Medals and Prizes: Deftly crafted stories filled with dark comedy

Book review: Metcalf is an accessible writer whose engaging collection spans a life’s work

John Metcalf’s collection is as informative as it is entertaining.

John Metcalf’s collection is as informative as it is entertaining.

“After the ham and Ambrosia Creamed Rice, he’d walked the neighbourhood – dark factories across the canal, bomb-sites, news agents, fish and chips, Primitive Methodist Church, barber, The Adora Grill – and had ended up in the Leighton Arms where in deepening depression he drank five pints of the stuff manufactured opposite his room, an independent product called George’s Glucose Stout.”

From dingy student digs in postwar England to the jaded tourist landscapes of Italy to the stultifying atmosphere of Canada’s literary elite, one of John Metcalf’s many skills is to render the backdrops of his short stories with bright, original detail.

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