At times funny, at other times sad, and more than often a mixture of the two, Giving Up by Mike Steeves is a deeply felt account of what goes on in the inner sanctum of a modern couple’s apartment.
In grappling with the line between what happened and what might have happened, Steeves gives voice to the anguish of a generation of people who grew up with great expectations, and are now settling into their own personal failures and compromises: James is obsessed with completing his life’s work. Mary is worried about their problems starting a family, and is scared that their future might not turn out as she’d planned. In the span of a few hours on an ordinary night in a non-descript city, two relatively small events will have enormous consequences on James’ and Mary’s lives, both together and apart.
“Mike Steeves is a brilliant, singular voice in Can Lit: funny and fresh and fast! Giving Up burns and glows with the intensity of a blue flame and all the pathos and obsessiveness and truth and absurdity of modern coupledom.” —Miriam Toews, author of All My Puny Sorrows and A Complicated Kindness
“Few first novels in recent memory are as consistently charming, smart, entertaining and incisive as Giving Up. Somehow Mike Steeves has written a page-turner about stray cats and trips to the bank, and a story that treads through the stuff of everyday life with such precision to cast each detail, every gesture and object and silence, with great meaning.” —Pasha Malla, author of People Park and The Withdrawal Method
“Mike Steeves’ Giving Up is like a Facebook-era version of Paula Fox’s 1970s New York classic Desperate Characters: a lucid micro-portrait of an apartment-bound couple facing childlessness, marital landlock and a malevolent feline presence. But its pulse is faster, warmer, more irregular. It’s a chamber piece for two voices sharing disappointingly overhyped takeout, a woozily funny yet deeply decent view of adult love. It broke the shit out of my heart. Read it with someone you adore who you fear half the time can’t stand the sight of you.” —Carl Wilson, author of Let’s Talk About Love: Why Other People Have Such Bad Taste
“The monotony and discomfort of innermost thoughts, through normal and abnormal circumstances, are brought to life in this novel, pulling the reader into the exhausting cycle of anxiety in which the narrators have lived for years.” —Publishers Weekly
“Mike Steeves has written a wonderful work of fiction that explores modern coupledom in profound, moving and hilarious ways.” —Pasha Malla for The Globe and Mail
“It’s kind of like a lighter Barth novel, funny and dark and full of despicable thoughts you very well might realize are akin to the ones that run through the over-stimulated heads of people you recognize.” —Emily Keeler for the National Post
“Steeves’ tone shifts between hilarious and heartbreaking so often and so smoothly that eventually Giving Up inhabits a place where you can hardly distinguish between the two. It’s quite a feat.” —Ian McGillis for the Montreal Gazette
“This is a novel of unrelenting relatability, truth, contravention, hope, loss, and usefulness. Within these 216 pages, the reader may be forced to accept the dark side of her/himself, and the society from which s/he was contrived. I can see myself returning to this book once a year, every year, for the rest of my life…” —James Bonner for Nomadic Press
“Mike Steeves awareness of what couples do within a relationship, and his effort to capture domestic politics, complete with all of its twists and stories-within-stories, is admirable.” —Jeff Bursey for Canadian Notes and Queries
“This is a vivid and relatable portrait of a marriage coming apart at the seams.” —Queen Mob’s Teahouse
Mike Steeves puts the spotlight on failure in Giving Up —Metro News
Mike Steeves in conversation with JP Karwacki —Cult MTL
Concordia University First Book Award Jury Citations:
“Mike Steeves is the master of the thinking, double thinking, and rethinking by which people make such a tangle of their lives.”
“[Giving Up] is by turns amusing and melancholy, obsessive and absurd.”
“It asks some deep and disturbing questions about the nature of modern existence, about the goals of art, about the idea of having a “life’s work” and whether it’s all worth it. Yet for all that, it still manages to be laugh-out-loud funny.”
Mike Steeves attended University of King’s College in Halifax, where he received a BA in Political Science and English Literature. He completed an MA in English Literature at Concordia University. Steeves lives with his wife and child in Montreal, and works at Concordia University. Giving Up is his first full-length book of fiction. Connect with Steeves on Twitter @SteevesMike.
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