Welcome to the Circus
May 1, 2015
Shortlisted for the 2016 ReLit Award
Finalist, 2016 Ottawa Fiction Book Award
Rhonda Douglas’s debut collection dazzles with its daring and dangerous prose. Welcome to the Circus, where every moment is a tightrope act, precariously balancing on the edge of destruction.
In these stories, a choir processes its collective grief at the loss of one of its members to cancer; a teenage boy marks himself with the poetry of John Donne; God explains the collapse of the cod fishery; Mata Hari stands trial; and two sisters try to reconcile their respective places in the family porn emporium business before everything blows up.
These ten strikingly original stories explore love and escape — how we escape to love, escape through love, and escape ourselves and hold on to love. Together, the stories of Welcome to the Circus highlight the courageous, acrobatic circus acts we all learn to perform in search of love.
“Rhonda Douglas’s Welcome to the Circus does what great short story collections do: just when you think you’re safe, caught in the ebb and flow of strong narrative, the stories surprise you with a shift of the bare and the raw, each with those flashes of insight that are most akin to the spotlit reveal of nakedness. It has perhaps the best thing that you can say about any collection: they may be stories, but they read like truth. With a vast breadth of style, from Paleolithic romance to the spare desperate needs of a businesslike sex club, Welcome to the Circus delivers. These are stories worth waiting for, and worth thinking about.” — Russell Wangersky, author of Whirl Away
“Rhonda Douglas has a knack for making the bizarre seem reasonable and deeply human. A resurrected Neandertal, a Job Creator of the Year pornographer, a John Donne obsessed cutter, God — these are just a few of the surprising characters in her circus. This funny, moving debut is a show you won’t want to miss.” — Caroline Adderson, author of Ellen in Pieces
“Pitch perfect . . . a triumph of understated execution.” — Joan Thomas, author of The Opening Sky (Prairie Fire jury comments)
REVIEWS AND INTERVIEWS
Interview in PRISM Magazine, December 2, 2015.
Interview with Writer’s Block, CJSW 90.9 FM, May 2015.
“I close the book and weep freely as the rain drives down. Yet rather than depressing me, Welcome to the Circus by Rhonda Douglas is a joyful, whole-bodied read immersing me in a breathtaking range of human experiences.” – The Winnipeg Review, May 26, 2015.
Interview with the Calgary Herald, May 12, 2015.
“These are bright and shiny stories with an edge, like a knife-blade, in the manner of Zsuzsi Gartner, whom many of them put me in mind of—which is high praise. This is a fabulous, enthralling, exuberant book, and I think you should read it.” – Pickle Me This, April 28, 2015.
“Refreshing and audacious.” – Apt613, April 27, 2015.
Interview with Open Book Ontario, April 14, 2015.
“This debut short story collection from Douglas contains 10 stories, all of which bubble with originality and daring. Douglas captures the voices of her characters perfectly within the different forms her stories take. . . . This is an exhilarating read.” – Publishers Weekly, February 16, 2015.