Finalist for the Ethel Wilson Fiction Prize
Finalist for the Victoria Butler Book Prize
Psychologists are people we admire and resent. At best, they’re compassionate detectives of the human soul, healers and diagnosticians, assessing the internal machinations that structure our lives and behavior. At worst, however, they’re smug, hyper-educated, bombastic, yappy, socially deaf, thrice-divorced and twice-separated spouse-swapping cat-torturing perverts.
Plus, they’re all in this book. And so are their patients.
C.P. Boyko’s Psychology and Other Stories is replete with analysts, attorneys, criminals, Freudians, wardens, and self-help gurus. From Dr. Pringle’s treatment-resisting young patient in “Reaction-Formation” to the philandering forensic psychiatrist of “The Blood-Brain Barrier,” Psychology is a droll dissection of industry archetypes—as well as a brilliant study of mental illness, mental health, and the people who try to tell them apart.
Praise for Psychology and Other Stories
“C.P. Boyko’s second offering is brilliantly bold. Playful and dire and scholarly all at once, Psychology may well be the most audaciously original collection of Canadian fiction, ever. Mr. Mustard alone is worth the price of admission.”—Bill Gaston, author of Mount Appetite
“Very revealing.”—Hubert T. Ross, PhD, PsyD, DPsy
“C. P. Boyko takes as probing a look into the world of psychology as any doctor might into the confused mind of a patient, and comes away with a similar diagnosis: narcissism, delusions of grandeur, flights of fancy, logorrhoea … The author bucks current trends in fiction like invisible narrators and single-character focus, preferring instead to soar omnisciently above the human fray, until such time as he deems it necessary to dive-bomb, raptor-like, into the backstory and motivations of a particular character. Occasionally he addresses the reader directly to make a point, a satirical take on the industry he excoriates in this book: don’t worry, I’ll tell you what to think. The style, reminiscent of an earlier time in fiction when authors sometimes played God, takes some getting used to in these days of sparseness and minimalism, but once the reader understands where Boyko is coming from, then, unlike the subject of psychology, it all makes sense. And the explorations drill so deeply into this mysterious medical science that they make the effort worth the reader’s adjustment.”—The L.A. Review of Books
“A smart, funny book, and possibly therapeutic as well.”—Toronto Star
“These six stories are all written around the single unifying theme of psychology, which—if you take the time to read these satirical and heartbreaking narratives—is itself perhaps just a story we tell ourselves about the way the human mind works … Fans of satirical fiction will love this book; so will anyone who has reclined on a therapist’s couch, or taken a psychology course from a larger-than-life professor with obvious neuroses, or read a self-help book by an author whose biography reveals them to be a total mess. Yet the mockery here is never mean-spirited; the book is impeccably researched and unflinchingly intelligent.”—The National Post
“There is no story called “Psychology” in C.P. Boyko’s second collection. Instead, Boyko’s stories boldly assert that the practice of psychology—along with its cousins, psychiatry, psychotherapy, and self-help – is a type of fiction. These sciences of the mind, the stories suggest, almost always fail to produce the intended results. In the hands of a lesser writer, this pervading theme—far too obvious to be considered subtext—might cause a reader to grow weary over the course of six stories. However, Boyko never becomes preachy or didactic, and the work retains a generous sense of humour throughout.”—Quill & Quire
“Stealthy, seductive … A collection that in many ways … will provide thought-fodder, not to mention good old-fashioned pleasure, for months.”— The Montreal Gazette
“Bokyo’s insights and criticisms into psychology as a profession are biting, but never disrespectful … This shows Boyko’s control over subtlety and his talent as a writer of nuance. Psychology and Other Stories tickled my cynicism just right.” — The Winnipeg Review