Synopses & Reviews
"Like Down to This: Squalor and Splendour in a Big-City Shantytown, an account of the author's undercover year in Toronto's Tent City, Bishop-Stall's debut novel breaks hearts. Emotionally damaged by childhood and adolescent traumas, druggie drifter and alcoholic gambler Mason Dubisee pushes the 'Dogfather' hot dog cart in downtown Toronto during the day and sporadically tackles his stalled novel at night. Between his agonizingly described hangovers, Mason also writes suicide notes for various disturbed personalities. He falls in desperate love with Willy, a hemiplegic with a heart of gold and a heroin habit of her own, and runs afoul of a psychopathic prisoner on parole, who steals Mason's file from Mason's sometime shrink, who has serious problems of her own. Bishop-Stall's gritty, experimental style and grungy subject matter may turn off some readers, but his occasionally inchoate if conventional message about the 'toughness and grace' of people who have saved one another will resonate with many. (Oct.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
Praise for Ghosted
"In spirit of Bishop-Stall's poker-playing protagonist, I made a bet with the author that I could wrap up my review with a four-word sentence capable of encapsulating the 'terrifying,' 'pissed-off,' 'life-affirming,' 'hung-over' quality of Ghosted. I've lost that bet." Jeff Charis-Carlson, Iowa City Press-Citizen
This master of immersion journalism opts to give us a novel about a young man who makes a living writing suicide notes. Yes please.” The National Post, Most Anticipated Books of 2010”
Grimly funny, terrifying and tender.” Montreal Mirror
The unique voice heard throughout Ghosted is so heartbreakingly authentic. This is a voice whose wry tones are surely as addictive as the drugs abused by the tormented characters in Ghosted. This is a story that you never want to end.” The Ottawa Citizen
It leaves you stunned. But then you realize you have just read a terrifying but moving and life-affirming paean to love, friendship, devotion, determination and all those other characteristics that make human beings such wonderfully fascinating creatures in real life and in richly imagined novels like Ghosted.” The Edmonton Journal
The characters of Ghosted compose a rogues gallery like no other. Most are drug addicted, hopelessly self-destructive, dangerously suicidal or just plain psychotic . . . It is exceedingly difficult to top a hotdog-selling, poker-playing, cocaine-addicted writer of suicide notes whose adventurous, bar-hopping girlfriend Willy is partially paralyzed, confined to a wheelchair and addicted to heroin.” Calgary Herald
In Ghosted, love and friendship are real and just as powerful as addiction and nightmares. Despite what the narrator might say, redemption isn't just something confined to bad novels.” Winnipeg Free Press
Bishop-Stall is a major talent. His prose is so vivid, youll feel the coke seeping down the back of your throat even if youve never done a line in your life . . . an unarguably unique voice, urgent and impossible to ignore.” Now Magazine
A savage, heartfelt, exhilarating first novel . . . What makes this high-concept premise work is the books a) heart, and b) voice. Which may, in the final analysis, be one and the same thing.” Toro Magazine
One finishes Ghosted amazed by Shaughnessy Bishop-Stalls ability to cram three or four novels worth of incident and characters into one book. Impressive, ambitious and exhausting, Ghosted is a novel for those who dont scare easily.” Globe and Mail
Ghosted is not for the faint of heartin places it's an unflinching exploration of depravity. But it is, above all, an often funny, always optimistic parable of victory over demons of despair, the ghosts of our failed selves.” Linden MacIntyre, author of The Bishops Man
Bukowski craggy and Hornby sweet . . . a smart book about smart guys who cant stop from acting dumb. The real pleasure, though, is in the lines: funny sad, funny strange, and funny zing! A hell of a first novel.” Andrew Pyper, author of The Killing Circle and Lost Girls
Growing up, Mason Dubisee had a hundred future selves: Jedi. Cowboy. Jedi-cowboy. Explorer. Rock star. Sandinista-Gandhi-Hemingway-Indiana-Jones type thing. But at thirty, he must finally face the truth: Hes a drug-addled drifter, an aspiring novelist unable to move beyond lists of titles and themes.
Desperate, he takes a job as The Dogfather”a downtown hot dog vendor. When a mysterious customer hires him to write a very personal letter, he stumbles into a shadow career, ghostwriting suicide notes for the despondent. The gig helps cover his gambling debts but takes an emotional toll. The trouble is, Mason is hardwired to rescue people, and no one needs rescuing more than the suicidal. Except maybe Willy, the heroin-addicted beauty hes falling for.
What happens when someone wrestling with his own demons immerses himself in other peoples tragedies? Quite a lot: A hotdog cart is totaled, a convict sprung, a funeral faked, a head scalped, a horse stolen. As Masons professional and personal lives become entangled, his sanity is testedas is the line between suicide and murder.
Ghosted is a gritty literary thriller, a black comedy, a high-stakes poker caper, an urban cowboy adventure, and a love story. Bishop-Stall plunges fearlessly into the perilous terrain of drugs, love, and death in this ambitious debut.