Getting Lucky


226 pages
ISBN 0-676-97246-2
DDC C813'.54





Reviewed by Sarah Robertson

Sarah Robertson is the editor of the Canadian Book Review Annual.


Getting Lucky is Matt Cohen’s first collection of short stories in
over a decade. The 10 stories, with settings ranging from Toronto and
Montreal to Guatemala and Paris, are trenchant, rueful, darkly humorous,
and moving but never sentimental.

The protagonists are for the most part emotionally isolated and
existentially insecure men who are haunted by the passage of time and
bemused by the disconnect between their younger and older selves. “The
secret of the evil empire is time,” a son declares as he prepares to
scatter his father’s ashes in “The Anatomy of Insects.” The
faintly pompous solemnity of the occasion is, in typical Cohen fashion,
deflated when the cork refuses to budge from the vase containing the

Among the collection’s most powerful stories is “Edward/Eduardo,”
which centres on the adoption of a Guatemalan baby and the unsettling
aftermath of that adoption. At the opposite end of the tonal spectrum is
“Literary Synapses.” Narrated by Stephen Leacock’s “private
secretary,” this tale features such whimsicalities as a séance in
which the (unexpectedly jolly) spirit of Virginia Woolf is conjured up.

Spare but evocative prose is a trademark of this fine
collection—sadly, Cohen’s last.


Cohen, Matt., “Getting Lucky,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 17, 2024,