With blood on his hands, Curtis Woolf flees his home in New Mexico for Canada, where he starts a religious commune, the Family. There he heals others and preaches pacifism while enduring the torment of his own damaged soul.
Then his lover, Martha, finds his gun and goes south to discover the truth, whatever that might be. Curtis sets out to bring her back, lest the Family fall apart.
In the half-light of a nursing home sits Hollis, dragon lord of a lost Mormon line, who has anointed Curtis, damned him, and now awaits his return.
Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer’s writing is full of dark humour and razor-sharp insight. Catching human fallibility head-on, she demands examination, confrontation, and a reckoning of pain with beauty.
Kathryn’s novel, Perfecting, can now be ordered through Amazon.ca.
“Usually, this is the part of the review where I find minor fault, something to complain about so it doesn’t seem that I’m raving. Truth be told, there’s no fault to be found in Perfecting: it’s a powerful story, brilliantly told, and it surprised me from its opening page to its closing words. It’s all I want in a book, and I’m grateful that I didn’t miss it. You shouldn’t, either.”
– Robert Wiersema, The Edmonton Journal
“Perfecting, a book of rare quality and beauty, commands a slow, savouring read because no word is wasted and every sentence is heavy with meaning. Moreover, because all of the character’s past is so present in his or her mind — a past that clings like a skin they can’t molt, unlike Hollis, whose skin condition allows him to constantly renew himself — the narrative flows effortlessly between the past and the present with very little warning, thereby forcing readers to pay all the more attention. Kuitenbrouwer demands a lot from her readers, but every effort pays off tenfold.”
– Mélanie Grondin, Rover Arts review
“Perfecting ropes the backwoods of Ontario to the American southwest, offering up clouds of bees to contend with oil flares and guns. In all its marvelous strangeness, this novel hums with sometimes-violent life and the cadence of its supple, extraordinary sentences.”
– Catherine Bush, author of Claire’s Head, Rules of Engagement
“Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer’s characters are searchers — for love, for nation, for a belief to actually believe in — and their author has found a vital prose with which to bring them to life. Perfecting is rich in insight and artistry, both line-byline and as a whole.”
– Andrew Pyper, author of The Killing Circle
“Kuitenbrouwer treats us to the vision of a pelagian hell born from seeking perfection by human effort alone. Perfecting is St. Augustine’s worst nightmare come true. In the end, there is no resolution, no saving grace, only the bloody aftermath of revenge and unlove. We do not know how the surviving characters live on. Their fate is undetermined.
The writing is excellent. The portrayals of both characters and landscape are rich and evocative. Kuitenbrouwer is a keen observer of the human psyche and spirit. She makes real and present some difficult spiritual truths with the trueness that is the hallmark of a skilled artisan. And because it is beautiful and good in this fashion, the novel pushes us to confront our own ungraced self-reliance — the ways in which our efforts to save ourselves by ourselves wreak havoc on the lives of others.”
– Fr. Gilles Mongeau, S.J., Catholic Register Special
“Perfecting…is told from the point of view of seven different characters: Curtis, Martha, Hollis, Hollis’s mistress, and three of Curtis’s half-brothers.
Each voice is distinct and each believable, which would be reason enough to pick up this novel, but Kuitenbrouwer also writes exceptionally well about subjects she presumably has no first-hand knowledge of, including religious communities, fratricide and war rugs.”
– Ariel Gordon, The Winnipeg Free Press