The Lies We Tell

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Slaughter, Graham

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University of Guelph


The Lies We Tell is a semi-autobiographical novel about a gay man who falls into a coma, written by a gay man who has never been in a coma. The text explores topics including inter- generational relationships, online hookup culture in the mid-2000s, twins, and the nature of memory. The novel follows two protagonists, Dale and Luis, a couple of ten years living in Toronto who are on the brink of a breakup. Following a disastrous dinner party, Luis and Dale drive home (drunk) and get in a car accident (thanks to a deer), and thus begins Luis’s coma, during which he vividly relives — and reflects upon — his final year of high school. The novel is told through present- and past-tense narration in the third-person from both Dale and Luis’s perspectives. Inspired in part by other novels about characters in comas, the text uses multiple levels of dreamlike consciousness in an attempt to breathe new life into a tired literary trope. The characters' narrative arcs explore an array of themes, including a meditation on the lure of middle-class stability for gay men, how sexual abuse is internalized, and the terrifying power of self-deception.