Contemporary Canadian Literature with a Distinctly Urban Twist

Anvil Press

The Devil You Know

The Devil You Know

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The Devil You Know is the follow-up volume to Farrell’s critically acclaimed debut collection, Sugar Bush & Other Stories.

These stories deal with sex, love, work, birth, and death in alternately moving, shocking, funny, and at times devastating ways. Whether these characters are facing the death of a parent, bad love choices, the possibility of unwanted pregnancy, the rupture of friendships, teen violence, or the exploration of sado-masochistic sex, Farrell exposes their ticking cores and pulls the reader along every step of the way.

“Farrell effectively forges her image as a bad-ass version of Alice Munro. Like Munro, she’s a short story writer who focuses on the lives of girls and women in small-town Canada, but Farrell’s characters get high on mushrooms and dabble in BDSM.”
The Georgia Straight

Jenn Farrell’s smart, observant stories about desire and escape take us to the places we’re all afraid to admit we’ve been. Read The Devil You Know with greed and a hot, pleasurable hint of guilt.
— Sally Cooper
author of Love Object and Tell Everything

There are points in Jenn Farrell’s amazing collection that I felt like I was listening in on the most intimate conversations of strangers—I was rapt with attention, but almost guilty for being privy to such intimacy. The Devil You Know treads familiar territory—small town ennui, adolescent love, grief and self-destruction—but does it with such emotional acuity that it doesn’t feel familiar at all, it feels extraordinary.
— Catherine Hanrahan
author of Lost Girls and Love Hotels

Make no mistake; The Devil You Know belongs on the shelf alongside Nights Below Station Street. In this confident, insightful, often horrifyingly funny collection, Jenn Farrell distinguishes herself as one of Canada’s finest contemporary writers of short fiction. Here are working class family dramas boiled down to the bone. Quick and mean as a Virginia Slim and bright and harsh as a Rexall at midnight, Farrell never fails to bring us down to earth to meet those beautiful, flawed, undeniably human devils we know so well. Refreshingly honest, impeccably written. A very, very good book.
— Elizabeth Bachinsky
author of Home of Sudden Service

The Devil You Know has a distinctly urban thrust, with many of the stories taking a voyeuristic view of small-town girls trying to make their way in big cities. The reader watches them discover that it’s the same shit, different town. … Complex, multi-layered sentences and language achieve a ‘simple’ colloquial voice that is not simple to achieve. …”
The Malahat Review

“Farrell excels at very short, sharply realized tales that display a startling repertoire of styles and structural innovations.”
Vancouver Review

The Devil You Know is a powerful, revealing read from an uncompromising writer. The women in these stories are real, three-dimensional, alive, and thinking. Smart and sexy.”
— The Rover

“… [Farrell] works her characters expertly through each story, holding the reader in her hand and showing readers something fresh, provocative, sombre, sad and — above all — real about human behaviour via her voyeuristic fiction. Excellent stuff.”
Front&Centre


  • Publication: Spring 2010
  • ISBN: 9781897535066
  • Pages: 128 pp
  • Size: 5.75 x 8 inches

Jenn Farrell is a two-time winner of the Vancouver Courier fiction contest, recipient of the 2002 Maclean-Hunter Endowment Prize for non-fiction, and a contributor to CBC radio. Her stories have previously appeared in Prism and subTerrain magazine. Also a prolific columnist, commentator, and reporter, Ms. Farrell has written for Alive, Canada's Healthy Living Guide, Raven's Eye, and West Coast Editor. Born and raised in the “Golden Horseshoe” of Ontario, she now lives in Vancouver, where she works as a freelance writer and editor.

Books by Jenn Farrell