The People One Knows: Toronto Stories


156 pages
ISBN 1-55128-011-6
DDC C813'.54





Reviewed by Hugh Oliver

Hugh Oliver is editor-in-chief at the OISE Press.


The 10 stories in this collection are linked (with one exception) by the
presence of the first-person narrator (an alter ego, one suspects, of
the author). Most of the people he knows are, like the narrator, in
their late 20s or early 30s, although sometimes the narrator reminisces
about his earlier (and predominantly alcoholic) years. Like him, most of
them are struggling writers, artists, and musicians who frequent the
bars, cafés, and clubs of Toronto’s Queen Street West, College
Street, Spadina Avenue, and Bathurst Street. They are mostly neurotic
and sexually promiscuous.

Jones’s style (seemingly influenced by Hemingway—as is the title)
is based on a progression of short, flat sentences and descriptive
statements, conveying a mood that is reminiscent more of the prairies
than of Toronto, but without the poetic redemption of the occasional
spectacular sunset. At the same time, he writes rather powerful

stories, has an observant memory for detail (sometimes to the point of
tedium), and exhibits an unusual insight into the vulnerability of human
nature. I shall be surprised if he doesn’t win a Toronto Book Award.


Jones, Daniel C., “The People One Knows: Toronto Stories,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 14, 2024,