God's Bedfellows

"Before my mother met my father, she believed in salvation through Jesus Christ and he believed in oblivion through Johnnie Walker. She agreed to lay off the church if he agreed to lay off the bottle and they got married in 1944. I was the fruit of their brief armistice."

This collection of stories is about a variety of people who, for good or ill, find themselves in bed. As the tales unfold, each one of these characters meets another person who is his or her opposite; thus a series of life altering discoveries is set in motion.

God's Bedfellows cover

Critical Response

The best literature touches the vital organs as much as the mind, evoking powerful feelings that have their origins deep within the body. The finest of Carpenter's tales in his debut short-story collection, God's Bedfellows, reach those wellsprings of emotion with considerable skill. . . . As well, his stories reveal an energy and muscularity that mirror their setting in Canada's not-quite-tame West. . . . Carpenter makes his readers not only see what is happening, but feel it too: of good writing there is no more convincing truth.

- John Bemrose, Maclean's Magazine

Anyone with a taste for a good story will want to lend an ear to David Carpenter. His are funny, compassionate, quirky, and rendered in exact, elegant prose that is in itself a delight. There's plenty to admire here. David Carpenter is a very talented writer.

- Guy Vanderhaeghe

These are intriguing stories because they explore inner worlds which are not commonly visited. Sometimes funny, and sometimes sad, they expand our sympathies and make us more thoughtful and concerned than we might otherwise be.

- Alistair MacLeod

Carpenter is a writer of extraordinary power and polish. Even his minor characters are drawn to convincing life.

- Literature and Language

The stories are distinguished by Carpenter's fine ear for colloquial speech and dialogue, and by the fabulist's exuberant indulgence in richly evocative names and idioms. . . . [His] best stories achieve a well-integrated supra-realist intensity of tone akin to that of Alex Colville's paintings, tense with ironic awareness that things are either mildly or terribly amiss beneath the humourous or placid narrative surface.

- Jack Robinson, Alberta

Carpenter at his best is damn weird. Delightfully weird, of course. . . . The key element in [his] fiction is the refreshing off-balance incident sanely probed with humour, keen characterization, compassion, and sometimes more than a little despair. The nine stories in God's Bedfellows are not nice, interesting little entertainments. They are painstakingly created, slightly warped world views, peopled by an astonishing variety of bewildered, dignified, self-mocking characters. . . . This latest Carpenter book deserves all the attention it is bound to get, and contains some of the most memorable and original writing in Canada right now.

- Sue Sorensen


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