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Friday May 17, 2013 in Books
It’s October 1944. During a brief respite from the aerial bombardment of London, Sebastian Wigrum absconds from his small flat and disappears into the fog for a walk in the Unreal City. This is our first and only encounter with the enigmatic man we come to discover decades later through more than one hundred everyday objects he has left behind. Wigrum’s bequest is a meticulously catalogued collection of the profoundly ordinary: a camera, some loose teeth, candies and keys, soap, bits of string, hazelnuts, and a handkerchief. Moving through the inventory artifact to artifact, story to story, we become immersed in a dreamlike narrative bricolage determined as much by the objects’ museological presentation as by the tender and idiosyncratic mania of Wigrum’s impulse to collect them.
With its traces of Jorge Luis Borges, Italo Calvino, and Georges Perec, Daniel Canty’s graphically arresting Wigrum explores the limits of the postmodern novel. Having absorbed the logic of lists and the principles of classification systems, the Wigrumian narrative teeters on the boundary between fact and fiction, on the uncertain edge of the real and the unreal.
Readers venturing into Sebastian Wigrum’s cabinet of curiosities must abide only the following maxim: If I can believe all the stories I am told, so can you.
ISBN 13: 9780889227781 | ISBN 10: 0889227780
6 W x 9 H inches | 200 pages
$14.95 CAN / $14.95 US
Backlist | Fiction | Bisac: FIC019000
QUOTES OF NOTE
“This is a new novel genre. An inventory! … The inventory is a list of more or less fantastic objects – sometimes computer-based, electronic, historical, or purely useless – but each finds its place in this collection for one reason or another. In the last part of the book, Daniel Canty mixes fact and fiction, deconstructing our vain attempts to discover the truth. Unique and very exciting!”
– Shannon Desbiens, Les Bouquinistes
“In Wigrum, the reader should expect plenty of humour and a very special cabinet of curiosities. This most original work is difficult to characterize as a novel. Rather, it takes a truly literary approach that will satisfy the curious reader.”
– Mélanie Robert, Voir
“To Sebastian Wigrum, the central character of Daniel Canty’s novel, objects represent the unknowable—the ‘patron saints of a godless world,’ he calls them—and as a collector he has made his life’s work the acquisition and meticulous cataloging of them. … Canty’s dreamlike narrative reads like the ethereal ruminations of a man whose accrual of artifacts has transcended physical limits.”
– The Believer
“Wigrum sets up stories which are fascinating but which receive … sparse, suggestive treatment. The draw of this is that the glimpse of a story tantalizes, so that perhaps our imaginations supply possible stories, or, even more compelling, they reach, only to find that the truth exceeds our grasp. … The museum catalogue writer … is tasked with only suggesting a more complete experience. There is a certain impulse towards honesty in writing a novel in that mode: the form that clings most closely to ‘reality’ here demonstrates its commitment to that by applying itself with scholarly diligence to the construction of a system of traces. [Wigrum’s] stories, always changing and questioning their own truth, work to model (like a museum diorama) the way that we all construct our own history and experience.”
– Glasgow Review of Books
“Those imaginative enough will leave with their pockets stuffed with stones, metal bits, shards of crockery. They will tell their friends what it is and the things will transform before their eyes. In a hidden recess of themselves, even those who say they don’t believe will believe. … a special, and rare accomplishment: form, content, and style align to make a complete work, with the loose ends being purposeful… as Canty writes that Wigrum ‘commenced ceasing to exist,’ the ending, and the disconnections, are opportunities to take our own risks, creating the rest of the stories, linking what we are able, and letting be lost what must be lost.”
– P. T. Smith, Three Percent
“a new kind of novel that blends the line between reality and fiction in small ways that are nonetheless important”
– Jenny Blenk Book Reviews
Winner of 2014 Alcuin Award for Book Design in Canada (Third Place, Fiction category)
Grafika Grand Prize Winner (Typography), 2012
About the ContributorsDaniel Canty
Daniel Canty is a Montreal-based writer and film director who works in literature, film, theatre and design, and new media. Canty collaborated with the pioneering multimedia studio DNA Media, in Vancouver, and directed the inaugural issues of Horizon Zero, the Banff New Media Institute’s web space on the digital arts in Canada.Oana Avasilichioaei
Oana Avasilichioaei is a poet, translator, and editor whose poetry collections include We, Beasts (winner of the Quebec Writers’ Federation’s A.M. Klein Prize for Poetry) and feria: a poempark. She has translated the work of Romanian poet Nichita Stanescu and Quebecois writer Louise Cotnoir.
We gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Canada Council for the Arts; the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund (CBF); and the Province of British Columbia through the British Columbia Arts Council for our publishing activities.