First Fiction Fridays: Nobodies

Asking that perennial question of what it means to be a nobody, Chris Gilmour’s debut collection of stories Nobodies (Now or Never) is a darkly funny look into the collective contemporary anxiety of mattering and connecting to those around us. 


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What:Nobodies (Now or Never, 2016)Who: Chris Gilmore is a writer for the Toronto-based Puritan Literary Magazine. He has published stories, essays, and reviews in several periodicals, including The New Quarterly, and The Matrix. He has a Master’s in English Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Toronto, and has recently been nominated for the Journey Prize.Why you need to read this now:We dream, we struggle, we try, we fail, and we fall. Some people get back up and others stay down. As we live our lives, we feel like Atlas at times; the weight of the heavens is on our shoulders, and we have nowhere to go but down. Nobodies explores what it means to carry that weight, fall, and get back up again.While at first glance Nobodies appears to be a disjointed collection of individual stories, a broader look reveals a carefully woven tapestry that champions the struggles of loneliness, insecurity, and the search for meaningful connections in an increasingly disconnected world. Bringing into focus what we all feel but try to ignore, Chris’ characters are funny, relatable and, sometimes, a little bit too real.Nobodies is a collection of seventeen stories that demonstrate the possibilities that arise from our shifting sense of what it means to be human. Focusing on the lies we each tell ourselves and others to protect our dreams and identities against the threat of being sublimated to the all-consuming wash of humanity, the book takes an off-kilter approach to exploring the workings of modern relationships and everything they entail. With stories taking place in a range of locales and featuring protagonists that run the of modern human experience, the book gives the reader the opportunity to examine the question of identity and the nature of the personae each and every one of us employ to help us get through our daily lives.What does it mean to be a nobody? How does it feel to be a somebody? And why is it so hard to be ourselves? These are the questions at the heart of Nobodies.X plus Y:Caught at critical moments of transformation, Gilmore’s characters face seemingly small but, in reality, momentous situations akin to those featured in Michael Chabon’s Werewolves in Their Youth. They find themselves caught in events that will crystallize and define their lives, similar to those in Marina Keegan’s The Opposite of Loneliness.
* * *Our thanks to Chris Needham at Now or Never for sharing the somebodies of Nobodies with us. For more great debut fiction, click here.