Contemporary Canadian Literature with a Distinctly Urban Twist

Anvil Press

Cretacea & Other Stories from the Badlands

Cretacea & Other Stories from the Badlands

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  • world (outside Canada/US) orders US $20

The stories in Cretacea and Other Stories from the Badlands mostly take place in hot weather, where dust and sweat envelop everyone and everything. A teenage boy spends a summer with his hard-livin’, hard-drinkin’, messed up uncle and has to fight for a position in his new, temporary “family.” A recent widower gets swept up in the world of the local swingers’ scene. A band of misfits struggles to survive at a makeshift commune. An eccentric woman with OCD has a strange fetish that involves the prescription delivery boy. For no particular reason, a fossil-collecting, poetry-reading loner decides to turn sniper and shoot up the town – selecting only non-human targets. Asphyxia games with a sexy transvestite go seriously awry. A distraught man enlists his friendly neighbour in a nighttime river search for his lost daughter. Bored and desperate couples in a trailer park find unique ways to work out their kinks. The plans of a primed-for-action threesome are suddenly derailed when a badly beaten dog is spotted tied up to a parking meter. Fossils and prehistoric sleeping creatures, cattle, rivers, dusty highway gas stations, truck stop diners, guys in small towns with dead-end jobs and unfulfilled dreams, the smell of sage and the sound of cicadas in the air, and redemption is nowhere to be found …

This is not the Alberta world of oil and hockey and wheat, but of people at night, living alternate lives, wearing clothes that usually remain hidden in the depths of closets. When they emerge from these closets wearing these clothes, these shopkeepers, lawyers, and students do things to themselves and each other that it would take Freud to explicate. Everywhere in the valley lies the fear of loneliness, the obsession with desire, and the human fixation with the unknown.

Praise for Cretacea & Other Stories from the Badlands:

“[I]n Martin West’s impressive debut short story collection … readers will encounter echoes of Flannery O’Connor and Barry Hannah.”
— Foreword Magazine

“the 11 tales in Martin West’s debut collection … often surprise with strange, startling images.”
— Alberta Views

  • Publication: June 2016
  • ISBN: 978-1-77214-049-1
  • Pages: 174 pp
  • Size: 5.5 x 8.5 inches

Martin West was born in Victoria and spent his youth working and living in the Canadian west. His previous novel Long Ride Yellow, won the 2018 ReLit Award for Fiction. He was previously a ReLit nominee in the short fiction category in 2016 for his collection Cretacea and Other Stories from the Badlands (recipient of a Gold IPPY award). The title story “Cretacea” was a finalist for the Journey Prize, and his story, “Miss Charlotte,” appeared in the 2017 edition of Best Canadian Stories. Martin currently lives in Calgary, Alberta.

Books by Martin West