Toronto Book Awards

Men of Action

2016 Toronto Book Awards Finalist 

After his father undergoes brain surgery and slips into a coma, Howard Akler begins to reflect on the complicated texture of consciousness. During the long months that follow, Akler confronts the unknowable nature of another person’s life, as well as the struggles within his own unpredictable mind.

What the judges said . . .

Men of Action is an insightful and heartbreaking exploration of consciousness, familial relationships, and the sense of self. As he and his family stand a restless vigil through his father's post-operative coma, Howard Akler explores and reorganizes the past, present, and future of his relationship with his father. Immensely relatable, this collection of essays delves fearlessly into loss, grief, and the understanding that often the moments in which we choose to be completely still are when we take the most important actions.

Howard Akler                                                   

Howard Akler is the author of The City Man, also published by Coach House Books, which was nominated for the Amazon First Novel Award, the City of Toronto Book Award and the Commonwealth Writers Prize. He lives in Toronto.

Excerpt from Men of Action 

The first time I shaved my father, he was in a coma. This most quotidian of tasks turned surreal: shook a can of Gillette Foamy, lathered his unresponsive face. I admit to nerves. He was, until the last difficult months at home, always well-groomed, and there was a clear obligation to keep him so. I thumbed his chin to the left. Began on the right. My initial stroke disturbed not a whisker – his skin was too slack – and it took repeated attempts before I was able to hold his cheek taut enough with one hand and angle the blade properly with the other.

Excerpted from Men of Action by Howard Akler Copyright © 2015 Howard Akler. Published by Coach House Books. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.