I first saw author P.W. Bridgman deliver his work at a poetry reading, a warm, compact room packed with poetry enthusiasts. Taking the mic, the author’s demeanor was understated, not unlike his work. Which is why I find myself repeatedly struck by his writing. It’s very, very good. Poetry and prose alike. His use of words is sparing, perhaps from a lifetime of judicious writing in literary and legal journals. Yet every word serves a purpose, guiding readers on a journey always worth taking.
Becoming a fan upon first hearing his work, I soon had his poetry book, A Lamb (Ekstasis Editions, 2018) in a position of prominence on my shelves, a title I enjoy revisiting. Passages are replete with emotion: happiness, regret, dread, joy, the feelings of everyday life. And it’s the everyday nature of this author’s work that invariably makes it relatable, while simultaneously tugging from somewhere beneath the surface—times gently soothing, others acerbically sharp—with depth of insight and poignancy. So when I learned that Bridgman had released a new book, The Four-Faced Liar: Short Stories and Flash Fiction, I was eager to jump in.
This is from the opening story, The Colours of Love and Loss …
“My stepfather died a prosaic death—a death whose utter banality would have appealed to Larkin’s wry taste for the prosaic and the pedestrian.”
With these words we see and feel so much, sharing a loss that triggers curiosity as much as grief, glimpsing backstories in the process.
And from Four Vancouver Flashes, this is from Shotgun Wedding: 1960 …
“Within a week of the day Ed met Giovanna in the beer parlour at the Cobalt, Mrs. Pinsky married them in the living room of her house near the corner of Pandora and Triumph.”
The fact I know these locations makes it seem familiar. But it’s far from essential. Each place name itself is evocative, symbolic, hinting at multiple meanings.
And this is from the title story, The Four-Faced Liar …
“Presently, the heavy footfalls of Sweeney, the irritable tattooed plumber, can be heard approaching. Mrs. Ogilvie’s heart leaps like a girl’s. She checks her purse for the little packet of alcohol-impregnated hand-nappies she saved from her last trip on the Eurostar. Oooh, she felt so guilty when she took dozens of them and stuffed them into her carry-on!”
Once more a select handful of words opens countless windows onto our protagonist’s character, faith, and personal history.
As I finish reading The Four-Faced Liar, I’m left with the satisfaction one has following a five-star meal. Portion sizes, at first glance, might strike some as modest. But upon completion, you are utterly satisfied. What’s been presented and shared is exactly what should be presented and shared. The chef does know best. And with Bridgman’s latest offering I recommend taking a seat. Let the cook do what they consistently do so well, pulling together ingredients to tantalize, nourish, and sate. In this case through words, discrete and brilliant. Yet again, author P.W. Bridgman has created a series of journeys worth taking.
The Four-Faced Liar can be purchased online directly from Ekstasis Editions: http://ekstasiseditions.com/
About the Author: P.W. Bridgman writes from Vancouver, Canada. He’s worked as a cobbler’s helper, grocery boy, delivery driver, general labourer and electrician’s helper at a paper mill, child behaviour therapy clinician and researcher, autism treatment program director, member of the editorial board of a psychological journal, university law faculty research assistant, articled student-at-law, barrister, editor-in-chief of two legal journals, and judge. He earned his undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in psychology, and his degree in law, from the University of British Columbia. Learn more about P.W. Bridgman at his website: pwbridgman.ca
- Title: The Four-Faced Liar: Short Stories and Flash Fiction
- Author: P.W. Bridgman
- Publisher: Ekstasis Editions, 2021
- ISBN: 978-1-77171-414-3
- Pages: 109 pages