Shortlisted, 2017 Danuta Gleed Literary Award
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 faultless 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 that range from high realism to the fable-esque, Life on Mars exhumes life's numbing tragedies and exhilarating passions with ravenous appetite. These are raw, moving, strange stories — an unforgettable reckoning for our disconnected times.
"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."
"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."
"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."
"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."