The Dead Are More Visible by Steven Heighton
I really enjoyed Steven Heighton’s new collection of short stories. This is fresh invigorated writing and looks at life and relationships from a male perspective but not to the point of being a “guy book”. It continues to surprise me that Heighton is not more well known with the general public in Canada as one of our great writers.
I will focus on a couple of the stories I especially liked. The opening story, “Those Who Would be More” has such a great title. It sets the theme for the collection and is from the point of view of a young man teaching in Japan engaged almost half-heartedly in an affair with his boss. I love Heighton’s women: strong, tough, sleek and indifferent to their lovers. My favourite story is “Shared Room on Union” where the protagonist and his girlfriend are locked in the trunk of a car together. I wonder if he got this idea from the Tragically Hip song? It is a classic set-up for a story: what happens to my two characters if I put them together in a situation like this and make them interact with others? I had previously read this story when originally published in The Fiddlehead and I will add that it won a National Magazine Award gold medal.
These are great stories about love and relationships. Particularly good reads for those that appreciate the craft, not just what the story is about but how it is told.
Reviewed by Andrew MacPherson