Glory

By Gillian Wigmore

Glory
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A northern gothic tale about resilience and belonging.

In a boom town dominated by a man-eating lake, Renee and Danny Chance start a new life in his grandfather’s cabin. Renee struggles to keep her head above water until she is drawn into the orbit of two beautifully notorious ... Read more


Overview

A northern gothic tale about resilience and belonging.

In a boom town dominated by a man-eating lake, Renee and Danny Chance start a new life in his grandfather’s cabin. Renee struggles to keep her head above water until she is drawn into the orbit of two beautifully notorious bar-singer cousins, and all three women are called to test the bonds of blood and loyalty. A polyphonic fable riddled with tall tales, Glory explores what it means to be a woman in north-central BC by flooding the shores of the human heart.

"Stunning, raw prose and a fierce narrative that is irresistibly readable. "The Malahat Review

"Sensitive, taut, and observant, each voice in Wigmore’s complex tapestry brings this small town brilliantly to life. "—Eden Robinson

"A great novella is a work of alchemy, and that's what we're treated to in Glory. .. The women in your life need this book, maybe almost as much as the men do.  Buy it for them. "—Book Addiction

Gillian Wigmore

Gillian Wigmore grew up in Vanderhoof, BC, and graduated
from the University of Victoria in 1999. She has been published in Geist, CV2, filling station, and the Inner Harbour Review, among others. Wigmore won the 2008 ReLit Award for her work Soft Geography and was also shortlisted for the Dorothy Livesay BC Book Prize. She lives in north central BC with her husband and two children.

Excerpt

We crossed the Lion’s Gate Bridge at daybreak, no traffic, climbing up and out of Vancouver, away from the city, the lower mainland, the only life we’d known so far. We turned a corner and headed north.

We followed the Fraser, kept it on our left flank. It was deep and heavy, flowing back toward the delta and the sea. We left the fields of Chilliwack behind us, and the rough mountains all around spat waterfalls and loomed, impossibly green. We craned our necks looking out the windows. Hope, then the Fraser Canyon, Boston Bar, China Bar, the subterranean seconds when the road was enclosed in concrete tunnels—we hurtled through the sides of mountains.

I sped on the flats, then we watched the traffic flow around us, the Toyota lagging on the long, winding uphills. I thought of our stuff in storage back in the city—how I’d have to hire a U-Haul and do the whole trip again sometime, but I couldn’t really imagine a time beyond the interior of the car, the music, Renee humming along when she wasn’t crying, the baby jabbering or laughing in the back. I cut the corners on the curves when no one was coming. The Fraser flowed fast and messy below. We stopped at the Devil’s Kitchen and watched the rapids.

Renee fell asleep once we left the wet coast behind and the scenery turned dry and the hillside silvered with sage. I snuck glances at her as I drove as fast as I could to make it true that we were leaving. I rolled down the window a crack so I could feel it was real.

We passed Spuzzum, Lytton, Boston Bar, the river pacing us below. Shuttered fruit stands on one side and crumbling cliffs on the other. I marked off time against the power poles, drank water from a bottle nestled between my legs. She woke up outside Cache Creek and we ate takeout hamburgers near the Bonaparte River, me leaning on the car, her sitting sidesaddle in the driver’s seat. She nursed Thomas as she ate. I told a stupid joke and she laughed at me. I wanted to catch her smile and keep it.

We barrelled through the Interior Plains. She took photos from the car window of black-crusted rocks, red bluffs, and ignored me. The wind got cold and I shut the window. She piled our coats in her lap and watched the sky: raptors on the updrafts, cumulonimbus piling up in the east. We’d been driving for six hours when we hit 100 Mile House.

“A hundred miles from where?” She had her sunglasses on. I couldn’t see if she was joking. The largest cross-country skis in the world, a bird sanctuary, a Tim Horton’s, and the highway. We were out the other side and halfway to Williams Lake before we realized it.

I stopped at a pullout near Quesnel for a break. Semi trucks and a camper van with a German flag sticker shared the parking space. I got out to read the Moment in History sign that described the wagon trains and the men who’d defied death on their way to the goldfields. I sat on a cement berm and tried to picture the wagons and donkeys, the men creeping along a dirt road cut into a cliffside, rapids below them, all for the promise of gold.

I looked over at Renee’s hair pressed up against the passenger window. The couple in the camper van clambered over their seats into the depths behind them. A trucker lit a smoke and sauntered over.

“Where ya headed?”

“North. ”

He smoked for a second. “North where? There’s a lot of it up there. ”

“Fort St. James. ”

He shook his head. “Now why in hell would you go there? Family?”

“Sort of. ” I shrugged.

He coughed. Spat. Took another drag on his cigarette. “Don’t envy you. That place is the goddamn back of beyond. ” He stooped to peer into the car at Renee sleeping with her mouth open. “That yer wife and kid?”

I nodded. It was a still-new truth. He ground out his cigarette, hiked his pants up, waved at me, and lumbered off.

I watched the clouds swallow the sun before it could set behind the hills. There was nothing on the coast for us. I would make us a home in Fort St. James. My granddad’s cabin and the bay on the lake waited for us. I had a job at the mill. I looked at Renee again and felt that zing of hope in my stomach. We were starting something, going north. I felt crazy and hopeful, both.

Renee and the baby slept as I drove. The light disappeared and night came up. I played the Be Good Tanyas quiet on the stereo and watched the eyes of deer in the ditch catch the light of our headlights—quick flares in the dark. When Renee woke up, I pulled over and she took the wheel.

Awards

  • County Reads (Prince Edward County, ON) 2018, Winner

Reviews

“It is no surprise that poet Wigmore’s writing can be vivid and she creates a sequence of fine prose poems in the chorus of voices that punctuate the novel. ”Canadian Literature

"Stunning, raw prose and a fierce narrative that is irresistibly readable. "The Malahat Review

"Wigmore has accomplished something energizing in this novel: she has imbued enduring CanLit themes and points of reference with new life, within the context of a story that mines the psyches of modern women and places them against a rugged, storm-tossed backdrop. "Quill & Quire

"A great novella is a work of alchemy, and that's what we're treated to in Glory. .. The women in your life need this book, maybe almost as much as the men do.  Buy it for them. "—Book Addiction

"When faced with a choice between a life as a mother, where all the tomorrows look just like yesterday, Renee chooses her new friend Glory, plunging the reader into a twisting journey of love and survival. Sensitive, taut, and observant, each voice in Wigmore’s complex tapestry brings this small town brilliantly to life. "—Eden Robinson, author of The Trickster Trilogy

“You don’t need to know Sheila Watson’s The Double Hook to admire Gillian Wigmore’s novel, Glory, but it’s fascinating to note how thoroughly and distinctively – realism embracing myth – she probes the doubleness that drives her forebear’s book. ‘You can’t catch the glory on a hook and hold onto it,’ says Watson. ‘When you fish for the glory you catch the darkness too. ’ Like the novel named for her, Glory Stuart is wracked by extremes of love and hate, bondage and freedom. She is ‘like those fingers of God you get, way out on the lake, when the cloud slits open a bit and the sun shines through,’ but she is also ‘a rock-hard, nasty piece of work, sometimes. ’ She is a force of nature in a town dwarfed by nature, perched on the edge of a man-eating lake that haunts the townsfolk ‘like a bogeyman. ’ Fort St. James, ‘at the end of the known world’ (northern British Columbia), is ‘quiet and deceiving, all its wounds bound up from sight but flowing deadly and silent from unseen sores. ’ Into this ghost-ridden community, stagnant but seething, come Danny and Renee Chance, recently wed and new parents. He has an ancestral bond with the community; she has none. Quickly, she finds herself in crisis. Should she get involved with Glory, the charismatic siren? That way lies danger, but perhaps also a better new beginning than the one she is failing — or that is failing her. As you’d expect from a poet so accomplished as Gillian Wigmore, Glory is beautifully written, but it’s not every poet who knows how to shape a compelling story. Told through several core characters supported by a chorus of community members, each with a clear and distinct voice, Glory draws heat from a dynamic, primeval wildness in both nature and humanity that can barely be grasped, as it is grasped here, by art. ”—Stan Dragland

"Gillian Wigmore’s women make hard choices, but she never shies away from the hurt, writing with a one-two punch of empathy and fierceness that lead the reader careening through a roller-coaster wilderness that is both geographic and emotional. With Glory, Wigmore has written a novel shaped by yearning: part punk rock, part old-time country ballad, it is as much a love song to the landscape of Northern British Columbia as it is to the people who live there. "—Elisabeth de Mariaffi

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