking about #5 from the Ottawa letters. Alexis' writing is haunting, thought-provoking, and so incredibly well-thought out. Strong recommend for contemporary short fiction!

  7. 5 out of 5

    D'Arcy White

    There are times this writer makes me laugh out loud. But this is very much a book by, about, and for Canadians, and perhaps Canadian writers in particular. If you are not from or familiar with Ottawa and Toronto you are less likely to enjoy the book. An early poke at Ottawa had me guffaw, and the stories about TO at the end made me smile. But much of it in the middle meandered into the surreal in a way I didn’t much enjoy. He’s a clever writer. But not my personal cup of tea

  8. 4 out of 5

    Anna-Lisa

    I read this over an extended period of time, for various reasons (still blaming Covid in 2021). Alexis is a fantastic writer and this series of short stories and novellas seems to focus on the "fantastical". I enjoyed it and while I have never lived in Ottawa or Toronto, anyone who has lived in those cities will enjoy these stories that much more. I read this over an extended period of time, for various reasons (still blaming Covid in 2021). Alexis is a fantastic writer and this series of short stories and novellas seems to focus on the "fantastical". I enjoyed it and while I have never lived in Ottawa or Toronto, anyone who has lived in those cities will enjoy these stories that much more.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Paul

    Alexis is a very talented writer, but I found these short pieces to be darker and often more bizarre than his novels, sometimes to the point of being unsettling. One of the few exceptions (and the standout piece) is the Novella "A", which on its own is a 5-star story. Alexis is a very talented writer, but I found these short pieces to be darker and often more bizarre than his novels, sometimes to the point of being unsettling. One of the few exceptions (and the standout piece) is the Novella "A", which on its own is a 5-star story.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Shonna Froebel

    I tried, but I just couldn't get into the stories here. Some are definitely strange, like those weird dreams you get that make no sense, and it just got tiring to read after a while I made it to page 131 before I gave up. I tried, but I just couldn't get into the stories here. Some are definitely strange, like those weird dreams you get that make no sense, and it just got tiring to read after a while I made it to page 131 before I gave up.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Cathy

    Did not finish this book but it doesn’t mean that I did not like it. Ended up needing to read some other books. Some of the stories were a bit weird for my tastes. I like this writer and will definitely keep reading future novels.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jon Weller

    Entirely different from his novels, dark and strange and sort of disturbing at times. Not my kind of thing, but still a brilliant writer.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Carol Harrison

    Quirky, dreamlike stories reminiscent of Murakami, one of my favourite authors, but with a Canadian twist. The stories are organized like a concerto, with a coda at the end.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Anna Macdonald

    Goodreads, I really want there to be a half-star, please! 3.5

  15. 4 out of 5

    Olivia Raiche-tanner

    I love short, magical realism fiction. What a good time

  16. 4 out of 5

    Della Fuller

  17. 4 out of 5

    Kim

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

  19. 4 out of 5

    Kelsey

  20. 5 out of 5

    Rhonda Miller

  21. 4 out of 5

    Karyn Kostiuk

  22. 4 out of 5

    Andrea Paterson

  23. 4 out of 5

    Liam

  24. 5 out of 5

    Charli Winking

  25. 5 out of 5

    Nicolas

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jan Boomhouwer

  27. 5 out of 5

    Monica

  28. 4 out of 5

    Helle Lee-Smith

  29. 4 out of 5

    Chris Schroeder

  30. 4 out of 5

    TJ Laplante

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