In Timothy Taylor’s “Doves of Townsend, ” these words, found in the pages of a field guide to butterflies, throw a lifeline to a young woman struggling to stay emotionally afloat in the wake her father’s suicide. They help her to explain to herself her father’s obsession with beautiful things. They also help her to understand the true value of her father’s legacy — the family’s antiques business, and her own inborn helplessness before the beautiful and the real.
“Doves of Townsend” was chosen the best short story of the year 2000 by the judges of the Journey Prize, the Canadian counterpart to the U.S. O. Henry Prize Story. It and the eight other pieces collected here, many of them already anthologized in Best Canadian Short Stories and other annuals, bring us a new voice in short fiction — brilliant, stylish, humorous, and humane. In each of Taylor’s tales, certain mysterious things of this world — an antique watch, a mountain of radiators, a racing-form, a constellation — reveal their beauty to those who have eyes to see. To read Silent Cruise is to see this poignant beauty for oneself, and, like Taylor’s characters, to have one’s life irresistibly changed by it.