Journey Prize winning short-story writer C. P. Boyko, author of Blackout, will read from his second collection, Psychology and Other Stories, at Pages on Kensington on Oct. 4 at 7:30 p.m.
The collection of six short stories, none of which are titled “Psychology,” examines the roles psychologists — from forensic psychiatrists to self-help gurus — play in society and their relationships with their patients. The book, which will be published by the Windsor-based publisher Biblioasis, is a fresh look at the cliché that it’s the psychologists that require the most therapy.
Boyko declined to comment on his new book.
Tara Murphy, publishing assistant at Biblioasis, says it explores the distinction between the fabricated nature of fiction and psychology’s search for truth.
“Both psychology and fiction are about the narratives we use to understand who we are,” says Murphy.
In Psychology and Other Stories, the line between truth and fiction is blurred. Many of the footnotes at the end of the book refer to actual publications, but others, Murphy says, were invented by Boyko for the book.
The narrator is unreliable, sometimes slipping a first-person perspective into the typically third-person prose. Murphy says readers get the feeling the narrator is playing with them.
“[Boyko] wants it to be as unconstrained as possible,” Murphy says.
Boyko is as reticent and hard to pin down as his characters. In a question and answer session released by Biblioasis, Murphy asked Boyko how much research he did while writing the book. He simply replied, “Lots.” Many questions he flat-out declined to answer.
Boyko, a former Calgarian who earned an English degree and a psychology degree from the University of Calgary, is keeping his views on psychology and his literary influences for the new collection ambiguous. The author is a complete enigma: he was described by the publisher as a sickly child, his parents may have been therapists who did not give him enough affection, he may not have made friends during his degree and he may have had a bad experience with an analyst. Bokyo claims he was wrongly diagnosed with schizophrenia twice, but this could not be confirmed.
Psychology and Other Stories is scheduled for release by Biblioasis this month.
Boyko will be joined during his reading at Pages on Kensington on Oct. 4 by singer-songwriter Rae Spoon. Boyko will be vulnerable to questions during the question and answer portion of the reading, although Murphy says she isn’t sure that he will provide any answers.