Book Quote:

“. . . in that moment I feel that everyone in the world is inside and I am out alone; that everyone is warm and safe, that circle of love is closed and everyone else inside and me out in the dark. That’s what I feel.”

Book Review:

Review by Bonnie Brody (OCT 2, 2009)

I first fell under Kevin Canty’s spell after reading Winslow in Love. Since then, I’ve read everything he writes.

His newest book, Where the Money Went, is a collection of nine short stories. Almost all of them are about damaged people, the precariousness of life and happiness, what it feels like to be dispossessed, lonely or disenfranchised, and the role that alcohol plays in people’s lives.

My favorite story in the collection, by far, is “No Place in This World for You.”  It is about a couple that has a little boy who bites. The boy bites rarely, but for reasons. As the story opens he has just been expelled from his day care program for biting. Neither parent can get a handle on their son or his biting. Mom is more interested in keeping in shape and exercising, not wanting to spend time with her son. Dad is a realtor who takes his son with him when he goes to show houses, setting him up with his own videos in a back room.

The collection starts off with “Where the Money Went,” a very short story about the dissolution of a marriage. The husband is looking back at his marriage with anger and wondering where all the money went.  “The Emperor of Ice Cream” is about two brothers who see each other for the first time following a terrible car accident that occurred about two months previously. One of the brothers was driving and escaped the accident uninjured. The other brother has been injured terribly and has spent the time since the accident in a nursing home.

In “In the Burn,” a young boy finds a dog in a burnt forest where his mother’s boyfriend works. His mother and her boyfriend are splitting up and the young boy feels lost and alone.  “They were Expendable” is a powerful story about a man who has been grieving the death of his love for the last year. He gradually tries to enter the world of the living and connect with others. Themes of the other stories encompass loneliness, alienation, secrets in marriage and lost people. In “The Boreal Forest,” Canty uses secrets in a marriage as a metaphor for the unknown and frightening occurrences in the natural world.

Canty’s stories are often metaphorical or allegorical, laying out situations that appear simple at first but are frequently deeper and more complex than what they first appear to be. I especially appreciate the way that Canty creates situations primarily through dialogue and almost always from the male point of view. His stories are not happy ones, nor are they light. However, they are filled with the stuff of life, often the unhappy stuff. Despite unhappiness and challenges, the human spirit usually prevails.

AMAZON READER RATING: stars-3-5from 3 readers
PUBLISHER: Nan A. Talese (July 14, 2009)
REVIEWER: Bonnie Brody
AMAZON PAGE: Where the Money Went
AUTHOR WEBSITE: Wikipedia page on Kevin Canty
EXTRAS: Reading Guide and Excerpt
MORE ON MOSTLYFICTION: Read our review of:


More short stories:

The Heyday of the Insensitive Bastards by Robert Boswell

The Red Convertible by Louise Erdrich

Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It by Maile Meloy

The Species Crown by Curtis Smith

Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman by Haruki Murakami


October 2, 2009 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags:  · Posted in: Allegory/Fable, Contemporary, Reading Guide, Short Stories

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