Coming to Grips with Lucy


140 pages
ISBN 0-88750-417-5





Reviewed by William Blackburn

William Blackburn is a professor of English at the University of


Readers familiar with George McWhirter’s earlier work (Bodyworks, 1974; God’s Eye, 1981) will not be surprised that the ten stories in Coming to Grips with Lucy go together as well as they do. Though varied in locale (Ireland, Canada, Spain) and subject, they are bound together by tone and theme. Underlying their frequent humour is a persistent and exquisitely modulated melancholy. As the title suggests, all these stories are about coming to grips — with love and pain, with betrayal and loss, with the freedom we both crave and fear. In the hands of a less competent writer, these stories might easily have been spoiled by sentimentality or a facile impressionism. Happily, as befits a poet, Mr. McWhirter writes a prose both deft and delicate, rich with nuance and subtle allusion. He has no need to strive for what Hemingway once dismissed as “the WOW” at the end of a story; and his fiction is accordingly free of the self-conscious cleverness which afflicts so much contemporary prose. Perhaps these stories will not please everyone, but the reader with a taste for understatement and a feeling for the bittersweet quality of life will find much to savour in Coming to Grips with Lucy.


McWhirter, George, “Coming to Grips with Lucy,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 17, 2024,