“Intimate and arch, pepper-hot and coolly comic … Creelman’s characters are convincing, damaged, insightful, odd, compassionate, and ever so slightly morally askew — in other words, utterly compelling and true to life. You will love this novel.”
-Lisa Moore, author of Alligator
“A remarkably self-assured first novel with characters that must surely exist somewhere outside of its deftly written pages … Creelman builds a kind of panopticon around each of her characters so finely faceted that we rarely get a chance to judge them before our perspective is forced to shift.”
–Quill & Quire
The Darren Effect is Libby Creelman’s much anticipated first novel, following her critically acclaimed short story collection Walking in Paradise, which was shortlisted for the Winterset Award in 2000. Set in modern-day St. John’s Newfoundland,The Darren Effect draws a sharp and finely rendered portrait of both the physical and psychological effects of grief.
Heather Welbourne grieves secretly for the married man she loves. He is dying of cancer, and his wife and son cannot accept the loss they will bear. Acceptance implies forgiveness, and everyone in their small coastal community struggles with accepting and forgiving. Unable to do either, both young and old find weirdly creative and comically neurotic methods to express silent and unforgiven pain.
Into this strange and casually hung-up world arrives Darren, a scientist consumed with the lives of seabirds. His unusual habits stimulate the fascination of Heather and her sister, and his natural knowledge suggests possibilities for relieving their own unhappy obsessions. Eventually Heather presses him about the Bruce Effect, an uncommon phenomenon whereby pregnant animals reabsorb the fetus after pairing with a male who is not the father. But, Heather’s question is not really what she’s asking Darren to answer.
Disturbing, messed up, and shockingly funny, Libby Creelman delivers on the promise of her earlier story collection Walking in Paradise. The Darren Effect is alive with characters both memorable and intimately recognizable in their struggle with self mastery and desire.
“Libby Creelman peoples her novel with fascinating varieties of injured souls—lost birds with broken wings or invisible internal damage who, in a hard world won’t last a week on their own, but given time and rest and a loving hand, might well fly again. A tender, surprising, moving read.”
-Alan Cumyn, author of The Famished Lover
“The language … is wonderfully authentic … Creelman is concerned with affirming life, even though she is well aware of how death lives among us. The novel marries the tragic and comic to wonderful effect in developing the complexity of ordinary lives.”
–Globe and Mail
“Affairs and adultery have long figured in novels, but have you ever read one in which a youngish man who’s leading a double life dies in the first half? It’s a startlingly fresh premise … Creelman develops the characters with so much vivid detail that they seem absolutely real … Small-town life, working life, fierce children, injured birds, love in its many forms and sexual jealousy are just some of the things Libby Creelman gets exactly right.”
“It has been a while since I have read a book that captures the nuances of domestic dysfunction as well as this one does, yet manages to end with such fierce hope.”
“The Darren Effect, crisply written and an effortless read, is often complex, and darkly so … Creelman is the type of observant writer that can decode all manner of domestic chaos and betrayal from a singed grilled cheese sandwich or too many wine bottles in the recycling box … Creelman has achieved a great effect of her own with this work.”
Goose Lane Editions, Canada, March 2008