• Oscar Martens
  • April 15, 2020
  • Short Stories | 224pp
  • Trade Paper  978-1-77168-195-7  $14.99
  • Ebook  978-1-77168-196-4  $7.99
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No Call Too Small

An accomplished writer, Oscar Martens has been nominated for several Canadian literary awards. This anthology compiles some of his best work previously only published separately.

By the end of the day, a cop must choose between ethics and social death. A camp counsellor, stuck deep in the woods with a small group of boys, only has a few hours before the DTs kick in. Adult children scramble to get the best of what remains of their mother’s estate, but funeral plans may be premature. Sandwiched between a depressed mother and a careless father, a young girl must help attract customers to the family business, no matter the cost.

The stories in No Call Too Small represent micro-scale disaster tourism on a winding road that is long and dark. Driving too fast, weaving between flaming wrecks, and drifting through cliff-side curves, there’s little choice but to hang on and meet whatever’s over the rise head on.


“Martens’s striking, perceptive collection illuminates a range of Canadians in moments of bad luck and dissatisfaction. His haunting, darkly funny situations, captured in crisp, spare prose, will appeal to fans of George Saunders.” — Publishers Weekly

“Oscar Martens’s characters hurtle their way toward potential disaster or redemption in these vivid stories of lives burdened by misunderstandings and disappointment, usually self-inflicted. Martens’s strong prose is a pleasure to read, with dark humour and lively storytelling that brings a quirky humanity to his characters.” — Janie Chang, Globe and Mail bestselling author of Dragon Springs Road

“Oscar Martens is the twitchy love child of Tom Waits, Charles Bukowski and Ricky Gervais. These stories are lean, and loaded, and devastatingly true. In just a few pages, Martens throws his readers into the deep end of a swimming pool swarming with sharks, or piranhas, or hungry polar bears – and you, dear reader, have a flesh wound. These short stories read like brilliant, poignant novels. Highly recommended.” —  Thomas Trofimuk, author of Waiting for Columbus 

“Deeply humane and often darkly funny, Martens’s stories appeal to the slightly off-centre observer in all of us.  He writes with luminous honesty of the restlessness of never quite fitting in, whether it be in the landscape, family or community.  From the girl who rides the Ferris wheel all day to try to draw customers into her father’s failing prairie gas station to the cop who removes his prosthetic nose when he wants to scare criminals into submission, these characters invite tenderness as they provoke and entertain.” — Nadine McInnis, author of Delirium for Solo Harp

“Oscar Martens’ collection is a warm, safe port in the storm that is life these days. His writing is vivid and clear, his characters honest and their stories full of the details and emotional truth that make them real. I read these stories, one by one, as a nightly ritual, as a special treat before going to sleep to call up the dreams that make for a peaceful sleep.” — Jennifer Haupt, Editor, One True Thing, Psychology Today

“I knew Oscar Martens was the real thing when I first read him over twenty years ago. These new stories offer fresh evidence aplenty. Smart, honest, sparely eloquent, moving, humane, and disillusioned in the healthiest sense of a word that gets way too much bad press. Martens is funny, too, desperately so—and how else is a writer supposed to observe and portray this world we’ve made?” — Steven Heighton, Governor General’s Award winner and author of The Nightingale Won’t Let You Sleep

“Taut, efficient and always just a beat away from heartbreak, No Call Too Small is a beautifully crafted collection. Martens deftly explores surprising and unexpected worlds, using them as a prism to dissect and understand human nature. With each successive story, I felt I was in the hands of a writer who knows more than a thing or two about love and pain.” — Marcia Butler, author of Pickle’s Progress