The most common phrase in print is "cover before striking," a warning to those about to innocently strike a match to be careful not to burn their fingers.
Uppal's characters in Cover Before Striking are all people pushing their lives to new levels of intensity, danger, or passion as they test their limits and those of the world. The pyromaniac at the heart of the title story — winner of the Gloria Vanderbilt Short Fiction Prize — desperately uses fire to reconnect with lost lovers and family members. In "Vertigo," an injured Olympic athlete becomes a research guinea pig in a surreal scientific experiment. In "The Boy Next Door," a teenager recounts how her mother took her and fled Canada for Brazil, along with the local Catholic priest.
Implacable and just a little unhinged, the stories of Cover Before Striking each move toward that moment of contact when the sparks begin to fly, when destruction and beauty seem to blur together. With this collection, Priscila Uppal offers the literary equivalent of playing with fire.
About the author
Dr. Priscila Uppal is a Toronto poet, fiction writer and York University Professor. Among her publications are nine collections of poetry, most recently, Ontological Necessities (2006; shortlisted for the Griffin Poetry Prize), Traumatology (2010), Successful Tragedies: Poems 1998-2010 (Bloodaxe Books, U.K.), and Winter Sport: Poems and Summer Sport: Poems; the critically-acclaimed novels The Divine Economy of Salvation (2002) and To Whom It May Concern (2009); the study We Are What We Mourn: The Contemporary English-Canadian Elegy (2009), and the memoir Projection: Encounters with My Runaway Mother (2013; shortlisted for the Hilary Weston Prize and the Governor General's Award). Her work has been published internationally and translated into Croatian, Dutch, French, Greek, Italian, Korean and Latvian. She was the first-ever poet-in-residence for Canadian Athletes Now during the 2010 Vancouver and 2012 London Olympic and Paralympic games as well as the Roger's Cup Tennis Tournament in 2011. Six Essential Questions, her first play, had its World Premiere as part of the Factory Theatre 2013-2014 season, and will be published by Playwrights Canada Press in 2015. Time Out London recently dubbed her ÒCanada's coolest poet.' For more information visit priscilauppal.ca
In 13 strong and distinctive pieces, Uppal appears to regard the short story as a superbly elastic form and an inviting opportunity to explore familiar human circumstances from fresh angles.
Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
While the Toronto author’s focal points are traditional enough—family, love, marriage, death—the distinctive treatment she bestows on each illustrates the breadth of any given theme and Uppal’s singular talent for exploring it.
Toronto poet, playwright, and fiction writer Priscila Uppal has the kind of wild imagination that constantly makes me think she might lose control in her stories, but she doesn’t. Instead, these 13 pieces . . . tread a marvellous line between the strange and the familiar. As a collection, Cover Before Striking effectively demonstrates Uppal’s remarkable talents.
Quill & Quire