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Hamburger (Paperback) (Daniel Perry)

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The dozen stories in this collection represent the coming of age of a young writer. His earliest published work is here along with his later more sophisticated literary efforts. Perry’s fiction explores contemporary life mostly in urban centres like Toronto, though they are not bound by this parameter with stories also set in places such as Venice and Nicaragua. The pieces range from dark satirical perspectives to situational ironies and explore a wide variety of events like wedding receptions, poverty, family life, travel, urban fear, dating and disenfranchisement. The stories fit well into the urban fiction motif and although they frequently carry images of struggle, fatigue, and loss, they move the characters who populate them into decisions that offer tense moments of hope and beauty. Not always plot specific, the stories frequently set in motion a paradox or unresolved event with which the reader is left to grapple.

For example in the story “The Locked Out” a young man who has been out late must weigh a decision of whether or not to wake his shift-working girlfriend to get into their apartment. “I Think I’ll Tell Her Today”, finds a domestic in a complicated sexual relationship with her employer, but the question of who is using whom is not entirely clear. In “The Short Life of Gary Q Stuffholder”, a young woman attends a wedding party without her boyfriend and wades through various forms of imagined pathos, heaped on by the other guests. In the title story “Hamburger”a man waits in the heat of a restaurant thinking about all the things wrong with his dating life, creating a picture of distain and self-loathing while a young waitress hovers expectantly.

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