Thursday, September 27

Book Review: Whirl Away

Title: Whirl Away

Author: Russell Wangersky

Pages: EBook 144

Summary: Everyone has something they’re good at: one particular personal skill that they use to keep their lives moving forward when their worlds suddenly become difficult or near-impossible. For some, it’s denial; for others, blunt pragmatism. Still others depend on an over-inflated view of self to keep criticism and doubt at bay.

In his new short story collection, Whirl Away, Russell Wangersky—author of critically-acclaimed fiction and non-fiction including The Glass Harmonica, Burning Down the House: Fighting Fires and Losing Myself and The Hour of Bad Decisions— looks at what happens when people’s personal coping skills go awry. These are people who discover their anchor-chain has broken: characters safe in the world of self-deception or even self-delusion, forced to face the fact that their main line of defense has become their greatest weakness.

From the caretaker of a prairie amusement park to the lone occupant of a collapsing Newfoundland town, from a travelling sports drink marketer with a pressing need to get off the road to an elevator inspector who finds himself losing his marriage while sensuously burying himself in the tastes and smells of the kitchen, these are people who spin wildly out of control, finding themselves in a new and different world.


McNally's Fair
Family Law
Little World
No Harm, No Foul
Look Away
Sharp Corner
Open Arms
The Gasper
I Like

My Rating: 9.5/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: I loved this collection of short stories, which were incredibly well written. I also found that the characterization and plot were incredibly well developed. All of the characters were fleshed out, many deeply flawed characters, who captured me from the start. The plot was no different. Some of the stories seemed to be ones you've heard before. Stories of divorce, the mistress, troubled children and elderly ladies, but something about the writing, the execution and the final twists, made the stories into something very different. Sometimes a very dark and twisted different.

The endings of both Echo and Little World were both shocking. Although I was getting the basic idea of what was happening in Little World, it still had a fantastic ending. In fact, I think most, if not all the short stories in this collection made you stop and think what just happened. My favourites of the collection were Echo and Little World, but Look Away and Sharp Turn are two stories that stick with you for a while and were also good reads, worth mentioning.

It was a collection I read through quickly, but was also one I tried to savour, as I went over what just happened. A remarkable read, that I hope to see make it on the 2012 Giller Finalist list.

Would I recommend it to read: I would. This was a spectacular collection of short stories, incredibly well written, and ones that stay with you after you've finished them.

What to read next: The other 2012 Giller Longlisters, Who Do You Think You Are, Light Lifting

Challenges: 12 in 12 Challenge, 100+ Challenge, Canadian Book Challenge


  1. Now I'm extra glad that I chose this as one of my Giller longlist purchases. With such a positive review, I can't wait to experience the collection for myself!

    1. It was also one of my Giller Longlist purchases, I bought 3 in total. I hope you enjoy it! Experience is the exact word for this collection.

  2. One of the aspects of this collection that I really enjoyed was the balance between plot and character; obviously you really want to what will happen (or, in some cases, what has happened or why it happened) but not just as a voyeur because you become attached to (some of) these characters in a short amount of time. It seems rare to find that combination of qualities, and I can imagine the collection appealing to a wide variety of readers.

    1. You really do become attached to some of the characters, even the more, unsavoury ones. I was ecstatic to see this one make he shortlist. It was truly an amazing book, so far it's my favourite off of the long list. It is rare to see collections like this with those qualities, I hold the author up there with Alice Munro's writing.