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Mary's Boy, Jean-Jacques

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Vincent O’Sullivan
March 2022

In Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel, we last see Dr Frankenstein’s Creature shunned by human society and crossing the Arctic wasteland. What if he were rescued by an eccentric English expedition intent on sailing from pole to pole and back – only to be cast away again in a remote fiord in Aotearoa’s deep south?

This intriguing speculation ignites the novella that lies at the heart of Vincent O’Sullivan’s electrifying new story collection Mary’s Boy, Jean-Jacques. Elsewhere, O’Sullivan takes us deep into other times and minds. Two siblings relive a sinister memory of their childhood, an isolated young man learns to walk around the city alone, a Victorian adventurer purchases a human head, and always there is memory, like ‘Stonehenge from a choice of angles’. O’Sullivan’s new stories are wry, humane, unsparing, essential.

‘A bold and unnerving book full of mischief and wonder. O’Sullivan’s eye for why people want the wrong things is wincingly good. And always there’s the striking move from the senses and the physical world to a kind of philosophical tussle. You finish an O’Sullivan story feeling implicated and enlivened.’ —Damien Wilkins