In ten vividly told stories, Shimmer follows characters through relationships, within social norms, and across boundaries of all kinds as they shimmer into and out of each other’s lives.
Outside a 7-Eleven, teen boys Veeper and Wendell try to decide what to do with their night, though the thought of the rest of their lives doesn’t seem to have occurred to them. In Laurel Canyon, two movie stars try to decide if the affair they’re having might mean they like each other. When Byron, trying to figure out the chords of a song he likes, posts a question on a guitar website, he ends up meeting Jessica as well, a woman with her own difficult music. And when the snide and sharp-tongued Twyla agrees to try therapy, not even she would have imagined the results.
Audiobook read by Alex Pugsley and Fiona Highet
Praise for Shimmer
“Looking at Shimmer as a whole, one is struck by Pugsley’s mastery of the short-story form, his ability to distil entire lives’ worth of meaning into a few short pages. He’s not just a writer to watch: he’s a writer to savour.”—Robert Wiersema, Toronto Star
“Pugsley brings out the confusion of life well. No one is in control. Everyone has doubts about themselves and others. His ability to show the twists and turns of our constant, anxious questioning of ourselves makes each story revelatory in a different way. A truly impressive collection!”—Ottawa Review of Books
“[Pugsley’s] story proves that the digital mode of communication, while frequently castigated as impersonal and dehumanizing, can, in the right hands, carry with it strong emotional resonance.”—Steven Beattie, That Shakespearean Rag
Praise for Alex Pugsley
“Aubrey McKee is no austere, white-walled art gallery of a novel. It’s abundant, highly decorated, and unafraid of extravagance, of stylistic excess … From ordinary incidents — a childhood acquaintance, marital strife, a wedding — as well as a few extraordinary ones, Aubrey McKee builds a dazzling and complicated world, a childhood in Halifax as a vibrant universe in itself. While Pugsley’s literary performance is an immediate delight, the portrait of the early days of a ‘wayward oddity’ lingers long after.”—Toronto Star
“Evoking comparisons in both style and substance to the work of John Irving and Robertson Davies in its assemblage of perceptive, richly detailed character studies … The life of a Canadian city is revealed with verve and insight.”—Kirkus
“Although many peoples’ stories comprise the whole of Aubrey McKee, the city of Halifax is also a feature character … the reverence Pugsley provides about Halifax will resonate with anyone thinking about their own hometown, no matter its size or location … The richly defined personalities in Aubrey McKee are void of pretense or judgment and are, at once, knowable. Like a favourite song, it’s the hook that makes the adventures of Aubrey McKee and those he cares about so memorable.”—Winnipeg Free Press
“Pugsley, equal parts poet and meticulous historian of his own private Halifax, has accomplished, with “Aubrey McKee,” a work of high literary art, remaking and claiming the city as his own once again in a sustained performance that pulses with that deep, radical love.”—John Delacourt, The Ottawa Review of Books
“The mesmerizing, kaleidoscopic Halifax depicted in Aubrey McKee is as enchanted as it is benighted, an adolescent fever-dream. This is a rollicking, strange and unforgettable coming of age novel unlike anything you’ve ever read.”—Lynn Coady, Scotiabank Giller Prize-winning author of Hellgoing
“His prose style is among the finest anywhere: humorous, economical, deft without sacrificing accessibility, capable of laying bare the complicated depths, the tenderness, and the strangeness of personal relationships.”—Roo Borson, Griffin Poetry Prize-winning author of Short Journey Upriver Toward Oishida
“Alex Pugsley’s novel, Aubrey McKee, is a whip-smart portrait of the artist at the end of the twentieth century. Funny and wildly intelligent, it captures a somewhat tragic cohort of young, ambitious Haligonians trying to become themselves, all seen through the eyes of the narrator, a young man of incomplete wisdom. In quicksilver prose, Pugsley shows us a whole generation, some of whom are lost, some found, but all viewed with a profound, comic humanity.”—Michael Redhill, Scotiabank Giller Prize-winning author of Bellevue Square
“A wonderful book, it absolutely floored me. It’s been a very long time since I’ve read anything like it … I found Aubrey McKee to be more reminiscent of Dubliners by James Joyce, not only because the sense of place is so strong, but because the narrative in this book is told through interconnected stories.”—Bookin’