“The Architects Are Here” by Michael Winter

Posted: July 7, 2010 in Dark Art Cafe





This is a true story about my friend David Twombly and about the nature of our friendship. David is gone now, and there is a temptation to eulogize him in some time-honoured way that would implicitly deny the intensity and texture of what we shared. I intend to avoid that. I want the immediacy of the quotidian, its take-no-prisoners feel and sharp wiff (3).

So begins Michael Winter’s The Architects Are Here, a novel that takes you inside the mind of Gabriel English, a Newfoundland writer raised in Corner Brook but living for a time in Toronto, and into Gabriel’s peculiar and raucous friendship with David Twombly. Critic T.R. Rigelhoff has compared Winter’s writing to that of a latter-day Henry James and there is something true in such a comparison. Winter writes life into his story in a way that gives you the immediacy of the quotidian, its take-no-prisoners feel and sharp wiff. The story moves from David and Gabe’s childhood in Corner Brook to the arrival of Nell Tarkington to Nell’s involvement with David’s father, Arthur Twombly, and on into the intersecting and border-crossing adult lives of Gabe, Nell, and David.

What may have turned into a melodramatic soap-opera with a lesser writer becomes an exhilarating ride with Winter behind the wheel, in the head of Gabe: a narrator trying to understand his ultra-modern friend David and his own enigmatic girlfriend Nell. But revelations are never what you think they will be  in this novel: they explode like a split gas-line or fire off like a high-powered rifle. But between these blow-outs Winter leads us deep into his characters’ humanity: into what it means to be loved, betrayed, befuddled, alone and uplifted.

In some ways your life can be utterly ruined but all the systems for that life stream on. There is, in selective corridors of tragedy, a brute force that persists (153).

This dogged, often hilarious persistance is the pulse of the novel, where people are not wed but welded to each other, where a simple road trip home can spin out of control, and where your very breathlessness shocks you back to life. 

For more information on Michael Winter read Chad Pelley’s “He Makes The Ordinary Explosive: An Overview of and Interview with Michael Winter“. Or visit the author’s website: http://www.michaelwinterbooks.com/.


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