Excerpt


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Praise for A Day Does Not Go By

A Day Does Not Go By features stories that transform ordinary, quotidian life into something uncanny, mysterious, and moving. This is a promising debut by a writer to watch.
—Guy Vanderhaeghe

Sean Johnston's words are deceptive, moving two different speeds at once. The voice in your ear seems laconic and lowgear, but possesses a seething momentum — look up and you've traveled light years. Perception and venom and compassion and mood swings — clearly Mr. Johnston has bitten the head off a few weasels in his day.
—Mark Anthony Jarman, author of 19 Knives and Ireland's Eye

Clean, quick and refreshingly free of the pseudo-philosophical cant that clogs the arteries and ultimately does in so much supposed serious Canadian literature, the stories in A Day Does Not Go By are best at what they aren't: pretentious, over-written or boring.
—Ray Robertson, Toronto Star, November 10, 2002

In A Day Does Not Go By, Sean Johnston arranges his themes — the fear of betrayal, the fragility of love, the haplessness of old age, the inadequacy of language — into 27 short vignettes … The best stories in A Day Does Not Go By are deceptively complex. Johnston uses a minimalist prose style to depict sometimes-unremarkable happenings that are then transformed into resonant meanings. Shards of intimacy, despair, compassion, and brutality emerge via this uncanny banality.
—Karen Luscombe, Quill & Quire

In his debut collection, A Day Does Not Go By, Sean Johnston at first glance deploys the kind of affectless and apparently artless prose made famous by Raymond Carver (in a direct line of descent from Ernest Hemingway) and badly imitated ever since … Johnston's writing, by contrast, manages to suggest that invisible deeper knowledge and thus draw us into the [existences] of ordinary people who live often marginal, struggling lives … Johnston's characters are able to locate their feelings in a way that's beyond the numbness of Carver's … A Day Does Not Go By won the David Adams Richards Award for Fiction last year and [won the ReLit Award for Short Fiction] — a sign that Johnston's quiet prose is getting deserved notice.
—Patricia Robertson, Books in Canada

Where many short story collections suggest a scraping together of mismatched bits and pieces, Sean Johnston's collection (winner of New Brunswick's David Adams Richard Award for emerging fiction) has the rare virtue of uniformity in style and theme. In this, it resembles such early classics as Joyce's The Dubliners, and Hemingway's In Our Time.
—Joan Givner, The Malahat Review

Sean Johnston has an original approach to the short story genre … Literature, like all other creative endeavours, evolves and grows and (one hopes) progresses, and the short story has come a long way from the days of de Maupassant and Somerset Maugham, whose stories, whether comic or tragic, were like polished mirrors held up to life. In Johnston's stories, the mirror has shattered, and you pick up the fragments carefully, at risk of cutting yourself in the process.
—David Rozniatowski, Prairie Fire

It's as if Johnston has sat inside his characters' heads and took notes about their memories, their lusts and their random thoughts … His observations and perceptions of human relationships are brilliant and frank, and lend to the endearing quality of his stories … Bravo to Johnston for such a concise and honest portrayal of human condition, desire and reaction.
—Radha Fisher, The Nexus Camosun College Newspaper, November 12, 2002

… reminiscent of Hemingway … The characters in these stories are often bewildered by circumstance and try to grasp onto such concepts as duty and routine as one would a life preserver. I found many of the details in these stories to be heart-breaking … As in the magic realism of “We Can’t Go On Like This,” in which a baby is born out of an automatic bank teller, nothing in any of these stories is ever quite familiar, but the experience of reading them alters our perception and challenges our preconceptions. This is a talented writer.
—Richard Cumyn, judge's statement for the David Adams Richards Award