About the book

Book Cover for The Society of Experience by Matt CahillWhen his father — a distinguished writer — unexpectedly passes away, Derrick van der Lem’s insulated world implodes, leaving it a much stranger and crueler place than the one he knew. In the midst of his downward spiral, the mysterious Society of Experience asks him to take part in a baffling science experiment involving time travel that promises to change his life and pull him out of his rut.

When the experiment begins to untangle, Derrick finds himself out of his depth and in the middle of a nightmare, with only the company of a mysterious woman to steer him from chaos to heartbreak. Meanwhile, who are the society, and what are their true intentions for Derrick? Is time travel real, or is it yet another contrivance the Society has invented? Part Philip K. Dick, part post-modern mystery, The Society of Experience is an inventive, fast-paced story of a man’s journey through streets, alleyways and deserted buildings in search of a better tomorrow.

The Society of Experience is published by Buckrider Books, an imprint of Wolsak and Wynn.

256 pages | paperback | ISBN 978-1-928088-04-2 | $22.00


He looked at me as if he held a gun under the table. “We know more about you than you do. We know you can be trusted, yes, but it doesn’t mean we don’t also expect you to proceed with your full attention and respect for those who have worked very, very hard to make this happen. Do I make myself clear?”

“Um, yeah.”


“Yes. I understand.”

I know they knew about the suicide — the nurse was their plant, after all. But I didn’t expect Wallace to place it on the table like that: a bargaining tool. I’d never seen him angry, and the shock shot through my head like a drug. Realizing that there wasn’t a fourth wall with an audience behind it. Realizing what I’d just signed and handed over, from every caution I’d heard growing up: if it’s too good to be true, it probably is.

It probably was. And yet, despite it all, it still seemed more fun than reality.

excerpt from The Society of Experience

A Harper’s Bazaar 15 Best Books for Fall 2015 pick!

Matt Cahill’s debut novel The Society of Experience explores the dangers of magical thinking in a most entertaining way. Both thoughtful and humorous, twisty and fun, this is transporting storytelling (in more ways than one).

Andrew Pyper, author of The Demonologist and The Damned

A swirling confident debut, supported by crisp prose without misstep, and containing many more original ideas than books three times its slender size. Sly and slippery fun – I thought of Ben Marcus and JG Ballard… writers who say don’t worry I know what I’m doing as they break from the pack.

Tony Burgess, author of Pontypool Changes Everything and The n-Body Problem

Locations in the book

Want to know where Derrick finds Seneca? Interested in the alleyway systems of Toronto described in the book? Click through to view a map of all the locations mentioned in the book.


The playlist

The Society of Experience features the story of Derrick van der Lem, who is not only a writer but a music supervisor for film and TV. He also lives above a very good jukebox. Thus, music takes the form of a background character, poking itself into the fray either in Derrick’s easily distracted mind or literally from underneath his apartment.

I’ve taken all of the performers and songs mentioned in the novel and have arranged them in chronological order as a playlist. Additionally, I’ve thrown in a few extra tracks to round things out, which harmonize with the rest – you could consider them “inspired by” the book, or vice versa.

Please enjoy responsibly.


About Matt Cahill

Matt Cahill author photo by http://katiataylorphotography.comMatt Cahill is a Toronto writer. He has contributed essays to Ryeberg, BlogTO, and Torontoist. His short fiction has appeared with Found Press and The Rusty Toque.

Matt is a Registered Psychotherapist with a private practice in downtown Toronto. He lives in Parkdale with his partner, and a small black cat

He worked for twenty years in film and television post production and holds an honorary Production Certificate from the Emmy® Awards (Outstanding Achievement in Single Camera Editing). He was an instructor with Humber College’s Film and TV Production program and authored a post production Tumblr diary for the completion of Guy Maddin’s 2011 film, Keyhole, which premiered at TIFF.

Matt reads high-falutin’ books of all sorts, plays intermediate soccer, and occasionally drums. He can swear in Dutch but is unable to brake while skating.

(photo courtesy of Katia Taylor Photography)

Buy the book

The Society of Experience is available in paperback format through your local bookstore, or online through these US and Canadian outlets:


United States