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Nightwood Editions
6 x 9 – 232 pages
Paperback – $19.95
October 2017


“This is a wonderful first collection. The Shelstadian universe turns out to be impossibly shy, yet daring, impeccably nutty, yet wise. And in the way of Vonnegut and Saunders, heartbreaking.”

—Bill Gaston, author of Gargoyles and A Mariner’s Guide to Self Sabotage


“Sam Shelstad is a short story sorcerer.”

—Lee Henderson, author of The Road Narrows As You Go and The Man Game


“These marvellously surprising and inventive stories look at the everyday so keenly that it distorts. But it’s this very warpiness that leads us to feel with such insight and sensitivity the heartbreak and tenderness, the hopes, sadness, dislocations, creativity and mad energy of the times. Maybe the world is strange. Maybe we humans are, too. But, as in the fiction of the great American parabalist, George Saunders, even while we scratch or shake or clutch our own incredulous heads, we understand us and we grow to care deeply.”

—Gary Barwin, author of Yiddish for Pirates


Cop House is a collection of stories about when we desperately try to recapture—or replace—the things we’ve lost. There are secret vacations, library book fetishes, an unusual exchange for protection from teenage vandals, and a doomsday cult operating out of an aquatic centre. An exiled polar bear spies on his old community and fights to survive in unfamiliar territory. A man campaigns to keep the sitcom Friends on the air after the collapse of his family. A masochistic deer wants to feel something other than the slow digestion of cud.

Infused with dark humour, each of the sixteen stories included in the collection explores the absurdity of life when the things that really matter are placed just out of reach.


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