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Mark Foss

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Kissing the Damned

“Foss tells (the) Murray story in the perfect pitch, a loose comfortable style that rarely strikes a false note. Moreover, there are some real gems among the episodes. “The Escort,” expertly juxtaposes the emotionally frigid Murray with the jocular warmth of Frank Chande, a visitor from Nigeria, and in doing so, poignantly illustrates just how hard it is for Murray to reach out. “Sleepover” captures that ambivalence that we often feel, but rarely admit, at the beginning of a relationship. “Games We Play” expertly draws on the tensions that exist between friends. Most of Foss’ characters read true. Murray, however emotionally stunted, is complex and likeable, and in his exchanges with Brie, a unique and well constructed character, slices of real comedy shine through.”

The Danforth Review
(Kissing the Damned)

**

“Kissing the Damned, the first book by Mark Foss, explores the emotional ups and downs of Murray Lockhart, an Ottawa-based aid worker, who yearns for stable relationships with the women he dates, yet can't seem to hold one for long. Deep within him, there's an emotional insecurity, which prevents him from opening up his heart. His shaky sense of identity, the result of a tumultuous relationship with his father, eats away at him, giving the book a melancholic aura.

Though it is centrally about Murray's conflicting emotions in a relationship setting, the novel lacks a single plot line that draws readers from the first page to the last. Rather, the stories are packaged in a way that (mistakenly) leaves readers with a feeling that the book is a collection of short stories about one person.

But like a thread connecting together torn pieces of cloth, the exploration of Murray's personality and unsure identity is the one element that packages the stories together, giving them a sense of oneness that is both powerful and intriguing.”

Embassy Magazine

**

“Set mainly in the National Capital Region and in cottage country near Brockville, Kissing the Damned links 13 themed stories, some darkly humorous, and others rather melancholy, in which the protagonist—a disenchanted, middle-aged direct-mail writer for a foreign aid organization—meditates on love, loss, sex and the inescapable importance of meaningful work in the life of every contented human being… Rendered ineffectual, he struggles to shake free of the shackles imposed on him by others and to regain the power he has lost. The protagonist learns to breach the dividing wall he has build around himself.”

Ottawa Life Magazine