Very Good Butter by John Lavery
Finalist for The Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction in 2000
In the story collection Very Good Butter, characters are like electrons. As they spin they attempt to overcome their potential differences, they move in and out of each other’s orbits, emitting, as they do, a few photons of light. Their efforts, however, are constantly altered, and even undermined, by the unpredictable influence of the outside world’s chemical activity. Touching, terrifying, and funny, Lavery’s stories are about people trying to understand their place in the world. Like those who believe we dream backwards, that the mind reconstructs a dream from the moment of waking, the stories in Very Good Butter lead toward possible beginnings. They are attempts, in the deepest sense, to keep the reader reading, dreaming wakefully-attempts to construct a destiny that is appropriate to the essential mystery behind the first encounter of the principals. For Lavery, it doesn’t matter whether stories span minutes or years: everything is enclosed within a first, germinal instant.
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