A new collection of short fiction from the Governor General’s Literary Award-winning author and Scotiabank Giller Prize finalist Greg Hollingshead.
Act Normal is a collection of sharp, new comic stories about sex, art, and the daily risk of having accidents. Highly original, occasionally dark, but always endearing, these stories are filled with characters who are forced to confront strange behaviour in both themselves and others.
In “The Amazing Insult,” a blow to the head in a boating accident increases a woman’s intelligence and alters her sexual orientation. A man flees a rural meditation camp in for a highway bar in “The Retreat,” where he does his best to get to know a Haitian stripper. A depressed carpenter has to take a break from building his client’s fence in “Unbounded.” In “Night Dreams of the Wise,” a man sleeping with the wife of the British Defense Secretary learns, after a particularly wild night, to stop doing foolish things. A cleric is haunted by the revenant of a member of his diocese in “Miss Buffet.” Nominated for a National Magazine Award, “The Drug-Friendly House,” is the story of a man who attempts to befriend a woman living in a house that the neighbourhood association has labelled “drug friendly.”
Intelligent, insightful, humorous, and occasionally bizarre, Act Normal is a masterful return by Hollingshead to the short story form. Set in the treacherous terrain of the everyday, this collection is about the quest to find love and truth in a broken world.
About the author
GREG HOLLINGSHEAD has won the Governor General’s Award forFiction for his collection The Roaring Girl and the Rogers Writers’Trust Fiction Prize for The Healer. His work has been shortlisted for allmajor fiction awards in Canada, and his most recent novel, Bedlam, wasshortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best Book (Caribbean andCanada). He lives in Edmonton.
...a poignant, darkly comedic collection of stories predicated on the everyday risk of accidents.
Hollingshead’s stories are admirable in their refusal to offer their reader a conventional experience . . .
The Globe and Mail
Mining his astute observational skills, Hollingshead writes with a clear-eyed awareness of the human foibles that can make a mess of the world.
The stories of Greg Hollingshead are utterly unique, utterly strange and utterly exhilarating in their offbeat, offhand brilliance. There is no writer like him in Canada.
Lynn Coady, author of Hellgoing, winner of the Scotiabank Giller Prize
Reading this book is like entering an apparently normal, well-built house only to find that it has left the ground and is now floating. Funny, smart, amazingly unpredictable stories by one of this country's finest writers.
Gil Adamson, author of The Outlander
Greg Hollingshead is a sly and nimble writer. He has great range, but even more than that he has access to great feeling, which is evident throughout this surprising and exciting new collection of stories.
Meg Wolitzer, author of The Interestings
The master is back! And wow, what a book: nothing normal here — twelve stunning new stories by the great Greg Hollingshead that will knock you upside the heart and break your head — flush with dizzyingly brilliant insights into the contemporary dilemma, every line is cast in existential magic. Here's a fully-dilated peek into the secret lives of men and women on the brink.
Lee Henderson, author of The Man Game
Every sentence in Act Normal is a surprise. In fact, the stories are the sentences, each one veering into the next shock, until you’re far from the expected territory. Greg Hollingshead gives us what all great short story writers do: the pleasure of breaking with pattern for the wild and strange. I found myself rereading every paragraph, amazed, not wanting to leave behind a single word.
Tamas Dobozy, author of Siege 13, winner of the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize
Few other writers represent the confusion of modern life in a way that is as individual, light, and succinct.
Quill & Quire
Funny, thought-provoking, sometimes gutwrenching, sometimes tender, and always whimsical, these new tales by one of Canada’s most accomplished and celebrated writers will stay with you long after you reluctantly put the book down.