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Cover for ActivAmerica (Katherine Anne Porter Prize in Short Fiction #16)

ActivAmerica (Katherine Anne Porter Prize in Short Fiction #16)

Meagan Cass


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Drawing from fairy tales, ghost stories, and science-fiction, the stories in ActivAmerica explore how we confront (and exert) power and re-imagine ourselves through sports and athletic activities. A group of girls starts an illicit hockey league in a conservative suburb. A recently separated woman must run a mile a day in order to maintain her new corporate health insurance. Children impacted by environmental disaster create a “mutant soccer team.” Two sisters are visited by an Olympic gymnast who demands increasingly dangerous moves from them. Sports allow the characters to form communities on soccer fields and hidden lakes, in overgrown backyards and across Ping-Pong tables. Throughout the collection, however, athletic risk also comes with unexpected, often unsettling results.

Praise For ActivAmerica (Katherine Anne Porter Prize in Short Fiction #16)

ActivAmerica blends bracing originality with an affecting, impish spirit to affectionately satirize our absurd nation. These stories dazzle with their oddball sensibility and quick wit, announcing Meagan Cass as a writer to watch.”—Claire Vaye Watkins, author of Gold Fame Citrus and judge

“Sports run through the stories in Megan Cass’s collection, but what distinguishes ActivAmerica most is a rich imagination, a quirky sense of humor, and an abiding interest in matters of the heart. It’s a wonderful debut.”—Joshua Henkin, author of The World Without You

"Meagan Cass explores family loneliness with exquisite sympathy and an unflinching gaze."—Brian Morton, author of Florence Gordon

"Writing short stories is a skill; every words has to count. Cass does that beautifully with her lyrical writing. There is a definite sports related theme in each story but you don't have to know or even enjoy sports to read them."--New York Journal of Books

"Cass uses sports and athleticism to draw out her characters' true mettle. . . . These characters become human in their desire to be loved and valued, and their flawed assumption that they'll get there if only they're healthier or better at a game only makes them more endearing."--Necessary Fiction

"Throughout these original and deftly crafted tales, however, athletic risk also comes with unexpected, often unsettling results. . . . Cass exhibits a natural flair for thoroughly entertaining her readers while subtly lacing underlying messages that are both reflective and thought-provoking."--Midwest Book Review

"Cass playfully blends genre elements to explore sports and athletic activities. . . . [E]ach story's true power resides in its earnestness, perceptiveness, and essential humanity."--Mid-American Review

University of North Texas Press, 9781574416947, 192pp.

Publication Date: October 23, 2017

About the Author

MEAGAN CASS is the author of the chapbook Range of Motion. Her stories have appeared in DIAGRAM, Hayden’s Ferry Review, The Pinch, Puerto del Sol, and PANK, among other places. She received her Ph.D. in English from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and her MFA in fiction from Sarah Lawrence College. An assistant professor of English at the University of Illinois Springfield, she co-curates the Shelterbelt Reading Series and serves as an assistant editor for Sundress Publications. She lives in St. Louis.