Winner of the Bakwin Award. Final contest judge and award-winning author Carmen Maria Machado (Her Body and Other Parties) described the work as “a wonderful debut; a collection of frank, funny, and heartbreaking stories that delve into the mire of human loneliness.”
Poland’s stories usher in a world where mortal fear, the threat of violation, and the body’s looming betrayal drive us to look beyond surface appearances. In these stories, readers will find: a mosquito-borne illness invading a small southern town, forcing its inhabitants to negotiate their lust against the threats of virus-induced paralysis; a pair of newlyweds on their honeymoon at a luxury resort whose automated services quickly turn menacing; a woman whose backyard shed freezes time, forcing her to decide between her need for love and her need for escape. Poland’s stories move among richly imagined landscapes, bringing to life the deep loneliness at the heart of the modern condition and the ephemerality of the bridges we build against the dark.
- The Shed
- Like the Love of Some Dead Girl
- Overnights Welcome
- What Makes You Think You’re Awake Right Now?
"What Makes You Think You're Awake? is a wonderful debut; a collection of frank, funny, and heartbreaking stories that delve into the mire of human loneliness." —Carmen Maria Machado, In the Dream House and Her Body and Other Parties
"What Makes You Think You’re Awake? invites us into an uncanny, atmospheric world, where violence lurks under the surface of daily life and portals abound, beckoning characters into the midnight logic of the surreal. Maegan Poland’s surprising, incisive, and powerfully imaginative stories make for an unforgettable debut."—Laura van den Berg, I Hold a Wolf by the Ears
"This is my favorite kind of collection, beautifully written and full of surprises. Maegan Poland is a terrific new talent. Her stories make strange normal and normal strange."—Tom Franklin, Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter
"Maegan Poland's strange and extraordinary short stories exist in a world like ours but not quite: a shed can literally stop time, a nest burns down to barbed wire, solar flares knock out the power, and a pandemic doesn’t quite put a damper on infidelity. All is not well in this world where Poland's characters, straight and queer, struggle with trauma and loneliness while searching for love and connection. What Makes You Think You're Awake? is a prescient and eerie collection that perfectly captures the surreal quality of our times." —May-lee Chai, Useful Phrases for Immigrants, winner of the American Book Award
"Reading one of Maegan Poland’s stories feels like walking through a familiar place at dusk with a bright flashlight in one hand and a big, beautiful magnifying glass in the other. Everything you see is so clear, so fine. So much closer than before. And so hard to look up from. But later, when you do, you are surrounded by darkness, even—especially—after you finish reading."—Maile Chapman, Your Presence Is Requested at Suvanto