Contemporary Canadian Literature with a Distinctly Urban Twist

Anvil Press

Valery the Great

Valery the Great

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Valery the Great is a crackling, electric collection of dark humour that follows the bizarre and beautiful lives of its protagonists. Sometimes sweet and gentle, sometimes sharply sarcastic, the unique narrative voices in this collection are always powerfully touching.

Praise for Valery the Great

“By turns comic, pathetic, and tenderly tragic, Valery the Great is a charming collection.”
— Quill & Quire

“Her voice is scathing, very funny, her stories twisting at the end to leave me a bit stunned. … I loved this book, a short story collections whose curation had as much thought put into it as the stories themselves, a fantastic package with a gorgeous design. In addition to considerable talent, there is furious energy at work here, McCluskey giving it her all, and as a result, reading was a pleasure.”
— Pickle Me This (blog)

“McCluskey is at her finest when she uses sharp humour and skillful, economic description to communicate her fatalistic worldview.”
— The Globe & Mail

“Masterfully crafted short stories expose remarkable qualities of ordinary people … This whole collection is about the unusual. These are stories about people who are ordinary, people who don’t stand out in the crowd and yet somehow, they do extraordinary things … This is an eclectic, darkly comedic collection, entertaining in their content and hard hitting in their message.”
— The Halifax Chronicle Herald

“It may say something about Canada and Canadians that one of our canonical twentieth-century novels was called Beautiful Losers. … it’s the many unique characters and settings that stay with the reader and make this collection well worth reading. Not all of McCluskey’s losers are beautiful, but there is real beauty in Valery the Great.”
— Prairie Fire

“Obviously, there should be more stories about circus bears. Fortunately, Journey Prize finalist Elaine McCluskey has written Valery the Great, about an ursine hockey player and the performing humans around him, an eccentric, intriguing ensemble. … Valery the Great gives his name to McCluskey’s new collection of stories (Anvil Press). It’s a book full of eccentric characters and offbeat situations. It’s also great fun.”
— Uptown Magazine

The Reviewers on Elaine McCluskey’s Previous Books

For Going Fast:
Going Fast is tender and tough-minded, compassionate and dark. It is also exceptionally well-written and frequently hilarious. Elaine McCluskey has written a stunning debut novel.”
—Paul Quarrington

Going Fast is a linguistic tour de force. Elaine McCluskey’s probing eye for detail is as relentless as a welterweight. Her prose is sharp, insightful, and rippingly humourous.”
—Leo McKay

“With its demimonde characters, odd nicknames, and boxing and newsroom settings, Going Fast reads at times like Nova Scotia Damon Runyon. But a melancholy Runyon. It’s also compulsively readable and packed with hilarious wordplay.”
— The Winnipeg Free Press

“McCluskey is a vigorous, colourful and often humorous writer, with a sharp and sometimes wicked eye. . .”
— The Globe and Mail

For The Watermelon Social:
“Elaine McCluskey’s Watermelon Social is a slice of life every bit as juicy and mouthwatering as the title suggests. This debut collection of 10 short stories is a picnic of literary delights that serves up both the comedy and the tragedy of the human condition.”
— The Canadian Press

“Her words and wit are sharp enough to give paper cuts as we read but there is a kind of magic here that is hard to resist. She captures the quintessential Canadian ability to mock ourselves and others as a form of social and personal healing. Although intense, you emerge from the other side a less burdened and far more unfettered person. It is, likewise, a journey well worth embarking upon.”
— Event


  • Publication: Spring 12
  • ISBN: 978-1-897535-89-9
  • Pages: 192 pp
  • Size: 5.75 x 8.75 inches

Elaine McCluskey writes about the people you might find in the corners of life. She has published three short story collections and one previous novel, Going Fast. One of her stories was a Journey Prize finalist; another placed in the Fish international contest in Ireland. She has appeared in journals such as Room, The Dalhousie Review, subTerrain, The Antigonish Review, Fiddlehead, Other Voices, as well as anthologies. She lives in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, with her husband, a news photographer. When not writing fiction, McCluskey, a former Canadian Press bureau chief, teaches journalism part-time and follows sprint kayak competition. She has two children.

Books by Elaine McCluskey