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3.17  ·  Rating details ·  143 ratings  ·  30 reviews
It is summer and the Canadian Rockies are on fire. As the forests blaze, Alan West heads into their shadows, returning from university to his grandfather's home in the remote Kootenay Valley, where the man who raised him has suffered a heart attack. Confronting his own mortality, the tough and taciturn Cecil West has a dying request for his grandson: track down the father ...more
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published June 25th 2013 by Bloomsbury USA (first published May 7th 2013)
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Average rating 3.17  · 
Rating details
 ·  143 ratings  ·  30 reviews

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Philippe Malzieu
Mar 23, 2015 rated it it was ok
I keep on exploring the North-American literature. The novel is well written, but however I show reserve on it. There is a family history hidden, the research for the father with an inevitably initiatory travel, the painful hidden secrecies which re-appear. I have the impression to have already read it. That feel literary workshop.
May 09, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: canadian
Having read Wilson's story collection 'Once You Break A Knuckle' last year, it's fair to say 'Ballistics' was one of my most eagerly anticipated titles of 2013. So it's with some disappointment that I'm only giving it three stars. After finishing his first book I wanted to go back to Invermere and the Kootenay Valley for more and that is certainly what 'Ballistics' delivers - again it's very masculine, all about sons and fathers (and grandfathers), who wear ball caps and never a "collared shirt" ...more
♥ Sandi ❣
May 20, 2013 rated it did not like it
I did not get into this book - probably not the books fault, but mine. One thing I did not enjoy about this book was the lack of quotation marks. I find it difficult to read when they are missing. To para phrase a friend - you have to re-read sections - you are not always sure if what you read was a comment, a thought or descriptive narrative. Books without proper puncuation have never appealed to me.
Beth (bibliobeth)
Aug 24, 2013 rated it it was ok
This is another of the debut Waterstones Eleven authors predicted for great things this year, please see my previous post HERE. The premise definitely sounded interesting, a man is searching for the father he has never known on the dying request of his grandfather who raised him from a baby. For some reason not known to the reader yet, Alan’s grandfather Cecil West and father Jack, have not spoken or seen each other for many years. Cecil hopes that by reaching out to his son at the end of his li ...more
John Bartlett
Mar 28, 2014 rated it liked it
I was relieved when I'd finished this story. Not that the writing was inferior -quite the opposite in fact.

It was more that I grew tired of the characters (apart from the part-time narrator Alan).

They made such a mess of their lives; they fought with each other (literally as well as emotionally), shot each other, burned each others homes down.

This is a savage story about regret and how failing to forgive or understand goes down the ages. Families crucify each other.
I'd had enough of that.

I did s
kick ass canadian novel, set in kooteney area, so big big mountains, cold cold winters, wide wide valleys. and all those who exploit taht for a living. lots of dying towns, busted up retired loggers, and ennui. a bit of a muddle plot wise, or character wise, with quite a bit of illicit sex, and the ankle biters thereof, following through the generations.
i wonder.....did any usa military decamp to canada during iraq afghanistan wars? guess not, they are all volunteers?
they did during vietnam wa
Apr 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
While I enjoyed this novel, I couldn't honestly say I loved it, but I'm not sure why. Maybe it was just a bit too macho for me - too full of taciturn old men unable to communicate except through fists or a gun, only willing to show affection in the time honoured hard man way of taking the piss. Not that these characters weren't well drawn - they were, but they didn't seem to develop between the two time frames in which the book was set - in the now they were every bit as stubborn and short sight ...more
Dec 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
On a whole, the typical bad press given in other reviews is a result of preference on pace and style. The book moves slower than what most people are used to, and despite having distinctive voices for the two main characters, people are still confused.

The only issue here is the abrupt ending.

Still a 5/5

For the full review follow the link here:
Jessica McDonald
Nov 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What can I honestly say about this book? It was great... I loved it... The lack of quotation marks is something my English Studies brain is still working furiously to understand, but maybe I'll just have to accept that... The characters were incredibly complex and interesting, and the way Wilson unraveled the story through both Alan and Archer's perspectives was illuminating, to say the least. It was also a freaking tragic book and it made me feel empty and dead inside... in a good way because i ...more
Christina Rochester
Jan 06, 2019 rated it it was ok
I didn’t really enjoy Ballistics. I think it’s personal taste but if I’m honest I really struggle with books that don’t have quotation marks. It makes it so much harder to differentiate between speech and descriptive text.

Overall I was more interested in Archer’s backstory than anything else. But I wasn’t interested enough to be gripped and I’m disappointed that I’ve spent £7.50 on this.
Sid Nuncius
Oct 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I thought this was an excellent book. It's not perfect, but it has real depth, a powerful narrative drive, distinctive and evocative prose and has a lot of very insightful things to say, particularly about men and boys. Set in small-town and rural Western Canada, the story concerns Alan, a young man who was brought up there by his grandfather who has a heart attack and sends Alan on a quest to find his father. Told in two narrative voices, we hear the present-day story from Alan intercut with th ...more
Sep 13, 2015 rated it liked it
ballistics has two narrators. One is Archer, a soldier on the run from the military at the time of the Vietnam War. He’s done one tour and doesn’t want to go back for a second. With his teenage daughter, Linnea , he heads into Canada, where he meets Cecil West and his teenage son, Jack. Cecil is a widower, now engaged to Nora; Archer has split up from his wife. Over a period of time, Jack and Linnea get together and a baby, Alan West, is the result. But the two young parents then go their own wa ...more
' ... the landscape, the mere presence of it, as large as imagination and possibility, as large as forgiveness, that should - but doesn't, truly doesn't - make insignificance of the worries of men.'

This is a solid first novel in every sense of the word. Weighing in at 380 pages, it did feel a lot longer. Wilson is a fine writer but the story itself is worth maybe 2-stars. So the fact that I've settled on a 3 is testament to Wilson's talent. The book brims masculinity; it's a well-scoped story sp
Jul 14, 2015 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Those who like "coming of age" or "family drama" stories.
Set in the semi-wilds of British Columbia, "Ballistics" tells of two families, both broken, who befriend each other for a time and then are torn apart by betrayal. After a close brush with death a la heart attack, Cecil West sends his grandson Alan on a mission to find his erstwhile father. Wildfires rage throughout the story and seem to be a metaphor for the turmoil the characters feel (Archer especially comes to mind).

Pros: Wilson writes some dang good prose, almost poetic in nature at times.
Dan Downing
Nov 19, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Weighing in at 384 pages this could well have run to 500. In fact, it really did, but I supplied the additional hundred odd pages by filling in inference, completing thoughts, answering the unanswered questions and supplying paragraphs to knit the hints scattered throughout the book about how things were and would be. Altogether an enjoyable exercise, spurred on by close and fluid prose.

D.W. Wilson, author of the collection "Once You Break a Knuckle", leaves behind the short story and writes a f
Jo Swingler
Sep 14, 2013 rated it it was ok
DW Wilson has definitely got a very distinctive voice and uses language creatively; I loved the way he captured masculinity. However, I felt that the voices of his two main characters were too similar and the story itself trailed off halfway through. I almost gave up on this one and actually ended up skim-reading the last part just to find out what happened. I felt it could have done with more careful editing. I'll have a look out for his short story collection now because I feel his style might ...more
Tamra LeValley
May 14, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: winner-books
This book was just too hard to read. It felt as if the author was straining to get this story out.

There were no quotation marks for when a character was speaking and while reading each new paragraph I had to guess who was "talking." Half way through the author would mention other characters which would then clue me into who was actually doing the "remembering" at that time or if we were back to the future looking for the father.

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RJ Lackie
Nov 14, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, male-author
Wilson's writing is still gorgeous, but where his short story collection may be one of my favourite books ever, Ballistics is a bit of a slog. I so wanted to love this book, but in the end, it didn't quite earn the itime investment required, as much as I enjoyed chunks of it.
Jodie Warner
Jan 14, 2015 rated it liked it
I "read" this as an audio book and enjoyed the descriptions in particular. I had really vivid images of the characters in my mind. I could imagine this as a film. Family dynamics are always interesting!
Feb 01, 2015 rated it it was ok
Enjoyed it at first as I spent lots of time in the town the story is set in when I was growing up. But I grew weary of it. There was far too much fighting and just so much betrayal and misunderstanding that it just left me feeling frustrated. I really wanted to love it but I just didn't.
Nov 28, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: did-not-finish
I've attempted to get into this novel, but with a large TBR shelf, after 150 pages have given up in the hope that my next read will be more engaging. It's been a long time since I've read a novel that's held my attention less.
Gavin Newton
Apr 05, 2014 rated it it was ok
Started well and gives a good sense of the place. Makes it feel very remote and desolate. It seemed to peter out. A bit disappointing.
Gerri Brightwell
May 31, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: book-club-books
One-dimensional portrayal of rural BC. Stereotype male behaviour. Fragmented plot line. Not much else to say....
Waterstones Peterborough
Couldn't really get on with it. No finished.
Emily Andrews
I was actually quite pleased with this book. I am not usually drawn in with a male protagonist, but he was warm and confused and endearing. if you are looking for closure in a book, don't read this.
Frederic Fovet
Aug 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
A sort of Canadian version of Jasper Jones. Definitely worth a read, even if the first 50 pages are a little tough going - an original Canadian voice (ironic he lives in East Anglia!)
Sep 03, 2014 rated it did not like it
Shelves: book-club, fiction
Castle Towers Book Club Selection
Aug 03, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: unfinished
I couldn't really get on with this. Not sure why. I won't over-analyse it though.
Oct 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
Loved the picture painted of the Canadian landscape, characters always interesting and carried the story very well.
Dec 14, 2014 rated it it was ok
Ich hatte hohe Erwartungen, doch leider: Diese Road Novel erreicht bei weitem nicht die literarische Klasse sujet-verwandter Romane wie David Gutersons "Der Andere" oder David Vanns "Goat Mountain".
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I am the author of two books, Ballistics and Once You Break a Knuckle, as well as a host of other separately published stories and essays, some of which have won prizes like BBC Short Story Award, the CBC Canada Writes Story Prize, and the Manchester Fiction Prize. That's the bones of my bio, same one you'll find on other websites or in the sleeves of my two books.

I love books but I also love nerd
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“You know what they say about's in the dictionary between shit and syphilis.” 2 likes
“I've always thought the prettiest smiles are the ones that show the most teeth.” 0 likes
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