The Black Queen Stories


165 pages
ISBN 0-919630-24-3




Reviewed by Les Harding

Les Harding is author of The Voyages of Lesser Men: Thumbnail Sketches
in Canadian Exploration.


We have here 14 stories about people in Toronto, but the fact that they live in Toronto is irrelevant. The characters peopling these pages can and do live in the decaying corners of all big cities. The stories are about those lonely people who shuffle through their lives desperate for genuine love and communication. All too often they make do with a mirthless, empty sex.

Mr. Callaghan is undoubtedly one of Canada’s finest writers of short fiction. His writing conveys a great sense of emotional power coupled with stark description, wisdom, and a truly remarkable ear for street talk. Even when funny (and sometimes they are hilarious), the stories are subtly imbued with a nameless sense of loss and emptiness. The emotion is tender but never sentimental. One of the stories is called “All The Lonely People”; perhaps that would have been a more apt title for the book.

The Black Queen Stories is a good read but not for those who want stories of action and escape.


Callaghan, Barry, “The Black Queen Stories,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 19, 2024,