Sparrow Nights

Publisher: Vintage Canada
An exhilarating novel of erotic and psychotic extremes from one of Canada’s best fiction writers.

Everyone would agree that Darius Halloway was the most civilized of men, a professor of French literature, a connoisseur of ideas and women and wine, a perfect guest at life’s dinner party. Darius himself would have agreed, until Emma, waifish and insatiable,walks out the door, leaving her empty clothes hangers rattling in his closet.

For a little while, it’s not so bad. He thinks she must come back, and other women find his melancholy quite compelling. But then the sparrows of insomnia start picking at the inside of his skull. Life’s little aggravating moments seem to require him to seek direct retaliation. Soon all his smoothness and cleverness is directed toward wreaking the most elaborate revenge… and getting away with it. Until the ultimate retaliation arises, and there he is, in the most damning of situations, with his nerves on fire and his heart in his throat…finally not thinking of Emma.

From the Hardcover edition.


Chapter One

Let me come back, just for a second, to Emma Carpenter. She had been introduced by the chairman at a cocktail party and I thought, there’s something wrong with her. She smells funny. Indeed she did, a kind of acrid odour, like a frightened animal, and it seemed very odd to me that such a...
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“With Sparrow Nights, David Gilmour joins the list of inspired modern monologists that begins with Dostoevsky and includes Sartre, Camus, Beckett, Thomas Bernhard and Céline.... [Gilmour] is a brilliant stylist capable of an extraordinary range of effects.” -- Boston Review

“[B]racing and original.” -- The Standard (St. Catharine’s)

“[A]s engaging as anything he’s written…. Gilmour is not one to shrink from the sordid aspects of sex and death, and that he can spin such a tale with wit and economy of phrase is a tribute to his storytelling skill.” -- Winnipeg Free Press

“[A] testament to Gilmour’s writing and narrative pacing that he keeps us at the just right distance, repelled yet fascinated.” -- The Hamilton Spectator

“Elegantly written…. [Gilmour] writes with a smart, unpretentious appreciation of women…. He succeeds with wit, thoughtfulness and aplomb.” -- The Vancouver Sun

“In his latest novel, Sparrow Nights, David Gilmour has created a classic or textbook anti-hero…. And, as always, Gilmour writes in a clear, concise, lapidary prose. In a literary landscape littered with victims, interlarded with heroes, it is refreshing, for once, to spend time with a character as unrepentant as he is unpleasant; a real bad egg.” -- David Eddie, National Post

“Gilmour … is a clever craftsman. Carefully written and loaded with irony, Sparrow Nights succeeds…. Ultimately what makes this novel work is what makes it disturbing -- it's that there could be a little Professor Halloway in us all.” -- The Gazette (Montreal)

“What miracles good writing can achieve…. Sparrow Nights proves it belongs to the best forms of literature.” -- The Globe and Mail

“…witty and darkly comical…” -- Books In Canada

“Gilmour is a fine writer with a sardonic sense of humour…” -- Booklist

“Like Jerzy Kosinski, Gilour is able to carry readers deep into the mind of a self-rationalizing madman; it’s an exhilarating journey, expertly observed and quite disturbing.” -- Publishers Weekly

“[Gilmour’s] latest is sure to solidify his reputation as an edgy, intelligent author. This work offers a great deal of mordant wit, and the writing is consistently first-rate, layering memory, inner monolog, and fast-paced action. Recommended for all collections.” -- Library Journal

“Gilmour's prose has flashes of bright metaphor, and his dialogue is alert and alive. Darius is a believable aesthete -- he's consumed with status, the impression he's making and the gnawing power of the past.” -- New York Times Review

“Canadian novelist David Gilmour’s mordantly hilarious and dazzlingly written new novel, Sparrow Nights, falls solidly in this tradition, but it does not simply ring the changes. Even as Gilmour provides some of the familiar satisfactions -- a caustically articulate narrator à la Humbert Humbert and an increasingly bleak and dangerous series of humiliating misadventures -- he also manages to put a new twist or two into it…. In spite of everything, the reader is likely to be as captivated by the sound of Halloway’s voice as Halloway himself is. Halloway may be a major-league jackass, not to mention a vandal and worse, but he’s a hugely entertaining one. As Humbert Humbert used to say, you can always count on a murderer for a fancy prose style.” -- The Washington Post