I don’t normally gravitate towards short story collections — give me a good, meaty novel I can get lost in! — but this collection by Ed Kavanagh really drew me in from the very first story. This is Kavanagh’s first book since his award-winning The Confessions of Nipper Mooney more than 10 years ago, and the time and effort he’s put into crafting these stories really shows. His characters are outsiders, people on the margins, and there are moments of striking clarity and compassion in every story. The longest piece in the collection, “The Strayaway Child,” is the only one not set in the present or recent past, and it draws such an evocative picture of a threadbare childhood in Depression-era Newfoundland that I wished this one were a novel — it would probably be one of my favourite novels of the year. But as a short story collection, this is a book not to be missed.