Three poetic novellas centred around the author’s background of growing up as the child of a veterinarian.
Full of humour and compassion, Night Watch collects three novellas that explore the lives of rural veterinarians. Wigmore’s vets struggle to stay awake during unending calving seasons, reaching for moments of stillness and grace between phone calls and farm calls; they balance their own family’s births and deaths with shepherding animals through caesareans and euthanasia, covering miles of road in their vast jurisdictions during harsh winters and muddy, ruthless springs. Travelling from small towns in northern BC to the south of France and Fiji, sometimes in the span of a night and sometimes over a lifetime, the men and women in Night Watch work with their hands, keep their hearts in check, and strain to define themselves against the backdrop of an unforgiving job that puts them at the mercy of the elements—and each other.
A library branch manager and the daughter of a veterinarian, Gillian Wigmore has published three books of poems: soft geography, winner of the ReLit Award; Dirt of Ages, shortlisted for the George Ryga Award; and Orient. In addition to Night Watch, she has written a novella, Grayling, and Glory, a novel. She lives in Prince George, BC.
“First of all: not one, but three novellas featuring veterinarians and the people who love them? Genius! And then: the beauty of them, the exquisitely rendered inner lives of complicated people, the complicated workings of calves inside cows, the world in a donkey’s eye. Night Watch is tender and unflinching and totally captivating. I loved it.”—Anne Fleming, author of Gay Dwarves of America
“Rural veterinarians work tirelessly to save and heal what they can, and let go of what they can’t, as their spouses, siblings and lovers try to make sense of the world blazing around them in night skies full of stars, blistering in sunlight off snow. Characters orbit each other, childhoods are lost and recovered, regrets owned and released, choices made and questioned. In prose both blunt and nuanced, brutal and tender at once, Wigmore’s Night Watch will make you ache for paths not taken at the same time as you relish the journeys these characters haul you along on. You’ll feel the swelter of an awkward afternoon with a new lover, and the fatigue of a late spring night birthing calves as though they were your own memories. Night Watch moves with a warm, bloody, big heart that you’ll carry with you long after the last page is turned.”—Laisha Rosnau, author of Little Fortress
“In Night Watch, Gillian Wigmore’s new suite of novellas, characters stand at the edges of lives they’ve almost lived, wondering what could be, reaching across the boundaries of time and distance toward remembered intimacy, allowing themselves room to wonder, grieve and imagine more. Veterinary medicine threads through Night Watch: think James Herriot crossed with a gothic Canadian sensibility. There’s gore, sex, and gentleness; close calls, strange alliances, softening bodies; bruises and blood. Wigmore’s sentences sing: clear, surprising, and delightful. The writing is as bracing as the changing seasons in rural British Columbia, where much of the suite is set. Wigmore takes us outside, outdoors, in all weathers, and inside, into the secret lives of domesticated animals, their suffering and pleasures a mirror for the confusion of our own.”—Carrie Snyder, author of Girl Runner