The Ketzer


“Beside a beached canoe stood a man, smiling. He was very tall and thin, his skin and hair so fair, his teeth so large and white he seemed to have been bleached like linen in the sun. She had never seen a man so blond, a face so homely in quite that way: the bulging teeth, the shy delight, the cotton whiteness of his skin, the frolic in his eyes. And he was clapping. It was a formal clap, his long fingers faintly, nervously tapping the palm of his left hand reminding her of words she never used, like virtuoso, concerto. She stared at the man in search of a category: clown? giant child? albino? All those strange words had nowhere to go.”

Winner of the Descant National Novella Competition, The Ketzer has just been released by Hagios in a special limited hardback edition. Ketzer is the German word for heretic. This novella is about a young woman named Flora, a farm girl, who returns home to her family and is invited on a deer hunt by her father and brothers. She goes along, if only to show the men in her life that she can do it. When the hunters run across the trail of a buck as big as a legend, they get far more than they bargained for. This is a classic hunting story, a love story, a wilderness adventure, a German romantic novella, and a cautionary tale about hunters and their quarry.


the Ketzer cover


mp3Reading Excerpt


Critical Response

Perhaps all creation is an act of remembering, an intersection between the present and the past....The Ketzer is such an activity, transporting a figure from German folklore forward through time and space, from mountain meadow to the flats of Saskatchewan. “Only connect,” said E.M. Forster. The Ketzer [dramatizes] the human capacity to connect, and the heroine, Flora, is its embodimant....Flora is an embarrassment and a threat both to herself and the men who surround her. The story traces her gradual acknowledgement and acceptance of her own gift. In the process, others come to understand its importance as well.

- Karen Mulhallen, Descant

My favourite works of fiction [this year, 2004] were ... by Saskatchewan writers. There should be an award given for best writing in Canada, Regional Division. This year, from Saskatchewan, there was David Carpenter’s The Ketzer....

- Andre Alexis, Globe & Mail


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