Oil-soaked and swamp-born, the bruised optimism of Huebert’s stories offer sincere appreciation of the beauty of our wilted, wheezing world.
From refinery operators to long term care nurses, dishwashers to preppers to hockey enforcers, Chemical Valley’s compassionate and carefully wrought stories cultivate rich emotional worlds in and through the dankness of our bio-chemical animacy. Full-hearted, laced throughout with bruised optimism and sincere appreciation of the profound beauty of our wilted, wheezing world, Chemical Valley doesn’t shy away from urgent modern questions—the distribution of toxicity, environmental racism, the place of technoculture in this ecological spasm—but grounds these anxieties in the vivid and often humorous intricacies of its characters’ lives. Swamp-wrought and heartfelt, these stories run wild with vital energy, tilt and teeter into crazed and delirious loves.
Praise for Chemical Valley
"By delving into the lives of a range of characters, feral hockey players, grieving shift-workers, and love-sick teenagers, Huebert asks an urgent question—how to survive in a world that values chemicals and capitalism over human life? Lively, affecting, tragic, careful, and shot-through with humor, the stories seeped under my skin. I won't forget them any time soon."—Claire Cameron, author of The Last Neanderthal
“These stories are a making and unmaking, a feeling into the world and then a kind of visceral wrenching so that all that is or was once living unwinds and flashes of story break free—binding the reader into the flesh of a burdened earth, still breathing. An ecstatic surrender of beloved flesh, and dream, and carbon beings through geological and human (altered) time. Huebert tinkers human time across industrial effigies that make and break and will one day also be broken—a dream not yet quite dreamt, but this work is part of the dreaming. This collection is, in Huebert’s own exquisite play of words, ‘beautiful and polluted, toxic and sublime.’”—Angélique Lalonde, author of Glorious Frazzled Beings
“Visceral, intelligent, and original, David Huebert’s Chemical Valley displays a deep empathy and understanding of human relationships and a profound concern for our world. I was struck by how Huebert can take the grittiest of subject matter and turn it beautiful with his lyrical, alchemical prose. The stories in this collection are saturated with imagery and full of exquisite, textured language: this is the kind of writing that deserves to be read closely.”—Shashi Bhat, author of The Most Precious Substance on Earth
Praise for David Huebert
"In David Huebert’s 'Chemical Valley,' the narrator’s remarkable voice is laced with dark humour while displaying a tremendous depth of feeling as he cares for his dying partner and navigates a dangerous workplace replete with unpleasant coworkers. This is a complex story about love, death, and grief set in a contemporary Canadian community plagued by petrochemical-induced diseases and environmental ruin. The attention to language is so meticulous that tragedy is imbued with an aura of beauty. Each exquisite sentence in 'Chemical Valley' produces a sense of wonderment as the narrative crescendos to its harrowing conclusion."— 2020 Journey Prize Jury statement
"A paean to intimacy and to things rarely seen, 'Enigma' is an eloquent meditation on the mystery of life and death, love and grief, both human and animal. This is a vivid personal narrative of remarkable spiritual and emotional grace." —2016 CBC Prize jury statement (
"David Huebert’s short story collection, Peninsula Sinking brings all of the beauty, grace and heartbreak that the form excels at and then rattles you with its imagery."—The East Magazine
"A sense of wonderment penetrates the everyday lives of characters from the Maritimes in this well-crafted, compelling collection that displays a mastery of classical short-story structure and technique. Huebert’s vibrant language juxtaposes tough characters with tender preoccupations, creating narratives that are unsettling and mesmerizing, making ordinary moments in relationships thrilling and dangerous."—2017 Danuta Gleed Jury