Friday, June 13, 2008

Lorna Jackson Flirts with Richard Ford.

I haven't posted enough about this book yet. Available for about two months now, we only got around to launching last weekend in Victoria. There's only been scant coverage thus far -- a rather poor review of it in Q&Q, an article in a Victoria paper -- the Times-Colonist? -- which got many of its facts mixed up. A piece last week or this I have not seen yet in Monday magazine, Victoria's ALt-weekly. There's a Globe review upcoming, and I expect a few others to follow. Not the wide net cast by Lorna's Cold-cocked, but nor did we expect there to be. It's not a hockey book (though several of the pieces deal in some form with the sport), and it's a book which is awfully hard to define. A book which may fall between the cracks.

Which is a damn shame, as it is certainly the most idiosyncratic book of fiction Biblioasis has published, and perhaps the oddest title that will be published in Canada this year. Is it fiction? Okay, then, short fiction? A strangely arranged novel? A collection of linked riffs? Is it, as we've said in the cover bumpf, a long, comic essay on grief?

It's all of these things, and also brilliant. Comic. Beautifully conceived and written. Every time I look at the book I'm drawn into it, abandon myself to its pages for the pure pleasure of them. It has nothing to do with the interview subjects, Ian Tyson, Bobby Orr, Alice Munro, Janet Jones-Gretzky, Michael Ondaatje, Benjamin Britten. Richard Ford. It is entirely the book's finely crafted sensibility, its humour and sadness, its language and the joy Jackson takes in it. The intelligence and compassion and the absolutely bizarre shape this book takes. So give the damn thing a chance, will you?

As it ahppens, we've put Lorna's Richard Ford interview online on the CNQ website, so you can read it here:

Here's an excerpt, which starts with a question from the narrator:

—Do you have anxieties about writing in the first person from the narrative perspective of a guy who has sex with 18 women after his little boy dies, or a guy who thinks Canadians and their sport are boring? Are you afraid friends and family might confuse author and character?

—Absolutely not.

—Is that maturity, or did you never have those anxieties?

—I don’t give a shit.

—And did you never give a shit?

—If I did I made myself quit.

—One more question, Richard, then my time’s up. Who’s writing better short stories than you are?

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