"A heartbreaking portrait of what it means to be a man in a world where violence trumps reason, and bad decisions begin with good intentions. With wit, tenderness, and intelligence, Bull Head exposes the raw underbelly of male experience."—Gary Shteyngart, author of Super Sad True Love Story
A line-dancing aficionado visits his brother in jail in hopes of mending their relationship, and instead discovers his own unwitting role in his brother's failed life. After the death of his wife and children, a logger tries to survive the Thanksgiving weekend on his own. A delinquent teen's life is changed forever by a work-camp placement with a violent older boy. A truck driver seeks sanctuary from his abusive wife in a fantasy world of strip clubs and personal ads.
Bristling with restlessness and brutality, these linked stories set in the Pacific Northwest catapult readers into the gritty lives of social outcasts lost in purgatories of their own making. John Vigna tempers raw and at times cruel rural masculinity with graceful prose and breathtaking tenderness to illuminate the plight of men living in small towns and backwoods who belong neither to history nor the future. A startling homage to the great Southern Gothic tradition, Bull Head is a dazzling debut that heralds a powerful and exciting new literary voice.
John Vigna is an alumnus of the Iowa Writers' Workshop. His fiction and non fiction have appeared in numerous newspapers and magazines. John lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, with his wife, writer Nancy Lee.
Iowa Writers' Workshop alumnus Vigna's muscular debut transplants Southern gothic to the Pacific Northwest in eight dark tales of men and women haunted by lost partners and strained relations. Brothers berate each other, friends trash talk, and neighbors spar over beetle-infested trees. Hard, violent lives are the common denominator, and clouded resolve speaks volumes. And while there is bravado on display, Vigna also prods the underbelly of these emotions, revealing the insecurities of man. In "Short Haul," a lonesome truck driver takes to personal ads and fantasy while living with an abusive wife; "Gas Bar" finds a widower befriending a prostitute so he'll have company on Thanksgiving. Vigna effectively employs clever methods to reveal personality, from the "story within a story" of "Two-Step" to characters frequently humming, singing, and hearing honky-tonk and rock 'n' roll numbers. And while these people never cross narrative bounds, linkage comes through the town of Bull Head, the Northerner bar, an eatery named Old Elevator, and a looming mountain, a godlike figure that keeps watch over all it surveys.