McClelland and Stewart
At 28, Craig Boyko's stories have been nominated for the Journey Prize several times and published, it seems, in every Canadian literary magazine. Blackouts, his first book, is a collection of short fiction. It travels from Stalinist Russia to WWII-era London to banal, contemporary Canadian suburbs. Boyko is a skilled, articulate writer, but his voice wavers throughout Blackouts---there's little linking many of the stories. In a way, Boyko's writing already feels like a CanLit mainstay; on the other hand, this is peculiar coming from a new, young author. Stories set in the present day and place feel the most honest. A man sees no way out of his life and looks for help through a peculiar program he finds in the phone book in "Assistance." "The Mean" is a stream-of-consciousness from the point of view of a bored preteen on summer vacation; in "Holes," a man becomes live-in housekeeper to a friend from university and his family---however, the relationship grows increasingly strained. There's a definite university-educated feel to his prose. "Was the man proletarian or bourgeois? he wondered," Boyko writes of one uppity upper-class protagonist. His stories are bittersweet and clever, though, if a little overly mature beyond his years.