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Larry Mathews

Gull Workshop, The

Gull Workshop, The

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The Gull Workshop is a collection of stories that features a unique combination of thematic seriousness and comic style.

The characters in The Gull Workshop are often in search of something—call it authenticity, a basis for living a meaningful life, or leave it unnamed. However it’s defined, these characters are unlikely to find it. This is a book about the comically fruitless quest for meaning and authenticity; the thirteen stories are set in locations across Canada.

The prose is as witty, brilliant, and engaging as the stories are imaginative. One features a theme park with attractions based on the Book of Revelation. In another, the nineteenth-century French poet Arthur Rimbaud takes up residence on the fringes of an unnamed rural community in Canada in the early twenty-first century. Others are more rooted in realism: there’s the guy who lives in a basement and rants entertainingly about . . . pretty much everything, but especially the woman who lives upstairs, whom he hopes to save from what he calls “a life of blandness.” On every page there’s something to smile at, as the world of The Gull Workshop brims over with weird characters and comic situations, from the man who was once the apprentice of a world-famous taxidermist to the protagonist who’s deeply concerned about a brick on his patio that mysteriously changes position overnight.

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Breakwater Books


Larry Mathews was born in Montreal, grew up in Ottawa, and was educated at Carleton University (BA and MA) and the University of British Columbia (PhD). He taught at six Canadian universities before joining Memorial University’s English Department, where he taught until his retirement in 2015. In 1985 he taught the first creative writing course ever offered at Memorial, and he was the first co-ordinator of the creative writing program. His writing students include such now-published authors as Lisa Moore, Michael Winter, Claire Wilkshire, Aimee Wall, and Bridget Canning. His own academic specialization, originally William Blake, was contemporary Canadian and Newfoundland literature. He has published many articles on such writers as Alice Munro, David Adams Richards, Hugh Hood, Mavis Gallant, Norman Levine, and Keath Fraser. He has published about thirty stories in journals and anthologies, a collection of stories The Sandblasting Hall of Fame (Oberon, 2003), and two novels with Breakwater: The Artificial Newfoundlander (2010) and An Exile’s Perfect Letter (2018). He lives and writes in St. John’s with his wife, Claire Wilkshire.

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