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Fiction Literary

Life on Mars

by (author) Lori McNulty

Goose Lane Editions
Initial publish date
Mar 2017
Literary, Short Stories (single author)
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Mar 2017
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Mar 2017
    List Price

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Long-Shortlisted, 2018 Relit Award (Short Story Category)
Shortlisted, 2017 Danuta Gleed Literary Award
A 49th Shelf Top Fiction Book of 2017

A middle-aged sportswriter gets a new lease on life with a heart transplant and develops an intimate relationship with his donated heart. Two brothers find in their rotting family tree the tangled roots of a dark childhood memory. A young woman travels to Thailand to reconnect body and soul and returns home, physically transformed, to face the wrath of her estranged mother. A divorced man struggling to rediscover his place in the world hits the road from California to Newfoundland, guided by an irascible talking squid.

Life on Mars, Lori McNulty's wild debut collection, sears the heart with blinding black humour and whiplash fast prose. With a flawless talent for juxtaposing the absurd with the everyday, violence and discord with redemption and metamorphosis, McNulty takes readers on an unexpected ride into the core of human existence.

Blending aesthetic styles from high realism to the fable-esque, Life on Mars devours life's numbing tragedies and exhilarating passions with ravenous appetite. These are raw, moving, strange stories — an unforgettable reckoning for our disconnected times.

About the author

Lori McNulty was born in Ottawa but has called many places home. Her work has appeared in the Fiddlehead, the New Quarterly, PRISM international, the Dalhousie Review, Descant, and the Globe and Mail as well as a number of anthologies. She has twice been nominated for the Journey Prize, making the shortlist in 2014 for her story "Monsoon Season." She has also been a finalist for the CBC Short Story Prize, the CBC Creative Nonfiction Prize, and the Edna Staebler Personal Essay Contest. A global traveller and digital storyteller, she now resides in Vancouver.

Lori McNulty's profile page


  • Short-listed, Relit Award (Short Story Category)
  • Short-listed, Danuta Gleed Literary Award

Editorial Reviews

"In Life on Mars we find stoner beauty and deft fables brimming with animal grief and invective. Our characters reach slippery visions about siblings and mothers and those sad swinging doors of home that might kick you out or welcome you inside."

Mark Anthony Jarman

"Each of these stories moves like a lit fuse racing towardsa keg of dynamite. Life on Mars boldly excavates the darkness within to emerge with its characters' bloodied but still pulsing hearts held high. Lori McNulty leads her teenage stoners and cutters, her conflicted widows, her mentally ill, her sentient squids and many-armed gods to the edge of the cliff and dares them to live. This is ferocious fiction from a new master witness of life on Earth."

Zsuzsi Gartner

"Lori McNulty explores all manner of liminality in her outstanding debut fiction collection."

<i>The Fiddlehead</i>

"These narratives are fresh and startling. They confirm Lori McNulty as a writer who can roam the universe, crossing boundaries of gender, species, and even mortality, while never straying from her native terrain — that of the human heart."

K.D. Miller

"It is confirmed! There is life on Mars and it is fierce and ferocious and full of love and loneliness. Lori McNulty's stories are wise and funny and they pound with an energy that is simultaneously physical and philosophical. Get ready to go, boldly, where Canadian fiction has never been before."

Alexander MacLeod

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