An electrifying debut from the Giller Prize-shortlisted author of Better Living Through Plastic Explosives that takes readers for a wild ride with urban-gothic flair and delectably wicked humour.
Lucy is a lapsed-Catholic whose adolescent pretensions to sainthood are unexpectedly revived.
It all starts when her cousin Zoltan, in hospital following a bizarre incident at a party, offers her a disturbing deathbed confession. Lucy's grief takes an unusual turn: Zoltan's death appears to have turned her into a magnet for the unshriven. Lucy is transformed into a self-described "flesh-and-blood Wailing Wall" as strangers unburden themselves to her. She becomes addicted to the dark stories, finds herself jonesing for hit after hit.
As the confessions pile up, Lucy begins to wonder if Zoltan's death was as random and unscripted as it appeared. She clutches at alarming synchronicities, seeks meaning in the stories of strangers. Why do the stories seem connected to each other or eerily echo elements of her life? Could it be because Lucy has her own transgressions to acknowledge? And then there is that stubbornly resurfacing past, like a tell-tale ribbon of hair snagged on a fish hook.
With ruthless wit and dizzying energy, The Beguiling explores blessings and curses, sainthood and sin, mortality and guilt in all its guises. Weaving together tales of errant mothers, vengeful plants, canine wisdom, and murder, it lays bare the flesh and blood sacrifices people are willing to make to get what they think they desire.
Zsuzsi Gartner is the author of the short fiction collections Better Living Through Plastic Explosives and All the Anxious Girls on Earth, the editor of Darwin’s Bastards: Astounding Tales from Tomorrow, and the creative director of Vancouver Review’s Blueprint BC Fiction Series. Her stories have been widely anthologized, and broadcast on CBC and NPR’s Selected Shorts. Better Living Through Plastic Explosives was shortlisted for the 2011 Giller Prize.
Zsuzsi is a long-time contributing reviewer for The Globe & Mail, and has appeared on CBC’s Canada Reads. A former senior editor at the now-defunct Saturday Night, she has received numerous nominations and awards for her magazine journalism, and a 2007 National Magazine Award for fiction. She has been on faculty for the Banff Centre’s Literary Arts Programs and has been an adjunct faculty member for UBC’s Optional Residency MFA in Creative Writing. Zsuzsi lives in Vancouver.