One of the Globe and Mail's "Sixty-Two Books to Read This Fall" • Listed in CBC Books Fiction to Read in Fall 2023
"A writer to watch."—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
A girl receives a bedtime visit from a drunken party guest, who will haunt her fantasies for years. A young mother discovers underneath the wallpaper a striking portrait that awakens inconvenient desires. A divorced man distracts himself from the mess he’s made by flirting with a stranger. These intimate, immersive stories explore life's watershed moments, in which seemingly insignificant details—a pot of hyacinths, a freshly painted yellow wall—and the most chance of encounters come to exert a tidal pull. Set in the swinging sixties and each decade since, Cocktail reveals the schism between the lives we build up around us and our deepest hidden selves.
About the author
Lisa Alward's stories have won The Fiddlehead Prize and the Peter Hinchcliffe Short Fiction Award and have appeared in Best Canadian Stories as well as The Journey Prize Stories. She grew up in Halifax and worked for several years in literary publishing in Toronto before moving with her family to Vancouver and ultimately to Fredericton, where she lives with her husband, John.
Praise for Cocktail
"With a coolly dispassionate voice, Alward views the small horrors of domesticity, [...] and turns them into stories whose implications reverberate far beyond the walls of any home."
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"A Canadian writer to watch."
—Deborah Dundas, Toronto Star
"This collection of twelve pristine short stories might best be described as small snapshots of lives shadowed by disquietude. The writing is crisp, accomplished and assured, and the characters are vividly and sympathetically drawn, as they experience the emotional convolutions of individuals struggling between that which they believe to be right and that which they desire."
"Lisa Alward has succeeded in producing a collection that is completely enjoyable"
—Winnipeg Free Press
"Fireflies glow brightly then extinguish themselves, leaving only the ghost of a trace to mark their passage. The stories in Alward’s collection are similarly evanescent, but their potency lies in their precise style and compactness. This is a collection to savour."
—Steven Beattie, That Shakespearean Rag
"Comprised of exceptional works of literary and emotional precision, Cocktail showcases author Lisa Alward's genuine and imaginative flair for the kind of narrative driven storytelling style that is as engaging as it is memorable."
—Midwest Book Review
"Alward sets her protagonists down at personal crossroads so astutely observed that it is impossible to look away. We watch with hope, amusement, and dismay, but also—and this is her uncanny power as a storyteller—with the disquieting sense that we, too, have been caught in the mirror."
—Anne Marie Todkill, author of Orion Sweeping
"The stories in Lisa Alward's Cocktail are small wonderments, marked by their intense focus on the telling interplay between wives and husbands, children and parents, and intimate strangers that recalls the early work of Alice Munro."
—Craig Davidson, author of The Saturday Night Ghost Club