by Adam Penn Gilders
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Some narrators speak certainly, and others shyly stammer, revealing their stories with reluctance and unease. Think of Moby-Dick, which begins, “Call me Ishmael,” and then consider John Barth’s The End of the Road (1958), which opens on a more jittery note: “In a sense, I am Jacob Horner.” Horner’s nervous squirming came to mind while I was reading Another Ventriloquist, the finely turned and intelligent collection of stories by Adam Gilders, a Canadian author who wrote for the National Post and The Walrus and published his fiction in the Paris Review, among other magazines.
Gilders, who in 2007 died of a brain tumor at age thirty-six, mines such awkwardness for comedy and sympathy. His characters worry and wonder, hardly seeming comfortable in their skin, and when they itch, we itch with them. They, too, seek
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