Blue Husbands by Don Dickinson  

Dickinson’s first book, Fighting the Upstream, was described in The Globe & Mail as ‘truly memorable fiction’. With Blue Husbands, Dickinson returns with stories wilder and even funnier.

Although there is always an underlying melancholy in his writing which gives depth and bite to his humour, nearly all these stories resolve themselves into celebration. Sad, seedy, mad or battered as some of his characters are, Dickinson invests them all with dignity.

These well-crafted stories range in subject from a jilted husband’s attempt to win his family back by breaking the world push-up record to the cause-and-effect relationship between one man’s attempted suicide and the disabling of his rescuer’s son. The title story details a system of colour-coding husbands; earthtone for the ones who ‘never talk or if they do it’s about crabgrass or the weather’; red for ‘the guys who are always maddern’ hell and want to hit people’; black husbands, ‘the guys with hearts the colour of soot’; and green for ‘the ones who just want to grow’. In ‘Blue Husbands’ Dickinson shows one man’s transformation from a blue husband to a man who won’t be confined by his father’s paintbox reduction of marriage. Like ‘Blue Husbands’, many of these stories explore the hazards of marriage and Dickinson, avoiding the pitfall of sentimentality, powerfully and persuasively celebrates our desire for love.


1991—Governor General's Award,


1992—Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize,

Review quote

‘There’s a lot of wonderful moping being done in Don Dickinson’s début, Blue Husbands. All but two of the collection’s nine stories concern lonely men groping about for lost and distanced loves. Stunned by senseless deaths and divorces, Dickinson’s husbands grieve in a strange and endearing assortment of forms: one swallows a chain, another talks to a crab, another attempts 300,000 push-ups on the front lawn of his ex-wife. What makes these stories brilliant -- and they are -- is that Dickinson crafts such daring, funny tales out of the tortured, melancholy lives of solitary men.’

—Quill & Quire


Don Dickinson was born in 1947 in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. He has worked at jobs as varied as labourer, fitness instructor, and shepherd, and now teaches high school in Lillooet, British Columbia.

Blue Husbands won a 1991 B.C. Book Prize. It was also nominated for a Governor General’s Award.

The Porcupine's Quill would like to acknowledge the support of the Ontario Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts for our publishing program. The financial support of the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund (CBF) is also gratefully acknowledged.

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FICTION / Short Stories

ISBN-13: 9780889841239

Publication Date: 1991-03-15

Dimensions: 8.75 in x 5.56 in

Pages: 128

Price: $10.95