‘The Dead Roads’ by DW Wilson

I love the freewheeling energy in this story, with some of the same characters who appear in other of DW Wilson’s stories. There are clipped, pared-down sentences, characteristic of US fiction, but appropriate here as the three main characters travel long distance by car through Canada, free you think maybe for the first time in a long time. It’s quite traditional in subject matter, a couple and a male friend, Animal, and their raw emotions. But Wilson captures the landscape they travel through, which the reader senses he knows well. There’s a latent violence pulsing through which rises to a head when they meet a Native American, and when Animal is almost killed. All the way, the tension between the men, with the girl, Vic, between them is beautifully conveyed, but underplayed, so the ending is well earned, balanced and evocative. 

First published in The BBC National Short Story Award 2011, Comma Press. Collected in Once You Break A Knuckle, Bloomsbury, 2012

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