"A heartbreaking portrait of what it means to be a man in a world where violence trumps reason, and bad decisions begin with good intentions. With wit, tenderness and intelligence, Bull Head exposes the raw underbelly of male experience."
--Gary Shteyngart, Author of Super Sad True Love Story
"John Vigna is a rare writer, capable of standing stark brutality alongside complex humanity, adept at showing us the cruelty of the world without making us despair for ourselves within it. The stories in Bull Head are rich, compelling, and sometimes frightening, written in spare honest prose without pretence or posturing. An astonishing debut."
—Steven Galloway, author of The Cellist of Sarajevo
"John Vigna’s prose grabbed me by the throat and wouldn’t let go. He writes about dogs, despair, and the endless maneuverings between men and women. The characters in Bull Head never give up—they keep trying to fulfill themselves by taking action. Like all of us, their decisions were the best option at the time, but in retrospect often caused more difficulty and damage. Bull Head is a brilliant book by a writer who never flinches."
—Chris Offutt, author of Kentucky Straight
"Bull Head is a remarkable collection of rough-edged stories about the hard lives of men and women living and working in hard places, and John Vigna's eye for detail, gift for description and unflagging empathy are the keys that unlock these characters' closely guarded hearts and give us access to their weary, yearning souls."
—Richard Lange, author of Dead Boys
"Bull Head is full of yearning hearts, people living on the edge of trouble and tomorrow. A man mourning his dead wife and daughters takes in a vagabond girl. Two elderly brothers shun the modern world that slouches toward their doorstep. These are keepers of the faith in a hard-scrabble landscape, forever stumbling into urgent embraces. In every story there are gritty, heartfelt truths to be found amid sagebrush and starlight and feathery dustings of snow."
—Charlotte Gill, author of Ladykiller and Eating Dirt
A line-dancing aficionado visits his brother in jail in hopes of mending their relationship, and instead discovers his own unwitting role in his brother's failed life. After the death of his wife and children, a logger tries to survive the Thanksgiving weekend on his own. A delinquent teen's life is changed forever by a work-camp placement with a violent older boy. A truck driver seeks sanctuary from his abusive wife in a fantasy world of strip clubs and personal ads.
Bristling with restlessness and brutality, the eight linked stories in Bull Head catapult readers into the gritty lives of rural male characters lost in purgatories of their own making. Vigna tempers raw and at times cruel rural masculinity with graceful prose and breathtaking tenderness to illuminate the plight of men who belong neither to history nor the future. A startling homage to the great Southern Gothic tradition, Bull Head is a dazzling debut that heralds a powerful and exciting new literary voice.
- Arsenal Pulp Press, World English, September 2012
Shortlisted for the Danuta Gleed Literary Award
"Vigna showcases an aptly spare style and an impressive willingness to explore the fraught relationships of guys deeply flummoxed, or else defeated, by the wintery meanness of getting by in the valley... The outstanding strengths of Bull Head relate to Vigna’s style and voice."
-The Globe and Mail
“[A]t no point does Vigna condescend to his characters: These men may yearn for something beyond themselves, but they are all possessed of dignity and at least some measure of self-respect. This, more than anything, elevates these stories and lends them an aspect of striking melancholy.”
"His characters have messy, squalid lives, but his prose is luminous and precise, infused with a kind of merciless compassion, paradoxically beautiful in its depiction of the ugliness of poverty and the confusions of broken masculinity. Imagine a blend of Vancouver genius Billie Livingston’s urban grit with Alberta’s Mark Anthony Jarman’s detailed portrayal of men in and making trouble. Go out and get a copy of this impressive debut and discover John Vigna’s world of scars, bottles, heart break and occasional tenderness. These are stories that will haunt the reader and open up mountain vistas to new insights into the human condition."
"The stories in Bull Head are classically tragic. While it’s true that nothing about Vigna’s protagonists suggests the heroic dimensions of a Macbeth or Lear, the doomed consequences that flow from their flaws are just as inevitable."
-Quill & Quire
"Vigna effectively employs clever methods to reveal personality,"
"Muscular, lyrical prose ... The characters, mostly men toughened byhardscrabble living, are drawn with understanding, insight, and brutal honesty.... This impressive debut collection will appeal to readers of
literary fiction like James Dickey's Deliverance, Larry Brown's Joe, and Annie Proulx's Wyoming stories."