Losing It


367 pages
ISBN 0-7710-2487-8
DDC C813'.54





Reviewed by Debbie Fyfe

Debbie Fyfe is the reference/Internet resources librarian in the
Information Services Division of the Edmonton Public Library.


Ottawa-based writer Alan Cumyn is the award-winning author of Man of
Bone and a Giller Prize finalist for Burridge Unbound. His third book is
a darkly comic tale of a seemingly calm domestic life that hurtles out
of control.

Ottawa resident Bob Sterling is a middle-aged professor who has carved
out a niche studying the life and writings of Edgar Allen Poe. His
significantly younger second wife, Julia (a former student and the
mother of his toddler son), is dealing with her mother’s failing
health due to Alzheimer’s. Bob’s comfortable existence is shattered
with the discovery that he has been harboring a long-repressed sexual
fetish, recently awakened by a beautiful and talented, yet troubled,
21-year-old student named Sienna Chu.

No longer able to control his erotic urges, Bob travels to New York
with Sienna to attend a conference on Poe. While Julia struggles to cope
with her breast-feeding infant and her mother’s illness, Bob escapes
into his secret world of fantasy and fetishism. What follows is a comedy
of errors—a series of absurdly funny misadventures that threaten to
destroy not only Bob’s life and career, but the lives of those around

From an elderly woman ravaged by Alzheimer’s to a young mother trying
to cope with her loss of self, Cumyn transports us into the minds of his
characters and makes us empathize with their personal struggles and
inner vulnerabilities. We may not understand what motivates Bob, but we
cannot help feeling sorry for him. This original novel is highly
recommended for mature readers.


Cumyn, Alan., “Losing It,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 22, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/9244.