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Once You Break a Knuckle: Stories [Kindle Edition]

D. W. Wilson
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

In the remote Kootenay Valley in western Canada, good people sometimes do bad things. Two bullied adolescents sabotage a rope swing, resulting in another boy's death. A heartbroken young man chooses not to warn his best friend about an approaching car. Sons challenge fathers and break taboos.

Crackling with tension and propelled by jagged, cutting dialogue, D.W. Wilson's stories reveal to us how our best intentions can be doomed to fail or injure, how our loves can fall short or mislead us, how even friendship - especially friendship - can be something dangerously temporary. An intoxicating cocktail of adrenaline and vulnerability, doggedness and dignity, Once You Break a Knuckle explores the courage it takes just to make it through another day.

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

This powerful collection by the author of Ballistics (2013) is set, as that novel is, in the Kootenay Valley of western Canada, a region that seems oddly akin to the American South, with an assortment of macho (if vulnerable) men, rednecks (“hicks”), pickup trucks, booze, and drugs. Although there is a sameness to the stories—young men working out difficulties with their Great Santini–like fathers and with women, all of whom are described as beautiful—Wilson captures those travails and the British Columbia setting with strength, passion (a not unmixed affection), wit, and compelling imagery. In “Big Bitchin’ Cow,” a young man saves his father from a “mean” bovine; in “The Elasticity of Bone,” another teen arranges a competitive judo match with his unsuspecting dad. Physicality is a strong element in these stories, many related by character and almost all by theme. The book comes with impressive endorsements (Margaret Atwood, Geoff Dyer) and will appeal to readers of Russell Banks and Daniel Woodrell. --Mark Levine


Finalist for the Dylan Thomas Prize

Finalist for the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize

Longlisted for the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award

"Full of life . . . Emotionally powerful . . .Wilson, in the tradition of modern masters like Peter Taylor and Edward P. Jones, makes great use of the underutilized flash-forward to contextualize all that has come before, and to convey the sometimes horrific consequences of what he has just shown us." - The New York Times Book Review

"A massive achievement" - The Guardian

"The stories patiently gather the full power of a novel. By the time he’s done, Mr. Wilson has mapped this place as precisely as any cartographer could." - The New York Times

"Powerful . . . [Wilson writes] with strength, passion (a not unmixed affection), wit, and compelling imagery . . . Will appeal to readers of Russell Banks and Daniel Woodrell." - Booklist

"A master of atmospheric detail." - Publishers Weekly

"There’s no denying its raw power." - Kirkus Reviews

"Seems to tap effortlessly into a collective subconscious." - The Globe and Mail

Product Details

  • File Size: 386 KB
  • Print Length: 256 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1408831317
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing; 1 edition (April 12, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007M8373K
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,055,955 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars PENETRATING, PERCEPTIVE & DELIGHTFUL! March 9, 2014
Once You Break a Knuckle: Stories by D.W. Wilson is a wonderful collection of short stories, set in the East Kootenay region of British Columbia. A collection of loosely connected vignettes means different opinions and reactions. Some will be sad and depressed, and some will read meaning into the stories, and that is how life actually is. On the whole, the book is about how people respond to things that happens in their lives.

Featuring 12 stories filled with likeable characters, memorable stories and the beautiful setting of Invermere which played a significant role in these stories, Once You Break a Knuckle is the story of people who are smashed and stoned. They are electricians, plumbers and cops. The stories are full of people bursting and crackling with life, however difficult that life may be. It is a collection of stories that depicts both the harsh reality of life, and its beauty in a small town in British Columbia. More than anything, Wilson’s fascination with relationships comes to the fore through his portrayal of the love-hate between father and sons.

In fine, Once You Break a Knuckle: Stories by D.W. Wilson is a very fine collection of short stories. Readers will truly appreciate the writing style of Wilson. Written mainly from the male perspective but nonetheless penetrating and perceptive, it makes for a delightful reading.
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5.0 out of 5 stars D.W. Wilson's "Once You Break a Knuckle" June 1, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
After months of reading little but heavily internalized, semi-fantastical -- magical is the preferred term, I believe -- stories and novels, Wilson's pieces came as a bracing and unexpectedly vibrant sucker punch of straight-jawed, straight-talking realism. Yet, the stories are deeply touching, even moving, as well, as they deal with broken friendships, sundered romances and marriages hanging (or not) by a thread. The stories came at the perfect moment for me, venturing as I was (in my own stuff) much more intensely into the realm of the real-world than I had for a very long time. Finding, after I'd finished the book, that this author is not even thirty came as a stunning surprise considering the breadth of his empathy and understanding for characters who teeter on the cusp of old age, which round out his lively portrayals of those his own age and younger. The fractious, yet undeniably loving relationship of the Crease father and son are the highlights of the book, especially in the opening and closing stories. In particular, Wilson's apparently depthless fount of crass, vulgar and hilarious t-shirt slogans, worn by the always-raucous Crease dad, make these pieces sing.
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