Instability recurs throughout Douglas Glover’s new short story collection, Savage Love. As the title suggests, love (or at least desire) is the dominant theme, but it is a love so unstable, so rife with conflict, so twisted against itself, that it shakes the confidence of its moorings. This is not love patient and kind, nor slow to anger; it is not a love that leads to calm plains of the soul; it is not the kind of love that will help you achieve satori, young bodhisattva. It is the kind of love that Toni Morrison once described as “one of those deepdown, spooky loves that made him so sad and happy at the same time that he shot her just to keep the feeling going.” In this book, Glover takes us far, far out into a vast sea of imaginative possibilities, shadows, violence, and twisted logic. There is a persistent questioning of the real consistent with his post-modern precursors, but there is also a disappearance into myth and mystery, which isn’t a denial of the world in a swirl of signifiers, but an embracing of its ultimate instability. It is a world that is knowable in fragments; it’s just that the fragments keep falling apart. Glover has always embraced the absurd, but he’s more grounded in facts than Kafka—witness the unlikely and extremely intriguing title of an earlier short story, “Dog Attempts to Drown Man in Saskatoon.” Glover’s catalogue of opening sentences would nearly make a book on its own. He is a master at setting up the awkward and the curious, often romantic, situation that demands explication. The frisson of desired transcendence lost in repeated failure veers seemingly inevitably toward catastrophe. Carol Shields used to say that Alice Munro’s stories don’t end, they swerve into mystery. Glover’s stories enter mystery early and never leave. Readers are drawn along for the journey on slipstreams of luminescent prose.
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