Episodes in the life of a lifelong con artist, this is The Catcher in the Rye as told by a teenage thief. A teenage thief from Nipigon, Ontario, who comes of age witnessing death in a small town; who puts his high school bully in a wheelchair; who drinks away his youth; who lies, cheats, and steals his way out of poverty, scamming his way to the bottom rung of the Canadian contemporary art market in the 1990s.
But the education of a petty criminal has left a few gaps in his memory…behind every funny story, there are dark secrets…as Emmett Grogan unearths the pivotal moment of his childhood while helping a high school drinking buddy dig up the release date of the first Star Wars movie at their hometown cinema, back in the 1970s.
Unflinchingly honest, by turns heartbreaking and hilarious, the full arc of a quiet, desperate life is captured here, in this nuanced, meticulously crafted novel of interlocking stories.
"Emmett Grogan writes about the gritty underside of small-town life with such realism that it feels like memoir not fiction. He knows how to write dark and beautiful sentences, and skillfully deploys humour to soften the often harsh edges of his characters' lives. Balancing the light and the dark so well is no easy achievement. With Twelve Stories, Grogan is a storyteller to watch."
Terry Fallis, two-time winner of the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour
"Emmett Grogan's Twelve Stories is by turns heart-scalding and laugh out-loud funny -- sometimes on the same page. His tales are as true to Canadian boyhood as a tree fort, as faithful to Northern Ontario as a bass strike, snowplough or bush party. An impressive debut by an author who deftly plumbs the wide-open spaces and straitened economic prospects of hinterland life, and the human genius for enjoying the former and defying the latter."
Jim Coyle, retired former Toronto Star journalist and four-time National Newspaper Award nominee