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Sound of All Flesh, The by Barry Webster

Finalist for The Paragraphe Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction in 2006


The Sound of All Flesh is a volume of apocalyptic stories full of loud sounds and bright colours. Daily life becomes infused with a hallucinatory brightness and Rabelaisian energy and excess. In Barry Webster’s unique stories, earthquakes happen when people go too long without sex, a grand piano becomes a sailboat crossing the ocean, and clowns hiding in the Canadian Shield suddenly invade the suburbs of Toronto. We meet a sexually-impotent gay fashionista, a travel writer terrified of being photographed, a suddenly hydrophobic competitive swimmer and an opera singer who finds inspiration by bathing in tubs of margarine. These stories, which meander from Switzerland’s imaginary avenues of cash to the streets of Toronto and Berlin, are musical scores, full of unexpected crescendoes and sudden fortissimos.

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