The World by Bill Gaston

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The whole, as it were, is somewhat less than its parts. Perhaps, like Stuart in the beginning of the novel, Gaston should have narrowed his focus.
-Toronto Star

Synopsis

Weaving together five heartbreaking stories, Bill Gaston transforms the cruelty of life into something not only beautiful but heartwarming. A recently divorced, early retiree accidentally burns down his house on the day he pays off the mortgage, only to discover that for the first time in his life he’s forgotten to pay a bill: his insurance premium. An old friend of his, a middle-aged musician, prepares for her suicide to end the pain of esophageal cancer. Her father, who left his family to study Buddhism in Tibet, ends his days in a Toronto facility for Alzheimer’s patients. The three are tied together not only by their bonds of affection, but by a book called The World, written by the old man in his youth. The book, possibly biographical, tells the story of a historian who unearths a cache of letters, written in Chinese, in an abandoned leper colony off the coast of Victoria. He and the young Chinese translator fall in love, only to betray each other in the cruellest way possible, each violating what the other reveres most.
 

About Bill Gaston

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BILL GASTON is the author of several much-praised story collections and novels, including Sex is Red, The Good Body, Mount Appetite, and Sointula. Gargoyles was shortlisted for the Governor General’s Literary Award and the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize, and won the ReLit Award and the City of Victoria Butler Prize. In 2002, Gaston was a finalist for the Giller Prize (Mount Appetite) and the inaugural recipient of the Timothy Findley Prize, awarded by the Writers’ Trust of Canada. Bill Gaston lives with his wife, writer Dede Crane, and family in Victoria, British Columbia.
 
Published September 25, 2012 by Hamish Hamilton. 376 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction
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Critic reviews for The World
All: 3 | Positive: 2 | Negative: 1

Toronto Star

Above average
Reviewed by Stephen Finucan on Oct 19 2012

The whole, as it were, is somewhat less than its parts. Perhaps, like Stuart in the beginning of the novel, Gaston should have narrowed his focus.

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National Post arts

Above average
Reviewed by Michael Redhill on Oct 05 2012

The World is, in the end, a novel about the wages of love and attachment, and the fact that life is really about disappearances.

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National Post arts

Good
Reviewed by Michael Redhill on Oct 05 2012

...somehow, it is possible to live, to love, but also, yes, to suffer. That Gaston can send us on this journey without leaving us bereft is a testament to his powers as a novelist.

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