Fidelity, 2003

“By turns brooding, strange, and funny, Fidelity probes the blandishments of temptation, the swooning submission to concupiscence, the illusory redemption of desire, the ambivalence at the heart of the most intimate trust, and, most importantly, the irony that when we betray, we betray ourselves first.

Redhill’s characters are not monsters, or really even sinners. Their vulnerabilities are our own: a business-trip affair leaves a man changed in ways he cannot anticipate; a young girl’s sexuality inflicts unexpected wounds on her family; the young amanuensis of a 156-year-old Civil War veteran tries to defend his hero from accusations of desertion; a father of four, pressured by his wife to undergo a vasectomy, gradually learns that he is capable of infidelity when he contemplates the intolerable loss of his virility.” — publisher’s bumpf

 These are wonderful stories, polished, mature, fresh. Redhill slips convincingly into many personae a devout, middle-aged Jewish man pondering vasectomy, a young female academic fighting off a panic attack. His characters rarely feel autobiographical, except perhaps for the poet in “Human Elements,” whose depression lifts during an encounter with a couple of frog researchers. The dialogue is deft, often funny, and keeps us listening closely.” — Quill and Quire

“Redhill’s stories are pretty disturbing, with lyrical flourishes and some penetrating insights. Of a divorced couple’s love, he writes: “It was more than a memory, but less than a presence: a tune they could still hum.” The story “Logic of Reduction” recounts a grisly barbecue with friends and is simply stomach-churning. “The Flesh Collectors” actually makes you want to cross your legs: Roth goes for a vasectomy after his third wife develops “a serious allergy to latex”. Redhill packs a hell of a punch. As someone once remarked of Sonny Liston: ‘He hurts when he breathes on you.’” — The Guardian UK

“In fact there’s very little fidelity, at least as conventionally defined, depicted in this hushed but stupendously accomplished story collection, largely devoted to the family, sexual, and marital lives of very middle-class Canadians. Whether exploring a mother’s betrayal of her gifted eight-year-old son’s trust (“She longed for him to have weaknesses, to try something and fail. It was a strange way to express her love, to want him to taste the poison of disappointment”) or a traveling school photographer’s rueful reflections on his relationship with his former wife (“He hadn’t, until very recently, he realized, had the heart for much, and the cost of that had been another person’s happiness”) or the corrosive consequences on his psyche of a middle manager’s unrevealed adultery, Redhill’s plaintive but unsentimental tales, which combine an almost ruthless economy with a delicacy of touch, probe good but broken people plagued by the recognition of their own profound inadequacies. Although melancholic (the narrator of the last story aptly characterizes sex and love as “a gloomy business”), Redhill leavens his tales with an off-kilter if devastating humor, as in the gifted boy’s statistical assessment, complete with chart, of the relationship between his parents’ marriage and the manner of breakfast preparation.

He weighted “hot food, mother eats with us” (the most desirable condition) four times more than “cold food, mother in bed” (the least desirable) and calculated the Marriage Correlative as the weekly mean given those weights. And if the monthly average of the MC fell below 4, he considered the safety of his family life at risk.

He could see from this that things were falling apart.

Ambiguous, undramatic, attentive to detail (the bantering sarcasm that settles on a divorced couple’s conversation; an office manager’s meddlesome tone), these stories will inevitably be described as “quiet.” But make no mistake: every one will leave the reader shaken.” — The Atlantic

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