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Aquarium by Mike Barnes  

Barnes’s newest collection of short stories is lively, sharp and curious, spanning the continent and delving into the flaws and foibles of a vast array of characters. ‘Mike Barnes brings to Aquarium a deceptively relaxed precision and a grown-up acceptance of puzzlement as a natural state of mind.’

Movement is the key to this collection. The settings for the stories in Aquarium range from metropolis to hamlet, from a Florida retirement community to a northern Ontario reserve on the brink of freeze-up. The people in Aquarium are as varied as its locales; the characters are landlords, actors, drinkers, painters, teachers, doctors, steelworkers, fishermen, students, shopkeepers, weathermen, clerks and security guards. Couples are a recurrent theme: the dreams and devices by which lovers join or drift apart.


2000—Danuta Gleed Award,

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‘Mike Barnes brings to Aquarium a deceptively relaxed precision and a grown-up acceptance of puzzlement as a natural state of mind.’

—Bonnie Burnard, citation for Danuta Gleed Literary Award

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‘... fiercely alive, marked by a sharp, unerring eye for detail and a wonderful way with metaphors.’

—Toronto Star, Best of ’99

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‘Barnes chooses his narrative turns with delicacy, avoiding high drama and epiphanies in favour of keen, incremental observation of his characters.’

—Globe & Mail


Mike Barnes is the author of the novels Catalogue Raisonné and The Syllabus, the short fiction collections Aquarium -- winner of the 1999 Danuta Gleed Award -- and Contrary Angel, and two poetry collections, Calm Jazz Sea, shortlisted for the Gerald Lampert Memorial award, and a thaw foretold. His stories have appeared twice in Best Canadian Stories, three times in The Journey Prize Anthology, and won the Silver Medal for Fiction at the National Magazine Awards. He was the subject of a feature issue of The New Quarterly (Summer 2001) which included an interview and three new stories. In 2008 he released his first non-fiction title, The Lily Pond: A Memoir of Madness, Memory, Myth and Metamorphosis. Formerly a piano teacher, fishing guide, janitor, steelworker, dishwasher, clock salesman, security guard, English teacher, in recent years he has been working as a private tutor. He lives in Toronto.

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

FICTION / Literary

ISBN-13: 9780889842090

Publication Date: 1999-10-15

Dimensions: 8.75 in x 5.56 in

Pages: 152

Price: $15.95