A collection of innovative and ambitious short stories from a visionary young writer
In The Dominant Animal – Kathryn Scanlan’s adventurous, unsettling debut collection –compression is key. Sentences have been relentlessly trimmed, tuned, and teased for maximum impact, and a ferocious attention to rhythm and sound results in a palpable pulse of excitability and distress. The nature of love is questioned at a golf course, a flower shop, an all-you-can-eat buffet. The clay head of a man is bought and displayed as a trophy. Interior life manifests on the physical plane, where characters – human and animal – eat and breathe, provoke and injure one another.
With exquisite control, Scanlan moves from expansive moods and fine afternoons to unease and violence – and also from deliberate and generative ambiguity to shocking, revelatory exactitude. Disturbances accrue as the collection progresses. How often the conclusions open – rather than tie – up. How they twist alertly. No mercy, a character says – and these stories are merciless and strange and absolutely masterful.
‘Kathryn Scanlan comes to us as an oracle when we have never before been so desperately in need. The truths of our human affliction divulged in these icily precise, immaculately impolite, genius-spooked stories will undo you for your own good.’ – Gary Lutz, author of Stories in the Worst Way
‘Kathryn Scanlan whittles sentences into weapons. The stories in The Dominant Animal are not cuddly; the dog jaws the baby like a bone; and humans, just as easily, gnaw at animals and other humans. Just as easily, the stories turn into poems, the wind blows through them and “scatters” us.’ – Christine Schutt, author of Pure Hollywood