Winner of the 2017 Katherine Anne Porter Prize, and now available from UNT Press!
“ActivAmerica blends bracing originality with an affecting, impish spirit to affectionately satirize our absurd nation. These stories dazzle with their oddball sensibility and quick wit, announcing Meagan Cass as a writer to watch.”—Claire Vaye Watkins, author of Gold Fame Citrus and judge
“…what distinguishes ActivAmerica most is a rich imagination, a quirky sense of humor, and an abiding interest in matters of the heart. It’s a wonderful debut.”—Joshua Henkin, author of The World Without You
“Meagan Cass explores family loneliness with exquisite sympathy and an unflinching gaze.” —Brian Morton, author of Florence Gordon
“Cass navigates suburban stasis in a way that feels new and deeply lived in; the brightest stories in this collection interrogate privilege and systems of power…Sports becomes a lens to refract American culture and intuitional exclusions–of the fat, of the poor, of the non-conforming.” —Mid-American Review
“ActivAmerica is filled with stories like this, character sketches that take place in fantastic worlds, be they filled with mutants, ghosts, orphans, or divorcées, anyone on the fringe who has to overcome an extra pile of shit because they feel just a bit different. It’s a terribly fun collection to read, the scope of Cass’s imagination and heart both seemingly limitless.” —Michael Czyzniejewski, Story 366
“How do you be the best version of yourself if you can’t even recognize what you’ve become? ActivAmerica is, above all else, a book about achievement where achievement is not expected or allowed. –Ryan Werner, Heavy Feather Review.
“Throughout these original and deftly crafted tales, however, athletic risk also comes with unexpected, often unsettling results. Winner of the Katherine Anne Porter Prize In Short Fiction, Meagan Cass exhibits a natural flair for thoroughly entertaining her readers while subtly lacing underlying messages that are both reflective and thought-provoking. “—Midwest Book Review
These characters become human in their desire to be loved and valued, and their flawed assumption that they’ll get there if only they’re healthier or better at a game only makes them more endearing.”–Peter Biello, Necessary Fiction
“the stories in Meagan Cass’ “ActivAmerica” collection are inventive, nostalgic and often-eerie narratives that highlight the central role that athletics and competition play in North American lives.”—Christina Wood, “Ten Innovative Women Writers from the Heartland,” Alive Magazine
“There is a definite sports related theme in each story but you don’t have to know or even enjoy sports to read them. A touch of mythology, sci-fi and supernatural adds to each story’s unique voice and structure.”—Meera Klein, New York Journal of Books
Drawing from fairy tales, ghost stories, and science-fiction, the stories in ActivAmerica explore how we confront (and exert) power and re-imagine ourselves through sports and athletic activities. A group of girls starts an illicit hockey league in a conservative suburb. A recently separated woman must run a mile a day in order to maintain her new corporate health insurance. Children impacted by environmental disaster create a “mutant soccer team.” Two sisters are visited by an Olympic gymnast who demands increasingly dangerous moves from them. Sports allow the characters to form communities on soccer fields and hidden lakes, in overgrown backyards and across Ping-Pong tables. Throughout the collection, however, athletic risk also comes with unexpected, often unsettling results.