The Winner of the BBC Short Story Award, "The Dead Roads" was acclaimed as "note perfect" and "perfectly constructed" by the jury. Wilson's unforgettable tale of two friends trying to win the affections of a girl in the middle of a road-trip through a gothic landscape is a masterpiece of tension and understatement.
Ballisticsis a family drama with two narratives, both set in Western Canada, thirty years apart. In 2003, while the firestorm rages through Kelowna, Alan West is asked to rescue his estranged father, Jack, who abandoned him as a baby. Alan's grandfather has suffered a heart attack and wants to see his son once more before he dies. So Alan sets off with Puck, a three-legged English mastiff, and a boxful of photographs, newspaper clippings, and other items that once belonged to his father. His quest takes him deeper and deeper into the fires, and he encounters people from his past he never knew: his mother, his father, and a dangerous American who knows far more than he ever lets on. Unbeknownst to Alan, he is tracing a path through events that were initiated years before, in 1969, by American veteran Archer Cole, who deserts the army rather than return to Vietnam and flees to Canada. Archer seeks shelter in Invermere, B.C., where he is given refuge by Alan's grandfather and tries to build a new life from the ashes of his old one. Together with his daughter, Linnea, he regrettably--though not altogether unwillingly--sets in motion the events that will shatter two families and unleash a cycle of violence and longing that come to a climax decades later. Ballistics looks at the bonds that tie a family together; it looks at the relationship between sons and fathers, real and surrogate, and the wounds that can linger for generations when that relationship is betrayed.
Set in the remote Kootenay Valley in western Canada, Once You Break a Knuckle tells stories of good people doing bad things: two bullied adolescents sabotage a rope swing, resulting in another boy's death; a heartbroken young man refuses to warn his best friend about an approaching car; sons challenge fathers and break taboos. Crackling with tension and propelled by jagged, cutting dialogue, the stories interconnect and reveal to us how our best intentions are doomed to fail or injure, how our loves can fall short or mislead us, how even friendship-especially friendship-can be something dangerously temporary. Wilson's world is always dangerous, barbed with violence and the possibility of betrayal. And yet, in this small, finely-wrought universe, a dogged, wry dignity is usually enough to see us through. An intoxicating alloy of adrenaline and the kind of vulnerability we would all admit to if we were honest, Once You Break a Knuckle is about the courage it takes just to make it through the day.