The highly anticipated new book of short fiction from the O. Henry Prize winner Alexander MacLeod—a magnificent collection about the needs, temptations, and tensions that exist just beneath the surface of our lives.
Startling, suspenseful, and deeply humane, yet alert to the undertow of our darker instincts, the eight stories in Animal Person illuminate what it means to exist in the perilous space between desire and action, and to have your faith in what you hold true buckle and give way.
A petty argument between two sisters is interrupted by an unexpected visitor. Adjoining motel rooms connect a family on the brink of a new life with a criminal whose legacy will haunt them for years to come. A connoisseur of other people’s secrets is undone by what he finds in a piece of lost luggage. In the wake of a tragic accident, a young man must contend with what is owed to the living and to the dead. And in the O. Henry Prize–winning story “Lagomorph,” a man’s relationship with his family’s long-lived pet rabbit opens up to become a profound exploration of how a marriage fractures.
Muscular and tender, beautifully crafted, and alive with an elemental power, these stories explore the struggle for meaning and connection in an age when many of us feel cut off from so much, not least ourselves. This is a collection that beats with raw emotion and shimmers with the complexity of our shared human experience, and it confirms Alexander MacLeod’s reputation as a modern master of the short story.
"The tales in this exquisite collection, set largely in Canada, are expertly paced and finely observed . . . [Macleod's] eye is severe but not unfair, venerating the mingled beauty and horror of entangled existences." —Mike Peed, The New York Times Book Review
"A brilliant collection . . . Macleod offers piercing insights into how his characters see themselves in relation to their families. This is a winner." —Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)
"Meticulous . . . MacLeod’s second collection abounds with crystallized moments in time." —Kirkus Reviews
"The eight stories in “Animal Person” are deceptive . . . MacLeod writes with an almost colloquial style, easy-going and easy-reading. This straightforwardness obscures just how complex these stories are, leaving them to explode within the reader’s mind and heart." —Robert J. Wiersema, The Toronto Star
"Engrossing . . . Populated by family and acquaintances of all stripes, MacLeod's sly tales find characters reconsidering present assumptions and the unknown expanses of their own futures and those of the worlds they inhabit." —Leah Strauss, Booklist
"These stories center on moments—some dramatic, some seemingly small—when lives are altered irrevocably. MacLeod is a gifted stylist, and all the more impressive for his subtlety. While each story in Animal Person is memorable, “The Closing Date” is the volume’s masterpiece, and one of the most powerful and unnerving stories I have ever read." —Ron Rash, author of In the Valley
“Animal Person is easily the most compelling and captivating collection of short fiction that I have read in many, many years. It is humorous, suspenseful, compassionate, entertaining, mysterious, even wise, but it is also a book that doesn’t shrink from plucking the chord of anxiety that has become the bass note thrumming in the twenty-first century. A virtuoso performance by a writer in the vanguard of contemporary short story writers.” —Guy Vanderhaeghe, author of August into Winter
“Alexander MacLeod is a writer of extraordinary subtlety. The pleasure in these stories is as much in the journey as the destination.” —David Bezmozgis, author of Immigrant City
“A talent so vivid.” —Souvankham Thammavongsa, author of How to Pronounce Knife
“These tender, funny and ever-surprising stories all hint, in one way or another, at the impermanence of everything--and how impossible that impermanence always seems when you're caught up in the pulsating bloodstream of life." —Lynn Coady, author of Hellgoing