What Makes You Think You’re Awake? by Maegan Poland

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“This collection is a delight in that Poland has created worlds and characters that are anything but delightful and she does not wince.

Reminiscent of Moshfegh’s penchant for describing the grossest aspects of being human, Poland imbues her stories with the unabashed darkness, depravity, and realities of being alive. Many of the stories center around the body: its wants, its disgust, its needs, its functions and betrayals.

Characters brush up against what they perceive as their body’s betrayal—chronic illness, nervousness over a new language, the aftermath of assault—and the loneliness that has resulted from their distrust. Eventually, they must choose between letting go and holding on to that distrust (and sometimes revulsion). And then there’s the twist: it isn’t really about the choice they make, which is often poor or even dangerous; it’s about how they react to it.

These stories are a tour of the body’s realities and limitations, of its sour letdowns and the shocking sparks that empower us to keep going.”

<3Miranda

Debut story collection by Maegan Poland selected by Carmen Maria Machado for the Bakwin Award

Winner of the Bakwin Award. Final contest judge and award-winning author Carmen Maria Machado (Her Body and Other Parties) described the work as “a wonderful debut; a collection of frank, funny, and heartbreaking stories that delve into the mire of human loneliness.”

Poland’s stories usher in a world where mortal fear, the threat of violation, and the body’s looming betrayal drive us to look beyond surface appearances. In these stories, readers will find: a mosquito-borne illness invading a small southern town, forcing its inhabitants to negotiate their lust against the threats of virus-induced paralysis; a pair of newlyweds on their honeymoon at a luxury resort whose automated services quickly turn menacing; a woman whose backyard shed freezes time, forcing her to decide between her need for love and her need for escape. Poland’s stories move among richly imagined landscapes, bringing to life the deep loneliness at the heart of the modern condition and the ephemerality of the bridges we build against the dark.

What Makes You Think You’re Awake? by Maegan Poland
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