From word one, a description of a bloody and harrowing car accident, there is such a volume of tragedy in Chad Pelley's ambitious debut novel, it feels dense and weighty, like a Paul Haggis movie script. Owen Collins is a writer, who goes to live with his brother Alex's family, eventually having an affair with Hannah, Alex's wife. The brothers are more connected by ghosts of family tragedy than any sense of the other's needs. Long passages from Hannah's diary, read posthumously by Owen, distract, as does a surprising twist at the end. But where the novel succeeds is in expressing Owen's interior pain, his wine-sopping self-destruction---not an easy feat. Pelley is a gifted writer---who, no doubt, we will hear a lot from in the future---he just needs to follow his intuition. The St. John's author reads at the Literary Luncheon Series on January 21 at the Halifax Club (1682 Hollis Street).