English-born, Toronto-raised, and Oxford-educated Camilla Gibb won heaps of praise and a Toronto Book Award for her debut novel, Mouthing the Words
, which told a harrowing yet humorous tale of an abused girl growing up. For her sophomore effort, the curiously titled The Petty Details of So-and-so's Life
, Gibb is back on familiar ground but with double the trouble. This novel follows the dysfunctional childhood and subsequently twisted adulthood of siblings Blue and Emma. When their dad gets fired from his job as an architect, he goes haywire, imagining he's an inventor, though he can't get anyone else to believe in his ideas. Eventually, he takes off, leaving the kids to fend for themselves as their to mother sinks further into alcoholism.
While Emma seeks a surrogate family, Blue goes in search of his dad--and unfortunately for Blue, he occasionally succeeds in finding him. Each encounter with his father, a nasty piece of work, pushes Blue further down the path of self-destruction. Emma, meanwhile, fares better in her struggle to overcome the burdens of her personal history. Though leavened with less of the humour of her first novel, Gibb's tracing of Blue and Emma's separate paths allows her to explore how two children can respond quite differently to the same situation, and the "petty details" of their lives are often wondrously weird. --Nigel Hunt
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
“An astonishing novel replete with the amazing possibilities of survival, reunion and letting go.” -- The Globe and Mail
“Gibb is surely one of the most talented writers around. . . . She can do funny, she can do sad, she can do sex. I suspect that there is little that this wonderful woman cannot do.” -- The Times
“Gibb has an impressive gift for tart description. . . . Her depictions are seductive: each is so sordid you can’t help but be fascinated . . . bursting with ideas and insight.” -- Vancouver Sun
“Camilla Gibb is developing a reputation for sharp, coruscating narratives of dysfunctional families. . . . [This is a] funny, twisted, heart-breaking novel.” -- The Independent
“Gibb’s literary masterpiece inspires us to reflect on our own lives.” -- Hamilton SpectatorPraise for Mouthing the Words:
“Mouthing the Words
rings with an authority rarely found in first novels. By dint of Gibb’s lush, visceral prose, Mouthing the Words
persuasively charts one woman’s journey back to wholeness.” -- The Washington Post
“Gibb’s debut novel is both gut-wrenching and gut-busting. Ridiculously good for a first novel.” -- NOW Magazine
“Gibb scales her story small, twists her sentences into prickly, unsentimental assaults and ends up with a portrait of terrible, comic humanity.” -- The New York Times