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The Skeleton Dance Paperback – Dec 11 2009

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Product details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Anvil Press (Jan. 1 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 189753504X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1897535042
  • Product Dimensions: 14.6 x 1.1 x 20.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 240 g
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Product description

Quill & Quire

For Robert Walker, the tormented mid-thirties anti-hero of Philip Quinn’s second novel, there’s “Always something breached, open, some wound, hole....  Some box you’re trying to get out of, or into.” Ruptures and imprisonments figure prominently in the novel, a hallucinatory horror story that mercilessly traces its protagonist’s relentless downward spiral.

At the novel’s outset, Robert – a washout musician who now slings advertising copy from the 21st floor of a downtown Toronto office tower – is mourning the recent death of a close friend. Faithless and hopeless, he turns to his longtime pal, Klin Abrams, for distraction. The friendship, however, is jagged. Klin, an arrogant criminal lawyer with a shady client roster, boasts a hefty cocaine habit, a disturbing aggressive streak, and an unscrupulous tendency toward self-preservation. It’s Klin who embroils Robert in a seedy, violent entanglement with the Diamondbacks, a notorious Toronto biker gang.

Robert is not a particularly likeable guy. Within the first few pages, he brutally manhandles a hooker until her “fake she-male padding [is] shredded.” He has an affair with Klin’s mother. And he somehow manages to remain in an unconcerned, blissed-out state during a gunfight that leaves a stripper dead. Glutted by “the clay of memory” and bent on executing his “own rush ending,” Robert routinely cokes up and fucks his way through anguish and regret, while the Diamondbacks terrorize what’s left of him. Though his ride is wildly unnerving, Robert spends much of his journey mired in resignation, self-pity, and disavowal.

The terrain of The Skeleton Dance is marked by violation and futility, which Quinn renders with finesse – from a “black hole” Parkdale crack house to a Forest Hill “situation where it’s like Fellini; crazy high-priced whores and society cunts and their admirers” to the “aching guts, the water soap lather blood” of the Don Jail.

But what’s most interesting about the novel is its examination of masculinity and sexuality – in particular, Robert’s ambivalence about desire, his convoluted “queer knot,” and the suggestive fissures through which he and Klin interact. At its heart, The Skeleton Dance is a love story, but one from which “beauty’s long gone.”

About the Author

Philip Quinn lives in Toronto. His poetry has appeared in Inkstone, Rampike, sub-Terrain, Cabaret Vert, Snow Monkey and Anemone Sidecar. His short fiction has appeared in Quarry, blood + aphorisms, Front & Centre, Canadian Fiction magazine, Kiss Machine, Broken Pencil and Lichen journal. In 2000, a collection of short fiction entitled Dis Location, Stories After the Flood was published by Gutter Press. The Double, a novel, was published by Gutter in 2003. Quinns journalism has appeared in the Ottawa Citizen, National Post and the Toronto Star. The SubWay is his first collection of poetry.

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