Review of Night Watch

Night Watch

In her second book of short stories, Night Watch, Susan Zettell steps once again onto the familiar terrain of the contemporary family, where illness, drinking, abandonment, rebellion and death place strains on relationships. She writes clearly and convincingly about the inevitable results: divorce, loneliness, mental and emotional dysfunction.

Zettell compels us to pay attention to her fictional parents, spouses, children who, less carefully observed, might appear to be managing the uncertainties and infidelities—of their own making or beyond their control—that circumscribe their lives and threaten to erode family bonds.


Prairie Fire

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Night Watch

In Night Watch, Zettell's sophomore collection of short stories, those familiar with its streets and landmarks will recognize Kitchener in many of the stories. Reading about a city with which one is familiar certainly adds a dimension to the stories, but it's not the most compelling reason to pick up Night Watch.…a reader senses the presence (of) a talented writer with the potential of becoming a major writer.

As the title suggests, Night Watch is a dark collection of eight autonomous stories and a quartet of linked stories. But it's neither bleak nor depressing. Indeed, there is loss and abandonment, separation and absence, sickness and death. Cancer runs through the stories like a menacing leitmotif. But these sorrowful experiences are not presented as ends in themselves, but as integral to the process of life.

Zettell's characters are immediately recognizable.…We sympathize with their plights and their trials because Zettell presents them with such compassion and understanding.


The Record

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