Super Secret Festival of Lit: Short Stories

December 7, 2015

It's Day Four of our  Super Secret Festival of Lit mystery title reveals! Our short story pick is a debut collection that covers the fundamentals of relationships of all kinds – love, work, family, sex – with a wisdom and insight that will hit readers in the feels. Buy any one of our selected Short Story reads from now until December 18th and receive a free set of four CanLit holiday cards.

Drum roll please...

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Pauls by Jess Taylor (BookThug)

What It’s About

Coincidences, relationships, conversations, and friendships all pose more questions than answers in this collection of interconnected stories. We meet various people named Paul, seeing the world as they see it but also what remains unseen to them. Taylor manages to balance heavy themes with humour, irony, and a contemporary tone. Learn More.

*Get a sneak peek at Pauls by watching this video of Jess Taylor read from her book at the fall BookThug launch.

Why We Chose It

This was a highly anticipated debut by Jess Taylor, who won the 2013 National Magazine Awards for the title story of the collection. It made it onto our staff fall preview list and didn’t disappoint so there was a clear winner when we were deciding on our short story mystery title.

Who Would Love This Book

Readers who like lively short fiction that focuses attention on themes of identity, relationships, and love. And anyone who loves a Paul (or is named Paul). If you need more convincing, you can watch the preview:




Reviews & Media

“For an author who’ll turn 30 four years from now, Taylor exhibits remarkable insights into matters of the fickle heart.” — Toronto Star

"A magical and penetrating collection of strange, mundane, traumatized and ecstatic people who are all named Paul. Its simple sentences are little atoms of wonder." — Heather O'Neill, author of The Girl Who Was Saturday Night and Lullabies for Little Criminals


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For those readers who can't get enough short stories, here's four more picks:



Dance Moves of the Near Future by Tim Conley (New Star Books)

What It’s About

Dance Moves of the Near Future is a collection of absurdly fantastic and surreal stories that share a wicked sense of humour, and a piercing eye for human (and inhuman) fallibility. How does he achieve this? According to Jade Colbert of the Globe & Mail, “It’s part storytelling prowess, part hitting the sweet spot between realism and the weird (and the weird is almost always played straight), part dedication to the aesthetic as overriding function.” Learn more.

Why We Chose It

Conley has created a collection that is fun and interesting; it is a literary treat to readers that want to escape to a world where anything can happen. And isn’t that one of the best reasons to read something?

Who Would Love This Book

The ideal reader of Dance Moves of the Near Future is smart and funny, loves short stories, and has a healthy appreciation for fantastic and surreal characters, events, and ideas.



Debris by Kevin Hardcastle (Biblioasis)

What It’s About

The eleven stories in Debris unflinchingly explore the lives of small-town folks from criminals to MMA fighters, who exist on the fringes of society, unveiling the blood and guts and beauty of life. With tinges of horror and a lot of suspense, Debris is a finely crafted collection that you won’t want to put down. Learn more. 

Why We Chose It

We see many books every season by debut authors but rarely do they come with endorsements like Debris. With this much high praise, we knew it had to be good. And it was. Like any reader with a newly discovered literary treasure, we’re going to tell everyone we know until they listen.

“[Debris] has flesh and bone, soul and brain. It’s a rare, rock-solid first book by … a dexterous writer with unflinching vision...” — Alix Hawley, National Post

“Hardcastle does darkness well; heartbreaking endings come naturally to him. Everyone gets hurt, but everything makes sense, and the storytelling is so good — the language, a soothing balm for the pain.” — John Irving, author of The Cider House Rules

“Debris carves straight to a reader’s gut, and more importantly to their heart...” — Craig Davidson, author of Rust and Bone

Who Would Love This Book

For literary readers, Debris is a collection of stories for those who are interested in reading an honest take on the humanity of violence and compassion. To quote PRISM International, “Reviews of this book will no doubt allude to the ‘muscularity’ of the prose and liken Hardcastle to other writers in the country-noir tradition, but Debris earns its place as a book among books, deserving of even the most serious literary reader’s praise.”



The Pull of the Moon by Julie Paul (Brindle & Glass)

What It’s About

In each of the twelve stories in Julie Paul’s second collection, characters are at the impetus of change. They feel the pull of something outside themselves that is compelling them to act. It’s not always a good thing and the way forward isn’t always clear but that’s what makes these stories so interesting and the characters so human. Plus it’s funny. Learn more.

Why We Chose It

The Pull of the Moon won the 2015 City of Victoria Butler Book Prize and was selected as one of the Globe & Mail’s top 100 picks of 2014. In addition to that high praise, Paul manages to tap into an aspect of human nature we’ve all experienced – that feeling when you discover something about someone you thought you knew – and she does so with beautiful turns of phrase.

Who Would Love This Book

Julie Paul's stories are humorous, alarming, touching, and unsettling—a reader who appreciates surprises, whether good or bad, will enjoy Paul's well-drawn characters, beautifully described settings, and exquisitely told stores. 



And to Say Hello by Scott Randall (DC Books)

What It’s About

From two-time Journey Prize nominee Scott Randall comes thirteen stories about parenthood. Sometimes funny, sometimes a little too real, these stories highlight the complexities of being responsible for the care and development of a tiny human; both the immediate changes and struggles that arise during new parenthood and the long-term permanent traces that all that stress and love can have on a person. Learn more.

Why We Chose It

And to Say Hello won this year’s English fiction prize at the Ottawa Book Awards as well as receiving the gold medal for best fiction from Eastern Canada by the US Independent Publishers Book Awards.  

Who Would Love This Book

Parenthood is a community that many people find themselves a part of during their lifetime. And it’s a lifetime membership. This collection will appeal to readers who have lived similar experiences and maybe to those that aren’t a member of this particular community but are interested to learn more.


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We're halfway through revealing each of our eight mystery titles! Get caught up on our Super Secret Festival of Lit  here. Buy any one of these titles from now until December 18th and receive a free set of four CanLit holiday cards.


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