When is a Man
About the Book
Paul Rasmussen is a young ethnographer and academic recovering from prostate cancer. Broken, he retreats to the remote forests and towns of the Immitoin Valley. As an outsider, he discovers how difficult it is to know a place, let alone become a part of it. Then, a drowned man and a series of encounters with the locals force him to confront the valley’s troubled past and his own uncertain future. As Paul turns his attention to the families displaced forty years earlier by the flooding of the valley to create a hydroelectric dam, his desire to reinvent himself runs up against the bitter emotions and mysterious connections that linger in the community in the aftermath of the flood.
An original debut novel that is meditative, raw, and exuberant in tone, Aaron Shepard’s When is a Man offers a fresh perspective on landscape and masculinity.
“Defining masculinity and male sexuality was likely not the goal of Shepard’s novel, but he does a fine job of exploring the topic nonetheless . . . When is a Man is fine proof of the skill the author has for grafting and crafting words into a memorable journey through the human condition.” —The Winnipeg Review
“Virtually every beat of Shepard’s prose is bang on. His sharp dialogue, well-drawn characters, and incisive descriptions work . . . both gripping and sad—a tale full of tenderness and tension.” —Quill & Quire
“Lyrical, compassionate, erotic: this is a haunting portrayal of how a man can forget —and then remember —what it means to be desired.” —D.W. Wilson, author of Once You Break a Knuckle
“When is a Man by Aaron Shepard is an intimate and affecting exploration of screw-tight landscapes of the Interior. Shepard paints scenes in smoke and snow and light and dark, and the crack language and iron settings of river, mountain and forest put me in mind of the best of Ken Kesey the merry prankster. When is a Man is complex and stubborn and a serious joy.” —Mark Anthony Jarman, author of 19 Knives and Dancing Nightly in the Tavern