Oscar-nominated screenwriter, director, and actor Sarah Polley’s Run Towards the Danger explores memory and the dialogue between her past and her present.
These are the most dangerous stories of my life. The ones I have avoided, the ones I haven’t told, the ones that have kept me awake on countless nights. As these stories found echoes in my adult life, and then went another, better way than they did in childhood, they became lighter and easier to carry.
Sarah Polley’s work as an actor, screenwriter, and director is celebrated for its honesty, complexity, and deep humanity. She brings all of those qualities along with her exquisite storytelling chops to these six essays. Each one captures a piece of Polley’s life as she remembers it, while at the same time examining the fallibility of memory, the mutability of reality in the mind, and the possibility of experiencing the past anew, as the person you are now but were not then. As Polley writes, the past and present are in a “reciprocal pressure dance.”
Polley contemplates stories from her own life ranging from stage fright to high risk childbirth to endangerment and more. After struggling with the aftermath of a concussion, Polley met a specialist who gave her wholly new advice: to recover from a traumatic injury, she had to retrain her mind to strength by charging towards the very activities that triggered her symptoms. With riveting clarity, she shows the power of applying that same advice to other areas of her life in order to find a path forward, a way through. Rather than live in a protective crouch, she had to run towards the danger.
In this extraordinary book, Sarah Polley explores what it is to live in one’s body, in a constant state of becoming, learning, and changing.
Reviews and Endorsements:
“Fascinating, harrowing, courageous, and deeply felt, these explorations of ‘dangerous stories,’ harmful past events, and trials of the soul speak to all who’ve encountered dark waters and have had to navigate them.”
—Margaret Atwood via Twitter
“In Run Towards the Danger, Sarah Polley does just that. She tells us the truth, even when it feels razor sharp—even when it feels dangerous. She rips away at painful past experiences that she’s never shared before, and in this way emboldens us to sharpen our gaze on the shadowed moments in our own past, to understand their provenance and to bring meaning to them. She shows us how, by doing this, we can begin to move towards that specific peace of mind—you might even call it joy—that comes with confronting our demons and knowing ourselves. These brilliant essays (and Sarah Polley, with her melioristic heart and empathic eye) urge us, by example, towards the examined life, the life worth living, and give us a jolt of energy to muster the courage and compassion needed to live it.”
—Miriam Toews, bestselling author of Women Talking and All My Puny Sorrows
“Sarah Polley understands that questions of conscience are inseparable from the terrors and tenderness of the body, and that courage—moral or physical—is not fearlessness but our relationship to fear. How we confront pain, how we determine what is safe, how we comprehend the depth and limits of our responsibility to others and to ourselves—these are exacting, keening questions. This is a powerful and moving book, both in its seeking and its wisdom.”
—Anne Michaels, Giller-shortlisted author of Fugitive Pieces and All We Saw
“I loved this book! Like light refracted through a prism, each essay offers a unique view of the rich inner world and illustrious career of one of our most important artists. Smart, funny, devastating, and compassionate—often all in the same paragraph—Run Towards the Danger reminds us of literature’s power to synthesize the human condition and to transform a reader in the process.”
—Alison Pick, Man Booker Prize–nominated author of Far to Go
About the Author:
Sarah Polley is an Academy Award-nominated screenwriter, director, and actor. After making short films, Polley made her feature-length directorial debut with the drama film Away from Her in 2006. Polley received an Oscar nomination for the screenplay, which she adapted from the Alice Munro story “The Bear Came Over the Mountain.” Her other projects include the documentary film Stories We Tell (2012), which won the New York Film Critics Circle prize and the National Board of Review award for best documentary; the miniseries adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s novel Alias Grace (2017); and the romantic comedy Take This Waltz (2011). Polley began her acting career as a child, starring in many productions for film and television.