THIS WILL BE DIFFICULT TO EXPLAIN AND OTHER STORIES
With this collection of wise, querying stories, Giller Prize winner Johanna Skibsrud introduces us to an astonishing array of characters, showing us through their eyes what even they cannot see and uncorking minor epiphanies in the middle of the most unremarkable days. This Will Be Difficult to Explain takes readers from South Dakota to Paris to Japan, into art galleries, foreign apartments, farms and beach hotels, and shows us the liberating bewilderment of characters who come face-to-face with what they didn’t know they didn’t know. Youth confronted with the mutterings of old age, restlessness bounded by the muddy confines of a back-yard garden, the callow hope coming up against the exigencies of everyday life — these are life-defining moments that weave through everyday lives of Skibsrud’s characters.
A father yearns to bridge the few inches that divide him from his daughter sitting on the seat beside him as they travel by car; another man is so animated by the reckless desire for freedom that he wishes that he could be out on the road with his dog, running beside his truck rather than sitting passively in it. It is these often conflicting, sometimes overlapping desires — for intimacy and for radical freedom – that come to life in the lyrical, probing language that gives This Will Be Difficult to Explain its shape. Insightful and masterfully crafted, these stories bear the mark of one of Canada’s most remarkable voices, and linger in the mind long after the final page has been turned.
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"Her prose is as taut as Alice Munro’s, her plots as spare as Mavis Gallant’s. Her characters have startlingly vivid inner lives…Skibsrud’s new book is just as assured, and it has the same emotional punch."
"The collection reminded me of Mavis Gallant’s Home Truths, with its stories of expats, continent-hopping themes, and also the ability of the narrative to telescope in and out of time…full of deft reveals and fitted with fantastic endings… Clearly Johanna Skibsrud is as at home in the short story form … and my expectations have been more than met. I’m more intrigued by this author than ever before, and convinced that Ali Smith was onto something after all."
Johanna Skibsrud is the author of two collections of poetry. The Sentimentalists, her first novel, was awarded the 2010 Scotiabank Giller Prize, Canada's most prestigious literary award. Originally from Pictou County, Nova Scotia, Skibsrud currently lives in Tuscon, Arizona.