Winner, Kobo Emerging Writer Prize for Speculative Fiction
A bear runs amok in a luxury hotel. A daily swim at the local pool becomes a question of life or death. The champion of a border wall faces an unexpected adversary.
The twelve stories in Different Beasts ask what it means to be both human and monster. Shape-shifting waifs, haunted stuffies, scavenging drones, insectoid demon-gods, and mutant angels all come to life in this wildly imagined debut. As do broken soldiers, disgraced politicians, tired parents, ogres and children, opportunists, and desperate survivors — human beasts each struggling with the animalian aspects of their nature.
In this wild, fantastical, viscerally memorable debut, J. R. McConvey explores the power dynamics that undergird social relationships and crystallize into structures of fealty and worship, fear and control, aspiration and desire.
J.R. McConvey's stories have been shortlisted for the Journey Prize, the Bristol Short Story Prize, and the Matrix Lit Pop award. His work has appeared in the Malahat Review, Joyland, EVENT, the Puritan, the New Quarterly, carte blanche, filling Station, and the Feathertale Review. He is the winner of the 2016 Jack Hodgins Founders' Award for Fiction.
"In these uncanny stories, McConvey gently pulls at the seams of reality until it frays to reveal the battered heart beneath each tale. "
— Andrew F. Sullivan, author of <i>Waste</i>
"McConvey’s tales incorporate elements that push at the boundaries of style and technique and occasionally veer into the territory of horror or the supernatural. "
"Affecting, dynamic, inventive, and inexhaustibly various — J. R. McConvey's debut is a menagerie of remarkable beasts. "
— Steven Heighton, author of <i>The Nightingale Won't Let You Sleep</i>
"Each of these stories had such an ease to them that I felt like I was reading an author I’d read a thousand times. McConvey’s prose was stunning and each of the twelve snippets of these worlds he introduced me too were fascinating. "
— Steve Stred
"This is a brilliant collection. Here is the human understory, a tour through the internal wilderness of soul after troubled soul. As their maker, J. R. McConvey considers each one with a clear, unfailing gaze. More than that, he does so in language that sings. "
— Alissa York, author of <i>The Naturalist</i>
"Different Beasts made me fall in love with the craft of short stories all over again. This collection took me to places — some uncomfortable, others hearbreaking — that I wasn't expecting to go. This is the work of a writer of beastly talent, vision, and guts. "
— Brian Francis, author of <i>Break in Case of Emergency</i>
"The sometimes-blurry line between the odd and the monstrous can make for uncomfortable discoveries. And as J. R. McConvey explores in his new collection of short stories, the monstrosity doesn’t necessarily come from the oddness. . .. Like Stuart McLean channeling H. P. Lovecraft. "