Catapult, Emily Fridlund
Kirkus Reviews, "100 Best Fiction Books of 2017"
O, The Oprah Magazine, "Ten Titles to Pick Up Now"
W Magazine, "10 Books to Read Right Now"
Washington Post, "9 Short-Story Collections We Can't Wait to Read This Fall"
Chicago Review of Books, "15 Must-Read Books This October"
Poets & Writers, "Page One: Where New and Noteworthy Books Begin"
Buzzfeed, "28 Exciting New Books You Need To Read This Fall"
The Masters Review, "17 Books We're Looking Forward To This Year"
Selected by Ben Marcus as winner of the Mary McCarthy Prize in Short Fiction, Catapult follows Emily Fridlund's acclaimed debut novel History of Wolves. Sometimes calculating, at other times bewildered, Catapult's characters orbit around each other, enacting a deeply human tragicomedy of wit, misunderstanding, and loss. With dexterous, atmospheric, and darkly comic prose, Fridlund conjures worlds where longing is open-ended, intentions misfire, and the line between comfort and cruelty is often difficult to discern. This is a gripping collection, unsettling as much in its familiarity as in its near-gothic strangeness.
Emily Fridlund grew up in Minnesota and currently resides in the Finger Lakes region of New York. Her fiction has appeared in a variety of journals, including Boston Review, Zyzzyva, Five Chapters, New Orleans Review, and elsewhere. Fridlund's first novel, History of Wolves (Atlantic Monthly Press), was a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Selection and a #1 Indie Next pick.
Praise for Catapult
"Eleven stories of misshapen families and broken friendships disturb and unsettle. Fridlund follows History of Wolves (2017), her marvelous and preternaturally accomplished first novel, with a collection of jarring and polished short fiction. The craft is evident in the perfect titles and the observational acuity of the sentences. . . .Her stories evoke Flannery O'Connor's masterly way with grotesquery but deviate in Fridlund's contempt for faith. Bracing, often brilliant stories deliver a shock to the routine narratives we tell."
—Kirkus Reviews, starred review
"Here comes a powerhouse of a first story collection notable for its temerity and its skilled combination of humor and insight. Awarded the Mary McCarthy Prize in Short Fiction by Ben Marcus (who praised its 'piercing' wisdom and 'destabilizing insight'), this is — seriously — a laugh-out-loud collection as wise as it is funny. "
—The New York Times, "Other People's Minds: Four New Story Collections"
"This powerhouse of a first collection . . . is notable for its deft mix of humor and insight. "
—The New York Times Book Review, Editors' Choice, "7 New Books We Recommend This Week"
“Eleven brilliant short stories showcase childhood, adolescence, marriage, and families, and how the appearances of these events and relationships in life can hide the strangeness and emptiness that pervade beneath the surface. . . . Fridlund unpacks these situations with such thoughtful diction and complex characters that her subdued and controlled language sets what is unsaid at the fore, unveiling hope, despair, and the paradoxes that are often ignored in such close relationships. Fridlund’s intelligent and conversational voice impressively manipulates the emotional atmosphere of her stories.”
—Booklist, starred review
“Fridlund’s ability to conjure humor in the darkest moments is clear in her blending of sitcom set-ups with bleak undercurrents. Her breathtaking prose and sly expressions make for compulsive reading.”
“The stories in this collection are magical, not because they're otherworldly—most are set in Fridlund's former home state of Minnesota—but because you can't see how she does it. Does she charm with the casually mentioned strange artifacts, such as the pterodactyl-shaped slippers or the birthday candles lit in a loaf of bread? How does the narrator sound so distantly authoritative, yet stay inside the protagonist's head? . . .Memorable and a joy to read.”
—The Library Journal
“[Catapult is] a kind of tasting menu showcasing Fridlund's stark, dissonant voice. Her descriptions blindside you with rude audacity. . . . Story after story replenishes Fridlund's flinty, wistful vision."
—The San Francisco Chronicle
“The 11 stories in Emily Fridlund's slim collection, Catapult . . . reveal the coiled, uncanny power that propelled her debut novel, History of Wolves, onto the Man Booker Prize shortlist."
—The Atlantic, "The Propulsive Power of Catapult"
“[Fridlund is] a remarkable writer."
“Emerging talent Emily Fridlund explores a dark and eerie side of human nature in Catapult, stepping into Gothic territory while generously weaving humor and moments of comic truth into her characters. . . . Fridlund’s sophomore effort, published by edgy indie press Sarabande, is the kind of book that readers who crave riskier, more experimental, and out-there storytelling will appreciate.”
—W Magazine, “10 Books to Read Right Now”
"Startlingly emotional short stories."
—Martha Stewart Living, December 2017 issue
“The collection centers on the hard, ugly parts about relationships ranging from familial to romantic. Fridlund pairs her writing with complex characters who evoke a sense of shock with the familiar.”
—The Washington Post, “9 Short-Story Collections We Can’t Wait to Read This Fall”
"The sentence-level craft is near perfect in spinning tales of broken friendships and misshapen families. . . .Fans of Flannery O'Connor will appreciate the mastery of the grotesque, even without O'Connor's spiritual underpinnings."
—Newsday, "Great books that deserved more buzz in 2017"
"Fridlund has already proven herself to be a singular talent."
"An uneasy, but exhilarating, expectation of trouble ahead is manifest in her sharp and exquisite prose, which is carefully crafted to do the most damage in the most economical way."
"Catapult...burrows under the skin to reveal what hurts the most...This collection is as intelligent as it is incisive."
—The Masters Review
"[These] are stories that mimic domestic realism in order to short circuit the genre, to critique its familiarity and lack of imagination with a thousand subtle subversions. . . . The entries in Catapult do not critique storytelling for merely contrarian purposes, but instead offer an acknowledgement of the true, terrifying capacities of literature, this medium that most closely approximates the supernatural acts of creation and conversion. There’s a latent moral in this recognition: that we should at all times wield this magical power with full cognizance and conscientiousness—or at least accept the resultant fallout."
"[Catapult] is a collection of stories that pulse and push...Fridlund keenly observes the scrapes of the everyday, recasting these narratives with new, vividly drawn characters that surprise and disturb."
—The Arkansas International, "Capsule Reviews"
"Fridlund writes exceptional character-driven fiction, and her stories bristle with a menacing domestic intensity that few writers can capture."
—Sinkhole Magazine, "Under the Microscope,"
"It's not often you find a collection of stories that's sharp and surprising and familiar all at once—it's like entering a room full of family members with whom you are close but have not seen in years. Emily Fridlund takes the time to step inside the minds of these familial-yet-foreign characters, and it is a pleasure."
"Fridlund’s writing—deft and observant, pockmarked with little bursts of joyful description—will pull you forward."
—The East Bay Review, "Review: Catapult by Emily Fridlund,"
"Fridlund writes of families, marriage, and childhood as if our received wisdom—what we thought we knew about life and love and family—needs reparation. This is fiction as excavation, peeling away the machinery of people and converting it to narrative. Fridlund shines a spotlight on what gets hidden and unreported, and the result can be overwhelming—cutting and funny and filled with difficult truth."
—Ben Marcus, author of The Flame Alphabet
“Readers who finished Emily Fridlund’s History of Wolves hungry for more of the author’s frosty, measured, and captivating style can rejoice! With Catapult, Fridlund proves she can fill the small space of a short story with as much depth, and suspense, as she managed in her debut novel. Fans will notice a continuity of Fridlund’s interests and concerns—the stringency of belief systems still vex her characters; faith, religious and otherwise, is still the axis upon which Fridlund’s characters turn—and new readers will find in these stories the presence of a powerful voice.”
—John Francisconi, Bank Square Books, Mystic, CT
Past Praise for Emily Fridlund
“[A] stellar debut . . . A sense of foreboding subtly permeates the story . . . [the] wordsmithing is fantastic, rife with vivid turns of phrase. Fridlund has elegantly crafted a striking protagonist whose dark leanings cap off the tragedy at the heart of this book, which is moving and disturbing, and which will stay with the reader.”
—Publishers Weekly, starred boxed review
“The writing is beautiful . . . a triumph of tone and attitude. Lovers of character-driven literary fiction will embrace this.”
—Booklist, starred review
“An atmospheric, near-gothic coming-of-age novel turns on the dance between predator and prey . . . Fridlund is an assured writer . . . The novel has a tinge of fairy tale, wavering on the blur between good and evil, thought and action. But the sharp consequences for its characters make it singe and sing—a literary tour de force.”
—Kirkus Reviews, starred review
“An artful story of sexual awakening and identity formation . . . a novel of ideas that reads like smart pulp, a page-turner of craft and calibration.”
—New York Times Book Review
“Electrifying . . . History of Wolves isn’t a typical thriller any more than it’s a typical coming-of-age novel; Fridlund does a remarkable job transcending genres without sacrificing the suspense that builds steadily in the book . . . [it] is as beautiful and as icy as the Minnesota woods where it’s set, and with her first book, Fridlund has already proven herself to be a singular talent.”
“A compelling portrait of a troubled adolescent trying to find her way in a new and frightening world.”
—People Magazine, “Five Best New Books”
“The chilly power of History of Wolves packs a wallop that’s hard to shake off . . . an elegant, troubling debut, both immersed in the natural world but equally concerned with issues of power, family, faith and the gap between understanding something and being able to act on the knowledge.”
—Los Angeles Times
“This captivating debut from a prodigious new talent injects taut suspense into a teenage girl’s awakenings as she confronts a web of mysteries in the chilly woods of Minnesota. A lavishly written novel with more than a glimmer of dread.”
—O, The Oprah Magazine, “10 Titles to Pick Up Now”