A Miramichi Reader Best Fiction Title of 2021
Out there by the dock the ocean and the air are just layers of shadow and darkness. But the creature’s flesh hums through the dark—a seep of violet in the weeping night.
From refinery operators to long term care nurses, dishwashers to preppers to hockey enforcers, Chemical Valley’s compassionate and carefully wrought stories cultivate rich emotional worlds in and through the dankness of our bio-chemical animacy. Full-hearted, laced throughout with bruised optimism and sincere appreciation of the profound beauty of our wilted, wheezing world, Chemical Valley doesn’t shy away from urgent modern questions—the distribution of toxicity, environmental racism, the place of technoculture in this ecological spasm—but grounds these anxieties in the vivid and often humorous intricacies of its characters’ lives. Swamp-wrought and heartfelt, these stories run wild with vital energy, tilt and teeter into crazed and delirious loves.
Praise for Chemical Valley
“Huebert’s prose shines, frequently catching the reader off guard with startling but memorable turns of phrase and delirious imaginative leaps. And while the manic energy, eccentric humour and wry observations on life and love keep us entertained, the book’s rich emotional core draws us in, touching us at the most profound level.”—Miramichi Reader
“Huebert is a gifted short story writer. His characters do contain multitudes, each story a set of worlds. Collectively, they reflect our times, and help us contemplate the most dire of threats to our singular habitable planet.”—Atlantic Books Today
“David Huebert’s short stories explore environmental dread and creeping climate chaos, but also the power of love and community in a damaged world.”—Laura Lynch, CBC What on Earth
“Thought-provoking, smart, and frighteningly surreal, David Huebert’s Chemical Valley is a brilliantly crafted collection of short stories that confront the violence of human nature in the natural world.”—The Farside Review
“The stories are varied, featuring oil refinery workers, teenage climate activists, long-term care nurses, and more, showing the issues and intricacies of their lives in lush detail. The grim explorations of wealth inequality, illness, and bereavement are counterbalanced by the rich and lyrical prose, providing heartfelt insights into today’s damaged world and the individuals who inhabit it.”—ZYZZYVA
“Chemical Valley is full of stories that are beautiful, gross, depressing and uplifting all at once. Through the use of dazzling language and complex characters, this deeply thoughtful collection will truly get you thinking.”—Dalhousie Gazette
“By delving into the lives of a range of characters, feral hockey players, grieving shift-workers, and love-sick teenagers, Huebert asks an urgent question—how to survive in a world that values chemicals and capitalism over human life? Lively, affecting, tragic, careful, and shot-through with humor, the stories seeped under my skin. I won’t forget them any time soon.”—Claire Cameron, author of The Last Neanderthal
“These stories are a making and unmaking, a feeling into the world and then a kind of visceral wrenching so that all that is or was once living unwinds and flashes of story break free—binding the reader into the flesh of a burdened earth, still breathing. An ecstatic surrender of beloved flesh, and dream, and carbon beings through geological and human (altered) time. Huebert tinkers human time across industrial effigies that make and break and will one day also be broken—a dream not yet quite dreamt, but this work is part of the dreaming. This collection is, in Huebert’s own exquisite play of words, ‘beautiful and polluted, toxic and sublime.’”—Angélique Lalonde, author of Glorious Frazzled Beings
“Visceral, intelligent, and original, David Huebert’s Chemical Valley displays a deep empathy and understanding of human relationships and a profound concern for our world. I was struck by how Huebert can take the grittiest of subject matter and turn it beautiful with his lyrical, alchemical prose. The stories in this collection are saturated with imagery and full of exquisite, textured language: this is the kind of writing that deserves to be read closely.”—Shashi Bhat, author of The Most Precious Substance on Earth