Contemporary Canadian Literature with a Distinctly Urban Twist

Anvil Press

The Headless Man

The Headless Man

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  • us/world orders $15

The Headless Man awakens into a strange landscape. He must make sense of it through his actions, striving to determine whether there is a place for him in a world not made in his image or whether he must imagine something different in order to be. He cannot speak, see, or hear in the usual ways, so he must learn to do these things using other parts of his body, leading him to a fuller sense of himself. In this gothic, picaresque narrative, laced with horror and humour, Montreal surrealist Peter Dubé addresses his concern with queer challenges to identity and sexual boundaries, exploring questions about insider and outsider, what constitutes the “normal” and what is relegated to the realm of the “monstrous.”

Advance praise:

“The Headless Man unfolds a journey by turns wondrous, unexpected, and deeply affecting. A perfect distillation of an increasingly surreal world, Peter Dubé’s poetic chapters take us from the fringes of the city to its neon strip, from the first fragile emergence of consciousness to an apotheosis of desire, in a leather bar. Along the way, we experience heightened realism suffused with magic, language infused with consuming force.”
—Anne Stone

“At the height of his abilities, Peter Dubé gifts us The Headless Man. Polyphonic, incandescent, tingling, supremely sensual, an array of seemingly endless possibilities feed the extraordinary associative powers of Dubé’s diction. This is a tour de force befitting of this age, so thirsty for marvellous freedom.”
—Beatriz Hausner

“I admire how ‘universal’ this book is—how, like Paz or Whitman or a few other great poets, Peter Dubé manages to make erotic experience real, offering it to everyone, shutting no one out. The Headless Man is a notably excellent book.”
—A. F. Moritz

What reviewers have to say:

“This is a beautifully tender book, full of sensory delights for the reader and a richly erotic world. Meditations on social action and state violence sit alongside explorations of sex filtered through an impassive, curiously delicate protagonist, challenging us to interrogate our own notions of perception, social construction, and self.”
— Montreal Review of Books


  • Publication: May 15, 2020
  • ISBN: 978-1-77214-155-9
  • Pages: 96 pp.
  • Size: 5.25 x 8.25 inches inches

Peter Dubé is the author, co-author, or editor of eleven books, including the novels Hovering World and The City’s Gates, the short fiction collection At the Bottom of the Sky, the novella Subtle Bodies (a finalist for the Shirley Jackson Award), and Conjure: a Book of Spells, a collection of prose poems that was shortlisted for the A. M. Klein Prize. His most recent work is the short fiction collection Beginning with the Mirror. Peter lives in Montreal.

Books by Peter Dubé