Prairie Books NOW Review - Wiseman's Wager

Reviewed by: Bev Sandell Greenberg

Bridging the Gap

Margoshes releases novel, short story collection

by Bev Sandell Greenberg

"Books have different gestation periods," says Saskatcehwan author Dave Margoshes about the two books he published this year - a short story collection, God Telling a Joke and Other Stories, and a novel, Wiseman's Wager. "One book came together faster than I expected; the other took much longer."

In fact, Wiseman's Wager was 20 years in the making. Set in strike-era Winnipeg, 1930s Toronto, and 1980s Calgary, the novel recounts the life of Zan Wiseman, an 82-year-old novelist who suffers from writer's block.

During a trip to the emergency room, Zan's joke about suicide leads the doctor to refer him to a psychologist. Throughout the course of the book, she riddles him with questions about his life. However, Zan's memory is so unreliable that oftene he can't sort out the facts from the memories that he has embellished or fabricated. 

"I started this novel 18 years ago during my stint as writer-in-residence in Winnipeg after considering the story for a few years before that," says Margoshes. "I was in my 50s then and the age gap between me and the protagonist was big, making the task of writing about an elderly character more challenging."

Wiseman's Wager was inspired by the life of the late American author Henry Roth. "After reading Roth's only novel, I later learned that he suffered from writer's block for many years," states Margoshes. "This fact seemed like a perfect metaphor for the inability to act and later have regrets - something that struck me as universal."


This is an excerpt. The full article on Dave Margoshes appeared in Prairie Books NOW Fall/Winter 2014 edition

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