Run Towards the Danger: Confrontations with a Body of Memory


‘An episodic memoir of life as an actor, director and human being unlike any I have ever read … bruisingly intelligent and candid.’

Claire Armitstead, Guardian

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‘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

Sarah Polley’s work as an actor, screenwriter and director is celebrated for its honesty, complexity and deep humanity. She brings all those qualities, along with her exquisite storytelling skills, 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 and the embodied reactions of children and women adapting and surviving. The guiding light is the possibility of experiencing the past anew, as the person she is now but was not then. In this extraordinary book, Polley explores what it is to live in one’s body, in a constant state of becoming, learning and changing. As she was advised after a catastrophic head injury – if we relinquish our protective crouch and run towards the danger, then life can be reset, reshaped and lived afresh.

‘A front-rank author of nonfiction … Her style is admirably forensic, her interest in nuance relentless, her readiness to revise her opinions admirable.’

Prospect Magazine 


‘Over the course of these six essays, she gains in strength and purpose, whether exploring her experience with sexual assault in The Woman Who Stayed Silent; to complications amid pregnancy in High Risk; and making peace with her early life on Road to Avonlea, both conjuring and vanquishing the ghosts that had haunted her. These brilliantly written essays are also about the resilience of the female body, so often a site of struggle but also a site of strength.’

Irish Times


‘It is dazzling to watch her harness the “transformative power of an ever-evolving relationship to memory”.’

Literary Review


‘These confrontations are highly recommended.’

Sight and Sound


‘A fascinating life beautifully and unflinchingly explored.’

Rob Delaney, author of A Heart That Works


‘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, author of Women Talking


‘Insightful, honest, full of humour and compassion, I loved these beautifully written essays on memory, performance and growing older.’

David Nicholls, screenwriter and author of One Day, Us and Sweet Sorrow


‘[Polley is] a stunningly sophisticated observer of the world and an imperfect witness to the truth.’

New York Times


‘This is a visceral and incisive collection of six propulsive personal essays that address the exploitation of child actors, the slippery nature of memory, sexual assault, high-risk pregnancy and premature birth, grief, motherhood, and Polley’s three-year recovery from […] concussion.’

Vanity Fair


‘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, author of  Fugitive Pieces and The Winter Vault

Read an extract.

Also available as an ebook, and in hardback.