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Biblioasis Fall 2018

Man with a Seagull on His Head
By (author): Harriet Paige
Harriet Paige


Biblioasis - Windsor



Product Form:


Form detail:

Paperback , Trade


General Trade
Oct 09, 2018
$19.95 CAD


7.75in x 5 x 0.5 in | 388 gr

Page Count:

200 pages
FICTION / Literary

Linked by an unlikely accident, four strangers characters grapple with loneliness, memory, and the mysteries of art.

Ray Eccles is a man who dislikes unpredictability and the messiness of social interaction, to such extent that his co-workers’ habit of gathering around the Xerox machine it’s his job to run makes even that regular task unbearable. When a misunderstanding leads to unexpected time off from work, Ray takes a day trip to nearby East Beach on what happens to be his fortieth birthday. As he gazes at the sea, a distant woman turns to face him—and a seagull falls from the sky, knocking him unconscious. He awakens compelled to paint her image, using whatever materials come to hand: jam, ketchup, even the walls of his home.

Enter George and Grace Zoob, collectors of Outsider Art, whose endorsement rockets Ray to fame in the art world and beyond. Soon even small-town newspapers are covering his work—which is how Jennifer, the woman on the beach, discovers she’s the sole subject of the paintings that have set the world on fire, leading her to wonder if a man she’s never met is the only person who has ever really seen her.

Lyrical, elegant and quietly profound, Harriet Paige’s Man With a Seagull on His Head captures the small, shared moments where our lives overlap, making artistry out of the everyday.

Harriet Paige was born in 1979 and grew up in Devon, in the south west of England. She studied English and American Literature at the University of Warwick and returned in 2004 to do an MA in Writing. After completing the programme she continued to develop her writing alongside working as an interiors journalist and bringing up her three children. Man With a Seagull on His Head is her debut novel.

Praise for Man with a Seagull on His Head

“Every sentence in this book is perfect.” —Mary Cotton, Newtonville Books (Newton, MA)

“The power of portraiture animates Harriet Paige’s slim, elegant novel...The holy intensity of Ray’s vision stands out against the countless missed connections, distractions and estrangements that mark a life’s relationships. The book reminds us that a single act of attentiveness—of passionate noticing—can cause beauty to drop unexpectedly into the world.” —Wall Street Journal

“Graceful...provides deep introspections about loneliness and death...The novel’s charming, light tone nicely balances its powerful meditations on art and failed expectations.” —Publishers Weekly

“Elegiac...emotionally precise...not only pleasing to the eye, but also profoundly engaging to the heart. A gentle fable about the mystery of artistic creativity.” Kirkus

“Paige explores the need for her characters to prove their existence...a new and exciting voice worth watching closely.” —Library Journal

“An unusual meditation on art and life...The small moment with the seagull ripples into large impacts across many lives in untidy ways that are nonetheless compelling and honest.” —Booklist

“Funny, sharp, engaging and beautifully written...a precious and strange thing. A bona fide gem.” The Guardian

“This debut novel—original, eccentric, with all manner of unusual perspectives—is itself an example of outsider art at its idiosyncratic best.” —Toronto Star

“Will stay with you just as a puzzling but beautiful dream lingers in your conscious mind.” —Winnipeg Free Press

Quiet, spooky and very good . . . It's sometimes terribly sad, sometimes hilarious, sometimes absurdist, but always somehow completely believable. Beyond the narrative, the novel is about art, connections and missed chances, the complications of family and the mysterious workings of the human brain.” —Minneapolis Star Tribune

“Acutely observed and generously imagined this portrait of an accidental artist is as surprising as it is enthralling. It gripped me from the first page. Its last lines are still with me, shimmering with wise promise.” —Maureen Freely

“Ray Eccles, a nonentity, goes for a walk on his 40th birthday. He seems almost reassured by the thought that he is “past the age when something interesting was likely to happen to him." He assumes he is all alone on a deserted beach but then, in quick succession, a woman appears, they lock eyes, and Ray is knocked cold by a seagull plummeting from the sky. Is it Ray's salvation or doom? Is Ray's ensuing story, told in Harriet Paige’s gem-like prose, the stuff of tragedy or farce? Or are we all Ray, so placid and so longing, dreaming of rising into the sky?” —Ezra Goldstein, Community Bookstore (New York, NY)

“Reading Harriet Paige in advance feels like I've been privy to a special secret. I'm so glad I finally get to share this book with the world.” —Lesley Rains, City of Asylum Bookstore (Pittsburgh, PA)

“A quirky, interesting, original story of life lived one foot in front of the other.” —Beth Carpenter, The Country Bookshop (Southern Pines, NC)

“Truly unique. A quirky and intelligent read with a deep beating heart.” —Kevin Elliott, Seminary Co-op Bookstore (Chicago, IL)

“The story sings off the page with tender lyricism. This is a quirky gem." —Linda McLoughlin Figel, {pages} a bookstore (Manhattan Beach, CA)

“The opening of Man with a Seagull on His Head tempts you with its brisk prose and summery seaside setting to pick it up as a momentary diversion, but it quickly establishes powerful links among its many characters, connecting hearts and minds across distance, time, and cultural barriers.” —James Crossley, Island Books (Mercer Island, WA)

"A beautiful fable about art and inspiration and humanity. Outsider artist Ray Eccles has something of Melville's Bartleby about him, but the narrative--smartly--focuses on those whose lives he influences. A gorgeously written, tender debut novel." —Lexi Beach, Astoria Books (Astoria, NY)

“Anyone interested in the mysteries of memory, art-making, and missed connections will be charmed by Harriet Paige's odd, funny, and wise parable.” —John Francisconi, Bank Square Books (Mystic, CT)

“Explores the somewhat psychotic lengths inspiration can take someone paired with the exploitative facets of the art world - and it's rendered with such a fantastic combination of distance and intimacy. The world could maybe be made better if more seagulls fell on our heads.” —Rebecca George, Volumes Bookcafe (Chicago, IL)

“You want to extend a hand and wish the characters well. A fine read. Refreshingly recommend.” —Todd Miller, Arcadia Books (Spring Green, WI)

Man With a Seagull on His Head is an enthralling read unlike anything I have ever read. It makes you feel crazy, sane, upset, and euphoric. Harriet Paige is a remarkable writer with an amazing muse.” —Nick Buzanski, Book Culture (New York, NY)

"Sad, hopeful, perfectly poignant and because the internal mechanics of the novel are so well metred, it also ends beautifully. With echoes of Brian Moore's Judith Hearne and a bit of Marilynne Robinson's Lila, Harriet Paige is more than a writer to watch. She has arrived." —David Worsley, Words Worth Books (Waterloo, ON)

“The compelling characters, fable-like pacing, and funny take on "outsider" art keep the pages flying by.” —Pete Mulvihill, Green Apple Books (San Francisco, CA)

“Lovely, quiet, and quite beautiful. I found myself slowly reading so that I wouldn’t miss any poetic descriptions of people and places. Admittedly, it’s a hard novel to pin down—is it a mystery? A family story? A story of mental illness and art? It’s unlike anything I’ve read, really, and I find it hard to describe and truly convey its beauty.” —Sarah Letke, Redbery Books (Cable, WI)

“If you like your fiction smart and surreal, you will love Man With a Seagull on his Head. A strong, compelling debut!” —Carol Schneck Varner, Schuler Books and Music (Okemos, MI)

“So many wonderful things in one book! It is an odd, well-written, fully realized, moving and unsettling novel. It reminded me of Tom McCarthy's novel Remainder. A rather brilliant first novel; I will be watching for Harriet Paige's next offering.” —Susan Chamberlain, The Book Keeper (Sarnia, ON)

“A deeply thoughtful quick read. Harriet Paige has crafted a diverse array of characters, each captivating as they bare their most vulnerable moments and stand firmly in moments of surety or pride. This rich novel kept me company long after I put it down.” —Carrie Koepke, Skylark Bookshop (Columbia, MO)

“A powerful little book. Haunting.” —Kay Wosewick, Boswell Books (Milwaukee, WI)

“This brief, captivating novel introduces the fascinating world of outsider art through steady pacing and nuanced characters. —Emily Adams, Third Place Books (Lake Forest Park, WA)

“It’s a rare novel that reminds you of one by Virginia Woolf and doesn’t fall short in the comparison. Makes ordinary life seem perpetually on the edge of epiphany.” —Laurie Greer, Politics & Prose (Washington, DC)

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