The Dialogues of Time and Entropy

by Aryeh Lev Stollman
ISBN: 1573222356

Post Your Opinion
A Sharp Tooth in the Fur
by Ibolya Kaslik

Darryl Whetter's "A Sharp Tooth in the Fur" presents a puzzling and intriguing glimpse into the male psyche. Whetter's stories explore responsibility, violence, ownership, marital separation, drugs, academia, adolescence, and sex.
Self-deprecatory and ironic to a fault, Whetter's characters are either middle-aged males, who happen to be teachers or academics, or adolescent boys pushing themselves to physical extremes. The grown men appear stranded between adulthood and extended adolescence. These men cope with their adult responsibilities and dilemmas in puerile ways. In "Profanity Issue S.", for example, a recent Ph D. graduate pickets his son's school when his son is reprimanded for swearing. In the title story, "A Sharp Tooth in the Fur", a bright undergraduate student redefines a relationship with an ex-girlfriend by buying her sexy clothes only to return them later to pick up salesgirls. In "Kermit is Smut", a kindergarten teacher imagines the former lives of his students while mitigating the pain of his divorce by smoking pot and cranking up the heat. An adolescent boy scratches words in his reptilian skin to transmit his misery in "Sitting Up" while a young undergrad negotiates tear gas and activism in "Non-Violent, Not OK". In "Enormous Sky White" we meet another young male, Grater, a tree-planter who succumbs to the raw sexuality of a fellow planter while his girlfriend who is away in France is also unfaithful to him. In "Walls not Thick Enough"-the only story featuring a female character- a Superstore cashier named Lorna develops a crush on a well-dressed customer. Lorna decides the object of her affection is a professional as "In Fredericton, only lawyers wear suits." The last two stories, "Grey Hound" and "Him Not Me", stray from Whetter's theme of broken relationships, budding sexual exploits, and feckless men, and are perhaps the least self-conscious stylistically. In these last two stories a young boy must cope with the taxing adult responsibility of being the primary caregiver of his incapacitated father.
Whetter's stories are quippy, clever and definitely capture a generation caught between adult responsibility and teenage dissoluteness. Whetter's cynical and humourous portrayal of the complexities of modern relationships is compelling though, at times, one-dimensional as upwardly mobile women-who all wear dry-clean only' suits-leave their men in three out of three of the break-up stories. There are also stories in which Whetter's cleverness simply overwhelms the reader. Many of the stories begin in the middle: they plunge the reader into an oddly described scene and then retrace the narrative. While this can be an interesting technique, coupled with Whetter's shorthand style and snappy dialogue, it renders some of the stories somewhat cryptic. Also, occasionally Whetter's dialogue seems contrived.
There is no doubt that Whetter is an excellent writer, skilled at capturing minutia and investing it with meaning. He writes about arduous physical suffering and the to and fro of sexual ecstasy in an electric way, but it would be interesting to see Whetter do away with some of the irony, self-consciousness and cleverness, in order to bring out more effectively the rawness of his subjects and themes.

Home First Novel Award Past Winners Subscription Back Issues Timescroll Advertizing Rates
Amazon.ca/Books in Canada Bestsellers List Books in Issue Books in Department About Us