Fantastical, magnetic, and harsh—these are the women in Paige Cooper’s debut short story collection Zolitude. They are women who built time machines when they were nine, who buy plane tickets for lovers who won’t arrive. They are sisters writhing with dreams, blasé about sex but beggared by love—while the police horses have talons and vengeance is wrought by eagles the size of airplanes. Broken-down motorbikes and housebroken tyrannosaurs, cheap cigarettes and mail bombs—Cooper finds the beautiful and the disturbing in both the surreal and the everyday.
Troubling, carnal, and haunting, these stories are otherworldly travelogues through banal, eco-fabulist dystopias. Zolitude is a gorgeous, sad, and sexy work of slipstream and an atlas of fantastic isolation. The monstrous is human here, and tender.
Paige Cooper’s stories have appeared in The Fiddlehead, Gulf Coast, Michigan Quarterly Review, Carousel, and Canadian Notes & Queries, among others, and have been anthologized in The Journey Prize Stories, and Best Canadian Stories. She works for a record label in Montreal. Zolitude is her first book.
PRAISE FOR ZOLITUDE
"[A] spikily surreal debut collection...vivid, complex...brilliant." —Library Journal (starred review)
"Each of Zolitude's fourteen stories explores intimacy as a basic need and the ways love can be articulated, perceived, and frustrated. The result is a collection that is often astonishing and occasionally crests the extraordinary." —The Walrus
"Rarely have love stories seemed less cliché and predictable...tenderness and violence and doom are so densely layered as to deliver the affective impact of a novel...these stories are so well made, so viscerally moving, I often found the need to take a break between them to recover. "—Quill & Quire (starred review)
"Zolitude is Cooper’s first short story collection, but it reads like the work of a far more seasoned writer. Her stories are painful and wise, ugly and moving, and at their best, reveal uncomfortable truths about human connection and its limits ... With each opening paragraph, she pitches us into a new atmosphere, full of gorgeous detail and emotional rawness, a world that feels too real to be a fantasy, or perhaps just fantastic enough to be real." —Montreal Review of Books
"[A]cross fourteen stories Cooper builds strange, genre-defying, sci-fi- and fantasy-infused realities that are distinctly her own. Truly, they’re like nothing else you’ve read lately." —Toronto Star
"Zolitude is one of those books that you won't want to stop talking to people about, and I haven't. Ask anyone I know. A collection of love stories - flawed, sad, and intensely engaging - Paige Cooper's debut is devoid of cliché and predictability. I never knew where I would end up in any of the stories. It's magical. It's twisted. It's unbelievable. Go read it!" —All Lit Up
"A timely exploration of love and humanity...urgent and energetic." —Winnipeg Free Press
"Cooper proves that she can do just about anything. She's as comfortable telling a story from the perspective of a hip young record-label employee... whose hand is blown off by a mail bomb (‘Ryan & Irene, Irene & Ryan’) as she is telling the story of a mounted police officer who lives on the edge of loss and violence (‘The Emperor’) ... Readers willing to give themselves over to some mystery will be rewarded." —Kirkus
"Cooper has a keen eye for the quirks of human behavior." —Publishers Weekly
"When I read a Cooper story, “Vazova on Love” for example, I feel I have been transported into a strange country, a puzzling one, sensuous and potentially hostile, and I know she will reveal something to me if I stay very focused." —André Forget
"Paige Cooper’s finely-crafted debut collection...crackles and spits with intelligence. Cooper has honed a style that lends itself to unusual, crystalline landscapes.... Even worlds that are familiar are made strange in [her] lucid imagination." —The Arkansas International
"As strange and wonderful as the characters in these pages are, they are grounded in real emotion and experience, longing and loneliness." —Open Book "Paige Cooper's stories screw down into the earth, holding fire in their gaps. Her characters turn zero sum games into bloodsport. Zolitude will not leave you alone." —Sasha Frere-Jones
"The stories in Zolitude are dense, rich, and wildly intelligent...wrapped in perfectly wrought and unusual images." —Geography of Reading
"Zolitude is the literary equivalent of a non-stop action film. These stories are tough and visceral and fraught. Cooper’s characters – sometimes reckless, sometimes tender, always fierce – are breathtakingly fresh and wonderfully complicated. When you finish this book – about how the world marks us and how we mark ourselves – the word ‘culpability' will have new meanings. These are worlds that are keenly observed and then forged into the kind of wild and uncompromising stories the times demand." —Aislinn Hunter, author of Stay and The World Before Us
"Cooper's stories feature far-flung worlds, magnified consciousness. This is mesmerizing work.—Tamara Faith Berger, author of Maidenhead