July Nights and Other Stories


154 pages
ISBN 1-55054-015-7
DDC C813'.54





Reviewed by Sarah Robertson

Sarah Robertson is an editor in the College Division of Nelson Canada.


Eight of the fourteen stories in this memorable collection have appeared
in publications ranging from Seventeen to The Macmillan Anthology. With
conviction and a refusal to compromise, the author inhabits an
impressive range of characters, from schoolgirls preoccupied with the
onset of menses in the slight but amusing “Blood,” to Mexican
refugees fleeing for their lives in the harrowing “Cimarrуn.”
Despite this diversity, each story shares a common foundation: the
family—an institution Hamilton extends well beyond traditional
definitions. “We were not Cleaver children,” confides the narrator
of “Tulips,” and neither is there a remotely Cleaveresque family in
Hamilton’s dysfunctional universe of drug addiction, wife battering,
insanity, marital betrayal, and child abuse.

Hamilton’s poetic credentials—she’s published one book of
poems—are evident in her discerning use of language; the sheer economy
of her prose, together with its energy and restrained lyricism, keeps
these stories from wallowing in their tragic themes. The use of
symbolism is occasionally heavy-handed (notably so in “The Arrival of
Horses”), but the author’s considerable talents are more than enough
to drown out the occasional false note. Hers is a name to watch.


Hamilton, J.A., “July Nights and Other Stories,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 17, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/13151.