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Ballistics: A Novel Paperback – Mar 4 2014

4.5 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Canada (March 4 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143180096
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143180098
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 3.6 x 21.2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 422 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #528,895 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


“One of the finest novels of the year.” - Georgia Straight

“Like the Boss, Wilson takes as his subjects working men who prefer outdoor pursuits and manual labour and who tend to blow off steam by drinking beer and fighting. . . this is a man’s, man’s book.” - Globe and Mail

“With this new book, Wilson stakes his claim for the title of manliest Canadian literary-fiction author. . . Its haunted men and matter-of-fact violence may call to mind the work of such American authors as Richard Ford and Russell Banks.” - Winnipeg Free Press

“Lean Richard Ford and Raymond Carver-like prose. A tough debut.” - Sharp

Ballistics is a lean, powerful book about quiet, emotional people. It animates a world that any smalltown North American could identify in a moment, yet it transcends this environment to evoke something universal: how people live through loss, and how they talk about what matters, or don't.” - The Guardian

About the Author

D.W. Wilson was born and raised in the small towns of the Kootenay Valley, British Columbia. He is the recipient of the University of East Anglia's inaugural Man Booker Prize Scholarship—the most prestigious award available to students in the M.A. program. His fiction and essays have appeared in literary magazines across Canada, Ireland, and the U.K., and he is the youngest-ever winner of the BBC’s National Short Story Prize. He lives in Cambridge.

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Having read Wilson's story collection 'Once You Break A Knuckle' last year, it's fair to say 'Ballistics' was one of my most eagerly anticipated titles of 2013. So it's with some disappointment that I'm only giving it three stars. After finishing his first book I wanted to go back to Invermere and the Kootenay Valley for more and that is certainly what 'Ballistics' delivers - again it's very masculine, all about sons and fathers (and grandfathers), who wear ball caps and never a "collared shirt", shoot guns and drive trucks and know their way around a toolbox, and again it has a sentimental side to it too (these men love their dogs). Wilson's world (and his writing) is quite stylized, but with 'Ballistics' I felt like he'd gone too far - where the short stories still felt real, this feels almost like a parody, or certainly it is parody-able. And despite some great passages, Alan West never comes to life in the way Will Crease did in 'Once You Break a Knuckle' (Crease gets a brief mention in 'Ballistics' as a childhood friend of Alan). The other problem I had with 'Ballistics' is that it is told in two voices (Alan, and his grandfather Archer) and yet they sound too similar, just as Archer sounds almost identical to Alan's other grandfather, Cecil. And Alan never comes across as being in his late twenties - a few times he gets called 'kid' and he does sometimes read as a teenager rather than an adult.
I did like the book though - there's a good story at the heart of it - and I'd still pick up whatever else Wilson writes.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The story starts in a slow grind – diving into a variety of scenarios and times while getting to know the six main characters. Wilson’s unique descriptions range from funny and weird familiarity to messy and violent – every page has quotable, memorable or thought provoking bits. As a lifelong resident of the Kootenays I was intrigued and challenged to visualize the settings and relate them to my places. The story liquefied and flowed – speeding up through confrontations, betrayals and mysteries - then speeding down mountain passes toward burning forests and isolated places and people. I read the second half in one sitting! This is a special book that I will recommend, keep and re-read.
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Format: Hardcover
A completely enjoyable read! The characters come alive and the descriptions are's as if you are right there! The tension builds and you really cannot put the book down. This is a page-turner from beginning to end, and a sadness overcame me when I was finished.....because it was the end. I will be looking for more from this author.
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By Kid on May 14 2013
Format: Hardcover
Every now and then a book comes along that takes you by surprise, but this one blew me out of the water. It's an intricately woven tale of love and betrayal, loss and heartache, danger and adventure. The characters are believable and the descriptions are perfect. Sounds, shapes, and smells, are palpable. Wilson is a master at pulling the reader into the world he creates. The plot twists and turns, the tension builds, and the entire thing delivers. This is a magnificent work of art.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0xa1a4009c) out of 5 stars 8 reviews
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa1a55e88) out of 5 stars Gripping, thoughtful and insightful Aug. 27 2013
By Sid Nuncius - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I thought this was an excellent book. It's not perfect, but it has real depth, a powerful narrative drive, distinctive and evocative prose and has a lot of very insightful things to say, particularly about men and boys. Set in small-town and rural Western Canada, the story concerns Alan, a young man who was brought up there by his grandfather who has a heart attack and sends Alan on a quest to find his father. Told in two narrative voices, we hear the present-day story from Alan intercut with the story of how Alan's parents came to meet and the fallings out and feuds which led to the estrangements which drive the plot, narrated by Archer, whose place in it all becomes clear as the book progresses.

D.W. Wilson writes very evocative, quite poetic prose and generates an excellent sense of place, especially as a colossal forest fire begins to take control of events. There is fairly constant tension between characters which sometimes spills over into violence and keeps the book exciting. What makes this book special for me, though, is the characterisation and especially Wilson's deep understanding of the minds of tough, seemingly self-sufficient men and the way they relate to (and fail to relate to) one another and to women. There are scenes of great tenderness and of crackling tension, and I was gripped pretty well all the way through.

I have seen the words macho and even super-macho used to describe this book, but this is no Hemingway-like celebration of macho manhood. It is a tragic, regretful, almost compassionate portrait of how such men can damage their own and others' lives and how festering enmity can eventually lead to isolation, loneliness and destruction. I found it remarkably insightful and honest, and often very, very sad.

The book isn't perfect. It gets a bit rambling at times and could do with a little cutting in places, I thought, and it's not always easy to tell whose voice we're hearing which can be a distraction when the narration switches, but I still thought it worthy of five stars. Something this well-written and this insightful doesn't come along often, and I would recommend this very warmly to anyone looking for a thoughtful and haunting novel.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa1a55edc) out of 5 stars powerful and addictive Nov. 29 2013
By kid - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
'Oh what a tangled web we weave!'. Indeed, this book is about an intricate web of deceit and betrayal amidst a backdrop of the tough and unforgiving Canadian landscape. Alan West sets off on a journey through raging forest fires to find a father who abandoned him as a baby. He takes with him his estranged grandfather, an aged Vietnam veteran , who's early life actions set in motion a series of events that forever changed the lives of two families. Ballistics is a book you will read more than once. The first time you read it , you will finish it very quickly, because you won't be able not to. The second time you read it, you will read it very slowly, to savor it. The drama and suspense, and the landscape and the characters will stay with you long after you've closed the book.
HASH(0xa1a571d4) out of 5 stars Family Dysfunction? July 15 2015
By wally 43 - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Alan, the central character in this story, set in Western Canada, is part of highly dysfunctional family and raised by his maternal "Gramps". The reasons for the alienation of family members and relationships unfold and progress. Characters as they emerge are troubled, aggressive and often unstable, largely remain enigmas throughout. The narrative slips frequently back and forth between characters and time zones which some may find aggravating.
HASH(0xa1a570cc) out of 5 stars Writing is just good enough to keep you reading May 30 2015
By Vampire - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Story wanders and goes nowhere. Writing is just good enough to keep you reading, but the story is just about "feelings" and a whole bunch of stuff that is only interesting to people who have no real lives. Urban people and intellectuals will love this. For me it was a good book to read before bed, as I could easily put it down and go to sleep.
HASH(0xa1a572b8) out of 5 stars Men and Guns April 23 2014
By Fiona - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition
Set in semi rural Canada. Man goes in search of his father and finds out a lot about his family's past. Two stories going on.

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