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Rafael Has Pretty Eyes

Rafael Has Pretty Eyes

254 pages
Published:   March 29, 2022
Fiction  /  Short Story Collections
Paperback:   9781773101637    $22.95

"You go through life convinced you’re going to get diabetes like your old man and one day you choke to death on chicken gristle, and the autopsy shows your blood sugars were perfect."

The seventeen stories in Elaine McCluskey’s latest collection, Rafael Has Pretty Eyes, follow characters who have reached a four-way stop in life; some are deciding whether to follow the signs or defy them; others find a sinkhole forming beneath their feet.

A former fast-talking, big-bucks radio host now lives as a divorced payday loaner working in a strip mall; a football wide receiver at a small Canadian university works the night shift as a bouncer while recovering from his third concussion; a well-liked city councilor is arrested on a packed bus. As one character puts it, "life is just one extended series of anecdotes strung together until they kill you."

Set in the Maritimes but transcending regional boundaries, McCluskey’s stories are experimental, sometimes provocative, and often about those living on the margins. Smart, compassionate and unsparing, Rafael Has Pretty Eyes explores the absurdity and interconnectedness of a life adrift.
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Elaine McCluskey is the author of three acclaimed short-story collections — Hello, Sweetheart; Valery the Great; and The Watermelon Social — and two novels, Going Fast and The Most Heartless Town in Canada. She is a Journey Prize finalist and her stories have appeared in journals such as The Antigonish Review, Room and subterrain. She lives in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.