Publisher: Metonymy Press
Released: October 19, 2021
A young gymnast crushes on an older, more talented teammate while contending with her overworked mother. A newly queer twenty-something juggles two intimate relationships—with a slippery anarchist lover and an idiosyncratic meals-on-wheels recipient. A queer metal band’s summer tour unravels amid the sticky heat of the Northeastern US. A codependent listicle writer becomes obsessed with a Japanese ASMR channel.
The stories in Personal Attention Roleplay are propelled by queer loneliness, mixed-race confusion, late capitalist despondency, and the pitfalls of intimacy. Taking place in Montreal, Toronto, and elsewhere, they feature young Asian misfits struggling with the desire to see themselves reflected—in their surroundings, in others, online. Chau Bradley’s precise language and investigation of our more troubling motivations stand out in this wryly funny debut, through stories that hint at the uncanny while remaining grounded in the everyday.
"Helen Chau Bradley’s first collection is supremely ordinary but that’s its magic, their stories are deeply experiential and in their familiar excess I felt transported into an array of different bodies and moments that make up this time and each ending releasing me into the next set of conditions that puzzle out the almost sci fi specificity of the unexpected world 'this' contemporary is. I felt compelled to keep reading being held by an impulse to not be alone today or tonight. Personal Attention Roleplay is a canny and companionable book, actually sweet." —Eileen Myles, author of Chelsea Girls
"A perfect album of stories—funny, sad, sharp, and deeply intimate. Helen Chau Bradley's writing is shimmering and beautiful. I loved this book." —Casey Plett, author of Little Fish
"Queer maverick Helen Chau Bradley’s adventurous debut is what the broken world needs right now." —Jennifer Tseng, author of Mayumi and the Sea of Happiness
"Helen Chau Bradley is a luminous and immensely talented writer with a distinctive and compelling contemporary vision. Read them!" —Sharlene Teo, author of Ponti
"With an enticing mix of sincerity, irony, and wit, the stories in Helen Chau Bradley’s Personal Attention Roleplay offer brilliant portrayals of deliciously awkward interactions and isolations. No image, no metaphor, is out of place in the mouth of its speaker, and each speaker is a sympathetic (even while, at times, flawed) representation of their generation, community, and culture. The effect is an effortlessly cool book that gifts a welcome shakeup to Asian Canadian lit. To say I’m inspired is an understatement." —Jenny Heijun Wills, author of Older Sister. Not Necessarily Related
Helen Chau Bradley is a writer and musician living in Tio’tia:ke / Montreal. They are the author of Automatic Object Lessons (House House Press, 2020). Their stories and essays have appeared in carte blanche, Cosmonauts Avenue, Entropy Magazine, Maisonneuve Magazine, the Montreal Review of Books, and elsewhere.