David Helwig: recently published

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Smuggling Donkeys Porcupine's Quill
Smuggling Donkeys cover

"Smuggling Donkeys lacks nothing in largeness of thought or spirit. Helwig's sense of life's unpredictability/possibility grows more acute with each new book, and perhaps his novellas demonstrate this best. They are finely tuned explorations of flawed but redeemable human existence, intense and tender, buoyed by gentle humour and hope." -- Canadian Notes and Queries
"I enjoyed this book . . . With David Helwig I felt I was in good hands; he knows what he is doing. He controls the language of his characters without faltering, turning out a masterful monologue. His insights are sharp, characterization exact, and he is also very funny." -- The Indextrious Reader
"He's never more entertaining than he is in the novella form, and his three recent ones -- The Stand-In (2002), Duet (2004) and now Smuggling Donkeys -- are as funny and absorbing as anything you'll find in Canadian literature today." -- Prairie Fire Review of Books
" . . . impeccable comic timing . . . " -- Quill and Quire

Coming Through Bunim & Bannington
Coming Through

On sale only in USA

"Three novellas from a Canadian master" -- Los Angeles Times

"Veteran Canadian writer David Helwig . . . is a formidable talent . . . a pleasure to spend time with." -- Publishers Weekly

Saltsea Biblioasis
Saltsea cover

"As a reader you feel as if you've gone to this quaint place for a vacation and met all these intriguing people . . . Helwig's considerable accomplishment is that he makes you care about all of them. Since he gives you lots to laugh about as well as some insight into the past and some mystery, you come away from Saltsea feeling that it was the best damn vacation you've had in a long time . . . a novel that may be his finest." -- Dave Williamson, The Globe and Mail
"A cast of central and peripheral characters, each one more interesting than the last . . . the novel succeeds beautifully, thanks to Helwig's poetic, dramatic and cinematic talents." -- Books in Canada
" . . . marvellously told. Helwig's talent creates each individual in this crowded cast of characters as someone with a full and present existence." -- The Indextrious Reader

The Names of Things The Porcupine's Quill
Names of Things cover

"a fine new memoir . . . a chronicle of his life in Canadian letters that spans the last half-century . . . packed with everything one wants in a memoir." The Globe and Mail
"A highly polished piece of writing in its structure and its tone . . . a fine memoir . . . a document in the history of a generation of writers." -- George Fetherling, The New Brunswick Reader
"This is a writer who has been unfailingly industrious . . . He had not only created a substantial body of work in fiction and poetry, but taught English literature . . . toiled as a freelance book reviewer, journalist, editor, anthologist . . . His account of his undergraduate days at the University of Toronto is particularly interesting." -- Philip Marchand, Toronto Star

Available from the publisher as an ebook at $4.99; click here.

duet cover

Duet, a vivid and comic account of a stubbornly unromantic romance, is the story of Carman, a retired Toronto policeman and Norma, the cantankerous proprietor of a country junk-shop. Against the grain of their bad temper they create a precarious friendship.
"Duet is almost perfect . . ." -- Quill and Quire
"There's a dry humour in this story . . . it is moving and affectionate, flawless in realism and technique" -- Edmonton Journal
" . . . skill, unadorned honesty, and a clear-eyed understanding of the human quirks that rise out of fear, need, and ambivalence" -- Books in Canada

stand-in cover

Written in 1998 after a trip to Paris and its museums, The Stand-In presents a series of three lectures given by a retired professor who is a last minute substitute for a dead man. He delights himself by teasing his audience with his knowledge and obsessions, hinting at his past, reflecting both astutely and eccentrically on various works of art. I'm not sure I've ever had so much fun writing a story.
"An oblique, eccentric and intriguing novella." -- amazon.ca
"A witty, eloquent and satirical impromptu." -- Toronto Star
"A comic gem." -- Douglas Glover

The Year One Gaspereau Press
year one cover

Winner of the Atlantic Poetry Prize for 2004

A long poem written over the year 2001, giving an account of the gradual changes of season, the thoughts and memories that came to mind as I observed them. Published in 2004, it catches at memories from my earliest days while also being a poem of reflection and a tribute to my friends. Each day of the year offered its own discoveries, the usual cycle of the seasons alongside the unique events of those particular hours.
"His gifts are, indeed, the sharp eye and quick ear that never tire the reader, despite the distance travelled . . . This is the assured accent of a poet maturely at ease in his voice and its scope . . . The Year One fluently and evocatively lights the way to live more keenly in the moment." -- Michael Thorpe, The New Brunswick Reader
"this book is significant, magnificent, and beneficent . . . " -- George Elliott Clarke

Audio clip

Illustrated offprints (HTML slideshow or PDF download)

We wake to noise: View | Download

Now this other island world View | Download

The Time of Her Life Goose Lane Editions
time of her life cover

This chronicle of one woman and her time began with old stories about the rum-runners on Lake Ontario, told to me one summer afternoon as I barbecued hamburgers by the shore of Wolfe Island just opposite Kingston, Ontario. The book was composed with a deliberately elliptical rhythm that suggests questions about the shape of life, the shape of our stories. We only think we know what life is like.
"The Time of Her Life is a story of following possibilities, seeing how they work out, and eventually moving on, without too many regrets . . . Helwig is a splendid writer who shows us convincing scenes, an old house in the south of France or a small harbour on one of the Great Lakes. He conveys vividly the atmosphere of Paris just before, during and just after the Second World War. His characters seem real . . . He leaves out all the laborious transitions, just as a good film does. He observes rather than criticizing or explaining." -- The Charlottetown Guardian
"Helwig knows how to enchant." -- The Globe and Mail.

Living Here Oberon Press
living here cover

This collection of essays and memoirs, some of them first written for the Globe and Mail and the CBC, considers everything from the novels of Hugh Maclennan and the poetry of Al Purdy to the way styles of food have changed, how we hear and see, the nature and significance of the hidden--what interested me. The last one is my account of my own country neighbourhood on Prince Edward Island.
"Every good essayist knows that that a profound question is far more important than a satisfactory answer. Living Here poses some pretty good ones." Toronto Star