Thursday, April 30, 2009

Ideas of Reference

Over at Mike Barnes's blog www.graphomaniac.blogspot Mike will be posting over the next twenty or so days a long essay which might be understood as a continuation of his memoir The Lily Pond. I read an earlier version of this over the summer, though I've not yet read this new, edited version. I'm quite anxious, though, to read it, and will be checking in every day to read the installments as he puts them up.

I've taken the liberty of cutting and pasting Mike's introduction to this ideas of reference project below, and I'll be highlighting parts of it as he puts it up. But if you want to read the whole thing, I'd suggest bookmarking his blog. This will be worth tuning in regularly for.

(ideas of reference), a sidelong introduction

Starting with the next post I will be entering a long, multi-part prose piece that, based on the draft I have, and if all goes well, should take between 15 and 20 days to correct and enter.

This writing has no title. Or rather its title is a picture, an image that repeats with variations at the start of each of the work's three sections. But because it is tedious to refer to an "untitled prose piece," I am calling it by its bracketed subtitle, (ideas of reference).

It also has no genre, or no definite one that I can see. It seems to loiter between personal essay and fiction, though sidling closer to the former.

I will number its three sections and parts in each post title, so that, for instance, (ideas of reference) 2.3 will refer to the third part of the second section.

What is it about? I don't know if that matters to you. (Especially since I don't know if there is a you. Disabling the Comments and Followers (Followers?!) functions was the first step I took in beginning this blog, a liberating act that I have never regretted and without which 2009 would have expired quickly.) But for some reason I feel the need to try and say.

If I found myself stretched on the Theme Rack in the English Teacher's donjon–that place of dank groans I have long since tunnelled out of, and which I do my humble and secretive best to help others endure and escape from–I might give up this to my inquisitors: (ideas of reference) grew out of my wondering at how one slips toward, and through, the door of insanity (to avoid some more sophisticated but cumbersome phrase such as "states of non-consensual reality"), and then, slipping through and back repeatedly, learns to channel those slipping passages as a source of art: writing as a lucid dream.

But that, barring screams, is all I could give those dear old thugs.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Alex Good's Headboard

Over at Good Reports, Alex Good has a short, though typically smart, review of Lorna Jackson's Cold-cocked: On Hockey.

Cold-Cocked is a bit of a grab-bag of a book: a fan's notes following the fortunes of the Vancouver Canucks (the author lives on Vancouver Island), an essay on sports, gender, and the media, a family history, and a menopause memoir. Though not consistently "on" hockey, hockey is the stable reference point around which everything else coheres as bodies and relationships fall apart. Sharply observed and honest to the point of being alienating at times, Jackson's book is a revealing personal odyssey as well as a valuable addition to the literature of our national game.

Hans Eichner's Kahn & Engelmann: A Book Trailer

Google Settlement Update

Looks like we have a bit more time to make up our mind. Good news.

TO: Directors and Delegates of IPA Members; IPA Executive Committee; IPA Copyright Committee; Mailing List

Google Book Settlement: Extension of key settlement deadlines and other news

On 28 April, the US District Judge in charge of the class action settlement in the US Google Book Search litigation extended key deadlines as follows:

· The “Opt Out” deadline and the deadline for objections have been moved from 5 May to 4 September 2009.
· The Fairness Hearing has been rescheduled for 7 October 2009, and will not take place on 11 June 2009 as initially notified.

The other deadlines set by the settlement agreement remain unaffected by this court order. With this order, Judge Chin reacts to formal requests mainly filed by author representatives that the Opt Out deadline be extended by four to six months. The parties to the settlement, including AAP and the publisher plaintiffs, had acknowledged in writing that additional time was warranted, thereby enabling Judge Chin to extend the deadlines without much controversy. - A copy of the extension order and the official press release are available from the IPA Secretariat.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Columbia Spectator Interviews Bruce Jay Friedman

“When you pit two oppositional characters together, crazy things are going to happen,” Bruce Jay Friedman explains—and, oh yes, his latest compilation of short stories is chalk-full of the aforementioned dichotomy. Take “The Convert,” which pits a Catholic-turned-Jew against a Jew married to a Catholic, or “Neck and Neck,” which follows two men competing for literary fame over the span of several decades. Friedman’s book, Three Balconies (Stories and a Novella) is a terrifically fun read, and affects the same sort of wry, twisted humor found in the screenplay of Splash, Friedman’s Oscar-nominated work. The stories in question were written over the span of several years, and, for the most part, deal with the plight of professional underdogs, i.e., struggling writers, reporters and actors, and Friedman admits that this is, to some extent, an autobiographical inclination on his part: “Many of the stories are an extrapolation of an incident that I had in my life, which, if…expanded… make[s] a story,” Friedman tells me, “there were a lot of forces at work [when I was young] so that I could almost describe myself as sort of an underdog, with sympathy for the underdog; or it may be some sort of automatic connection with people who are struggling.”

When asked about his influences, Friedman replies without hesitation; his reply, however, is roundabout and I am puzzled until I realize that Friedman’s interpretation of the question diverges completely from my conception of it—as I come to realize during the interview, Friedman attaches specific episodic memories to the most basic ideas, turning every answer into something of a short story in itself. In this instance, although he eventually limits his literary influences to Thomas Wolfe, James Jones (From Here to Eternity), J.D. Salinger, and the author of the Big Blue Book of Fairytales, I am treated to a few anecdotes in the process of his explanation. Friedman first outlines his childhood experiences in the Bronx in the forties: “We weren’t a bookish family [but] I discovered the library, and I was always running back and forth…from the street to the bookish life.” Friedman describes himself as essentially “self-taught,” with the radio and people that he heard (in his family, in the street) playing a heavy hand in the development of his understanding of the way humans communicate and build relationships. Finally, Friedman touches on his stint in the Air Force in the fifties, and, surprisingly, this is still incredibly relevant to my initial question—“I had one strong influence in the Air Force,” Friedman details, “My commanding officer was a literary guy, and had me read three books in one weekend…at age 21, I decided it would be nice to be a writer.”

Friedman continues on in this autobiographical vein, telling me about the generation of one of the more popular stories in Three Balconies, “The Investigative Journalist,” which approaches the subject of incarceration with a surprisingly envious attitude: “It stemmed from [my experience working] on the movie Stir Crazy—as part of the research, I visited a prison in Huntsville, Texas, and noticed it was very clean and peaceful. At the time, I was living alone, in the middle of a divorce, so I felt a sort of camaraderie in the prison; [I thought,] What if a fellow like me fell in love with a prison and arranged to get arrested?”

I decide to end by asking Friedman pointedly about the way the inner flap of his latest book describes it as a set of “moral fables”—surely, I think, Friedman will self-effacingly scoff at this grandiose and seemingly irrelevant terminology. But, instead, Friedman replies mysteriously, “Fables? Yeah, the word comes up.” And the truth is, his short stories do have a “tilted” moral quality to them, albeit one that concerns itself less with small Aesop-inspired animals than with contemporary human issues like sex, friendship, and modern religion.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Thought You Were Dead

For those who have not seen it, a slightly extended version of our trailer for Terry Griggs's forthcoming Thought You Were Dead is up now at the Globe and Mail website. There will be more forthcoming on the Globe site in the coming weeks, including the May 12th installment of the Tuesday essay and a Globe Chapter preview. Stay tuned.

Thoughts on Holding a New Book (A Cynthia Post)

First -- wow, so handsome!

Brilliant colours, striking design. Book sits well in the hand. Interior design very clean, clear. No typos visible. Table of contents -- looks to me like a curious bunch of story titles. Acknowledgments -- warm feelings about all those good people in my life. Roses, roses all the way. . . .

Second -- but so small! The English Stories is tiny.

Under my desk there's a big plastic tub file full of notes (pigs, NFB, hedgeteachers, how glass fails, minor Victorian poets), notebooks and notebooks, handwritten drafts, country and city maps, yellow lined pads thick with quotations (Bible, Eliot, Wodehouse, Shakespeare), a pack of index cards on the history of Ireland, computer printouts, correspondence with magazine editors, printouts of emails, schoolgirls' stories, reminders about Henry VIII and Anglicanism, letters to and from English friends, litmags that originally published some of the stories, 1950s women's mags and Punch and The Countryman, handwritten paragraphs taped together with computer-printed bits, newsletters from Canadian and English schools, more drafts, more drafts, more.

And that's only one box. There's also a file drawer for English Stories, and another box.

A bunch of years are compressed into this little book, too, for the first story appeared in Event in 1993. Quite a long time, in one life.

What to say?

Here's the new book, and I'm happy.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Literary Value First

A couple of nice reviews -- Feature Reviews, no less -- by James Grainger in the current Q&Q of two of our Spring titles: Terry Griggs's Thought You Were Dead and Cynthia Flood's The English Stories. Of Dead Grainger writes, in part: Thought You Were Dead can be summarized as a playful deconstruction of the genteel drawing room detective novel, brimming with knowing winks to fans of the genre and the more highbrow reader ... Beith finds himself in the middle of a sinister plot of Chandleresque complexity. / The narrative and dialogue are clever and lively from beginning to end, and many readers will enjoy the layers of comic nuance as Griggs turns the genre inside out. Beith is a fine take on the stock character of the reluctant gentleman detective ..."

Of Flood he writes: "Flood artfully transplants the conventions of the Canadian Gothic story form and its obsession with death, isolation, madness and antural landscape into the satiric, provincial milieu of the genteel British lower-middle-classes enshrined in the works of V.S. Prichett. ... Flood creates a vivid gallery of British types ... (and) these stories ultimately acheive a brooding resonance that captures the literal and spiritual dampness of a provincial scene that all but died out with the last remnants of the British Empire."

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

National Magazine Awards

Rebecca Rosenblum 's short story Linh Lai, about a young Vietnamese girl who is sent by her parents to Canada so that she will learn English, and dreams of learning to fly on a skateboard, has been shortlisted for a National Magazine Award. First published last summer in The New Quarterly as part of their Metcalf-Rooke related feature, it can be found in her first collection of short stories, ONCE. Congrats to Rebecca and The New Quarterly.

Speaking of the Metcalf-Rooke award, we'll be getting the next installment underway in the next week or so. Last year's winner Amy Jones will be featured in the summer issue of TNQ, due to hit mailboxes in the next few months.

Crazy Jane is in the World

Wayne Clifford's Jane Again should begin hitting bookstores across this land sometime this week, so, in anticipation, another SCRIBD sneak peak.

Jane Again by Wayne Clifford Jane Again by Wayne Clifford biblioasis In his sixties, Yeats published the half-dozen poems that drew Crazy Jane out from his imagination to act as a profane voice against the strictures of the Church and the mores of the age. Wayne Clifford, in his sixties, let a lifetime of wondering why Yeats offered so little explanation of Jane’s human presence settle into his imagination, and let Jane free herself out of the dead to speak once more. In Jane Again, we learn why Jane is crazy, if indeed she is, what part her Jack has played in her passion, how she understands the nature of the divine, and who she insists herself to be in this world almost large enough to hold her.
Wayne Clifford's Crazy Jane is almost always bawdy, irreverent and humorous; it is also loving, moving and beautiful, and should help to cement Clifford’s reputation as one of the most inventive versifiers to come out of Canada in years.

Clifford’s tightly wrought diction verges on verbal contortionism…[his] sonnets surprise with wit and pithy ambiguity. – Quill & Quire

[Wayne Clifford] offers a masterclass on how a single form can assume a protean variety of shapes, sounds and voices. It also confirms the incantatory powers of one of our most unpredictable poets. – Carmine Starnino

Balance between taut rhyme and meter and occasional variance, between language of musical theory and popular crudity, marks Clifford's collection. – Brook Houglum, Canadian Literature

Clifford handles the form with humorous familiarity, nimbly picking his way through the gamut of sonnet stanza forms, in rhythms both jazzy and iambic. – Harry Vandervlist, Quill & Quire

Wayne Clifford is the author of seven books of poetry. His most recent collections are The Book of Were and On Abducting the ‘Cello, both published by The Porcupine’s Quill. Clifford has published poems in an incredibly broad range of journals – from Canadian Forum to avant-garde magazines like bill bissett's Blewointment, bpNichol's ganglia, and Sheila Watson's White Pelican. He lives in Halifax where the benign seclusion of obscurity is conducive to sonneteering.

April ● World ● First Publication ● 5 ½ x 8 ½ ● 80 pp
Softcover 978-1-897231-55-5

Competing With Google

With thanks to MobyLives for pointing this out. I guess this belongs more to the "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em" school of thought.

DIY High-Speed Book Scanner from Trash and Cheap Cameras - More cool how to projects

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Journey Prize

I've received word through the grapevine that at least two writers with short fiction collections forthcoming from Biblioasis will be included in this year's Journey Prize Anthology. Alexander MacLeod will be included for his story, published in The New Quarterly, Miracle Mile. This was also published last year as the premier story in Frog Hollow Press's Short Fiction Chapbook series, and can be purchased from their website. There's only 3 copies of the hardback left, certain to be a collector's item, so trust me: pick one up while you can. I've bought a couple of extras in the belief that I'll one day be able to retire upon them. It's a beautiful production, and a horrifying story about competitiveness and companionship.

Here's the first paragraph:

This was the day after Mike Tyson bit off Evander Holyfield’s ear. You remember that. It was a moment in history - not like Kennedy or the planes flying into the World Trade Center – not up at that level. This was something lower, more like Ben Johnson, back when his eyes were that thick, yellow colour and he tested positive in Seoul after breaking the world-record in the hundred. You might not know exactly where you were standing or exactly what you were doing when you first heard about Tyson or about Ben, but when the news came down, I bet it stuck with you. When Tyson bit off Holyfield’s ear, that cut right through the everyday clutter. All the papers and the television news shows ran the same pictures of Tyson standing there in his black trunks with the blood in his mouth. It seemed like everything else that happened that day had to be related back to this, back to Mike and what he had done. You have to remember, this was before Tyson got the tattoo on his face and the rematch with Holyfield was supposed to be his big comeback, a chance to go straight and be legitimate again. Nobody thinks that now. Now, the only thing you see when you look back to that day is Mike moving in for the kill, the way his cheek brushes up almost intimately against Evander’s face before he breaks down completely and gives in to his rawest impulse. Then the tendons in his neck bulge out and his teeth come grinding down.

With any luck, we'll be releasing Alex's first collection of stories, titled Heavy Lifting, in Spring 2009. Trust me: it's going to be, quite literally, a knock out.

Adrian Michael Kelly's Lure, first published in Prairie Fire, is also up for a Journey Prize. I don't believe I've read this one, though I've read others from the collection, which is still in process. They are all fantastic. I intend to bug Adrian for the story as soon as I finish this post. I have no doubt, however, that this will be as good as everything else I've read from it.

Congrats to both Adrian and Alex.

How the E-Book will Change the Way We Read and Write

An interesting article in the WSJ on the E-Book revolution.

Every genuinely revolutionary technology implants some kind of "aha" moment in your memory -- the moment where you flip a switch and something magical happens, something that tells you in an instant that the rules have changed forever.

I still have vivid memories of many such moments: clicking on my first Web hyperlink in 1994 and instantly transporting to a page hosted on a server in Australia; using Google Earth to zoom in from space directly to the satellite image of my house; watching my 14-month-old master the page-flipping gesture on the iPhone's touch interface.

The latest such moment came courtesy of the Kindle, Inc.'s e-book reader. A few weeks after I bought the device, I was sitting alone in a restaurant in Austin, Texas, dutifully working my way through an e-book about business and technology, when I was hit with a sudden desire to read a novel. After a few taps on the Kindle, I was browsing the Amazon store, and within a minute or two I'd bought and downloaded Zadie Smith's novel "On Beauty." By the time the check arrived, I'd finished the first chapter.


I knew then that the book's migration to the digital realm would not be a simple matter of trading ink for pixels, but would likely change the way we read, write and sell books in profound ways. It will make it easier for us to buy books, but at the same time make it easier to stop reading them. It will expand the universe of books at our fingertips, and transform the solitary act of reading into something far more social. It will give writers and publishers the chance to sell more obscure books, but it may well end up undermining some of the core attributes that we have associated with book reading for more than 500 years.

There is great promise and opportunity in the digital-books revolution. The question is: Will we recognize the book itself when that revolution has run its course?

For the full article go here. There's also an interesting comparison between a Sony E-Reader, which I own, and the amazon Kindle, which is not available in Canada. Seems the Kindle wins.

Monday, April 20, 2009

On Books and Newspapers

Over at the Guardian, robert McCrum worries that the decline of newspapers may foreshadow similar crises in book publishing.

The internet revolution, which has brought low so many American newspapers, from Seattle to Chicago, must surely threaten conventional book publishing. Agreed: new books in copyright are very different animals from daily newspapers. Elsewhere, however, there are alarming parallels between newspapers and publishing. Both, essentially, have given away their all-important content for nothing: newspapers through online services, books through the mass digitisation of the contents of the world's greatest copyright libraries in the "Google initiative". Both have found it difficult to think laterally, or even creatively, about the immense power mobilised by organisations like Amazon, Google, Microsoft and Yahoo.

Even new titles are vulnerable to the Kindle and the ebook. You may say, as people often do, that you have never seen anyone reading an ebook on the tube or the bus. Fair enough. But in any big American city today, you will find hundreds of younger readers in bars and coffee shops happily immersed in their Kindle or its equivalent. No question: books are facing their "iPod moment".

Go here for the full article.

Religious Knowledge: A Story from Cynthia Flood's The English Stories

In anticipation of the publication of Cynthia Flood's The English Stories -- set for May 1st -- I offer you one of the stories from the collection, the haunting and moving Religious Knowledge.

English Stories SCRIBD English Stories SCRIBD biblioasis The English Stories
Cynthia Flood

Cynthia Flood’s The English Stories offers a series of twelve linked fictions detailing the story of Amanda Ellis, a young Canadian girl who goes with her parents to England “for a year that stretched into two,” and her life at St. Mildred’s school. Unlike many linked story collections which come to mind, however – Alice Munro’s Lives of Girls and Women and Sharon English’s Uncomfortably Numb are among two of the best – Flood’s suite is not limited to first person narration by the heroine; rather, Flood chooses to spice this collection with a wide range of perspectives and voices, The result is an intricate collage which gives a sense of English life as viewed by an outsider during the 1950s, as the country tries to dust itself off in both the aftermath of the Second World War and the collapse of the British Empire.

The English Stories is an assured and mature collection by one of the best short story writers to come out of Canada, pairing striking emotional depth with tremendous technical skill.

Cynthia Flood's characters don't just breathe, they bristle with life. – January Magazine

..lyrically challenging and stylistically dazzling – Monsters and Critics

Cynthia Flood’s stories have won numerous awards, including The Journey Prize and a National Magazine award, and have been widely anthologized. Her novel Making A Stone Of The Heart was nominated for the City of Vancouver Book Prize in 2002. She is the author of the acclaimed short story collections The Animals in Their Elements (1987) and My Father Took A Cake To France (1992). She lives on Vancouver’s East side.

April ● World ● First Publication ● 5 ½ x 8 ½ ● 200 pp
Softcover 978-1-897231-56-2

Jason Guriel, Robert Moore and Norm Sibum read this Thursday at Drawn & Quarterly in Montreal

Véhicule Press, Wolsak & Wynn and Biblioasis
invite you to a triple poetry launch:

Pure Product, Jason Guriel Figuring Ground, Robert Moore The Pangborn Defence, Norm Sibum

Thursday, April 23
7:00 pm
Drawn & Quarterly Bookstore
211 Bernard Street West, Montreal

Jason Guriel, Pure Product
In his second book of poems, Jason Guriel cuts a dazzling figure—whipsmart,charismatic, with a mischievousness always eager to play for more serious stakes. Guriel’s way of seeing the world is low-key and sly: he shows us the big picture by enumerating all the small ones. Although a zealous celebrator of ordinariness, his tightly turned lines have the courage of their own spiky oddity.
[Véhicule Press]

Robert Moore, Figuring Ground
In a darkly elegant collection of verse, Robert Moore examines his family, his future and cows. These poems border on noir, with the collection interspersing philosophy, sardonic wit and arresting imagery. From the "unlikely pair of cupcakes" that are his Mother's girlhood friends, to the philosophizing cows that end the book, this is a collection of unexpected turns, intricate verse and a strong, original voice.
[Wolsak & Wynn]

Norm Sibum, The Pangborn Defence
Norm Sibum's The Pangborn Defence marks a departure from his previous verse, and will be something of a surprise for those who have followed his career over the last thirty years. A suite of poems as letters to personages both real and imagined, there are political undertones to many rarely seen in Sibum's ouevre. But there is still the same attention to detail, the same craftsmanship, humour, love and originality.

For more information contact:

Maya Assouad, Marketing Manager, Véhicule Press

Vehicule Press

Wolsak & Wynn


White Dogs and Warhol

White Dogs and Warhol and Other New Drawings
by Tony Calzetta

You are invited to the opening of my exhibition
Thursday, April 23 from 6 to 8 pm
at the Fran Hill Gallery Show Room
285 Rushton Road, Toronto

Gallery hours are Saturday and Sunday from 11 am to 6 pm or by appointment
In addition, for the duration of the exhibition I will be at the gallery Thursdays from 4 to 7 pm

Preview a selection of images at

Text by John Metcalf:

What are these strange shapes, these tree-things, these ruins, these castle-like buildings, these rockets or missiles, or meteors that whoosh from splendid skies? It is difficult to define them and that is exactly Calzetta’s intention. Conceptual artist Damien Hirst entitled his stuffed shark floating in formalin The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living, a pretentious title suggesting dark profundity. Tony Calzetta entitles one of the oil pastels shown here — a sort of tree, two mounds, and an exploding rocket-like thing — White Dogs and Warhol. His titles, bearing no relationship to the drawings whatever, discourage definitions and speculation. The shapes that inhabit his canvases and drawings have no meaning we can paraphrase. His aim is a purely aesthetic one; we can only respond visually. He invites into a world of sumptuous colour and strange drama, into a world crisply conjured in dense charcoal and graphite. His work is filled with a massive energy. That charged energy keeps flooding out. These paintings and drawings never die on the wall. We cannot over time come to ignore them. They brim with life and joy and humour and set up a perpetual clamour for attention. Their élan energizes us.

John Metcalf is currently writing Marigold Mumble: The Art of Tony Calzetta.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Crazy Jane Curses Her ReMaker

Wayne Clifford's Jane Again arrived yesterday, and she looks fabulous. Though she's not at all courtly, and evidenced in this second poem from the collection CrazyJane Curses her Remaker.

Crazy Jane Curses her Remaker

Who thinks he knows a self
that never was but song
a man once used for shelf
to rest his pretense on

has doubled breadth to Her
Who Measures out the Fire
thru which you call me here,
so intent on answer.

You fail to see I’m bait
the question’s set aslant.
If you can’t see the back,
my face convince you yet,

as Helen took in Faust,
and, succubal temptress,
so usered him the cost
embalmed in each caress,

that once belief had spread
through every of his senses,
desire turned to dread
to pinch his own pretenses.

May what fame be sudden
as grass kindling;
all you guess, hidden,
endless riddling;
may trust be rotten;
vows piddling.

May beggar ghosts wheedle
what god you surmise
to bless your eye by needle

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Bill Douglas's Cover Love and a first look at our Moody Food

Bill Douglas, designer extraordinaire, has started a new blog, Cover Love Etcetera, which can be found here. He currently has a post on the cover, seen above, for this fall's Biblioasis Renditions reprint of Ray Robertson's great rock and roll novel Moody Food, pictured above. It's the third version of the book he's done, including the early Doubleday and the US edition. Go to his blog to see the others. I must say: I like ours best.

Also learned Bill publishes a mag, Coupe, experimental visual art and culture. Going to have to check it out.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Leon Rooke's and Tony Calzetta's How God Talks in His Sleep

First glimpses of the fabulous Artist Book How God Talks in His Sleep, a collection of fabulous fictions by Leon Rooke and equally as fabulous artwork by Tony Calzetta, including the above pop up. Can't wait to see it. Looks like there will be a sister production called Peculiar Practices as well.

For more information, please go here.

Johnson's Dictionary

Today marks the 254th anniversary of the publication of Samuel Johnson's Dictionary. In homage, and because I don't know what else I have to offer this day, as I work to put the finishing touches on two grants due this afternoon, I'll leave you with the preface to Johnson's Dictionary. (I tried to find a Google link to the whole things, assuming that surely, with its hundreds of thousands -- or millions -- of public domain titles, I'd be able to quickly find a scan of it, and failed. Went to Scribd instead.)

Preface to a Dictionary of the English Language by Samuel Johnson Preface to a Dictionary of the English Language by Samuel Johnson Word Public Library

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Derek Weiler, 1968-2009

Derek Weiler, editor at Quill & Quire and friend of literary publishers everywhere, died this past weekend at the age of 40. I've had numerous conversations and exchanges with Derek over the last couple of years, and he was always generously thoughtful and supportive. We had him down to Windsor in 2007 to take part in Bookfest Windsor; he stocked up on the moleskines he found here more cheaply than almost anywhere else, and likely filled one of them with notes while he was here, taking them even in the middle of the panel discussion he was part of. We had some time at the AfterWords party to sit and chat.

He was a gentleman, with a quick smile and a generous sense of humour, who didn't let you get away with much, though he often let you off gently. We'll miss him. Our condolences to his wife, family, and all of his Q&Q co-workers.

his Q&Q obituary can be found here.

Kahn & Engelmann: A sneak peak

It pains me to say that I received a call today to say that Kahn & Engelmann should arrive in hand by tomorrow morning. That Hans missed seeing the publication of the English edition of his novel by a mere few dozen hours. It was one of the things I most looked forward to this Spring: putting a copy of the book in his hands. He was so pleased by the initial responses to the book -- the starred Quill & Quire review, the Harbourfront launch, much else besides -- and we expected so much from this book ...

We still do, of course, and will be doing everything we can to put K&E out in front of as many readers as we possibly can.

As we did a week or so ago with Terry's forthcoming Thought You Were Dead, we offer here a sneak peak of Eichner's Kahn & Engelmann, and hope that you'll enjoy it as much as we have.

Kahn&Engelmann Kahn&Engelmann biblioasis A critical and commercial success in German, Kahn & Engelmann tells the story of a Jewish family from rural Hungary, their immigration to Vienna in the great days of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, their loves, business ventures and failings, and their eventual tragic destruction. Narrated by Peter Engelmann, who wishes only to forget his past, this highly original novel recreates a vanished Vienna with salty humour and humanity. In a voice which is appealing without being sentimental, Peter describes his escape from the Nazis through snowy woods, his attempts to start a new life in England and Canada, and his decision to immigrate to Israel. Written by an eminent scholar, himself a survivor of Nazism, Kahn & Engelmann is both an entertaining novel and a major work of Holocaust literature.

Kahn & Engelmann is a lively and affectionate story … one of the finest novels I’ve read all year. – Hans-Harald Müller, Literaturkritik

Only rarely does a novel depict the atmosphere of Jewish life as authentically as Hans Eichner’s Kahn & Engelmann. – Evelyn Adunka, Literaturhaus

Hans Eichner was born into a Jewish family in Vienna, Austria in 1921. He escaped from the Nazis to Belgium, then England. After earning a Ph.D. at the University of London, Eichner immigrated to Canada, where he became Head of the German Department at the University of Toronto and a widely published author of books on German Romantic literature. Hans Eichner now lives in Rockwood, Ontario. Kahn & Engelmann, his first novel, was a critical and commercial success in Austria and Germany.

What Do They Mean? ( A Cynthia Flood Post)

To a child, teachers seem coarse in their perceptions. Stupid, really. Can't they see that it's useless ordering a mean girl not to be mean? Do they seriously expect anyone to inform on a popular girl? Why do they smile and lean so close, showing their ugly gums and wrinkles to girls already scared witless by having to recite before the whole class?

Such bewildering behaviour. When writing The English Stories I sometimes felt that bewilderment again, though as a (coarse and stupid) adult myself Icould now see better what those teachers, or mistresses as the English then said, were trying to do.

Still clearer, as the writing went on, was the fact of the two solitudes within the school: the girls, the adult women. They were so close, what with hours and hours and hours daily in the same rooms and at the same dining-tables and on the same playing fields -- yet separate, even speaking different Englishes.

That near/far relation turns up often in The English Stories, not only at the boarding school but also at the small residential hotel. There live the Talbot twins, Milly and Tilly, together for nearly eight decades, dressed always in not quite identical clothing. The two love and hate each other intensely, but neither knows the essential story of her sister's life.

Two other residents, the newly-married Bellands, both idealize the calm safety of domestic life after the horrors of World War II. Each is mystified, though, by the other's plans for attaining that place of peace. They speak but can't make sense of each other's words -- can hardly hear them, really. Each sees the other as lost in illusion. (I think they both are, but that's another matter.)

Gerald and Rachel Ellis, Amanda's parents, have been married far longer and have a quite baroquely developed public persona as a couple. They too, though, find their mates puzzling. They too can't make themselves clear, in spite of being highly literate and literary. Habits, tastes, pleasure, memories, the whole shared culture of a pair -- they're not enough to enable true understanding.

And of course they are both lovingly blind to their daughter. As she is blind to them. . . .

POW Poetry Festival this weekend in Cobourg, Ontario

Below, information for this weekend's Cobourg Poetry Festival. Mike Barnes will be discussing his memoir The Lily Pond on Saturday afternoon, and Diane Kuprel and Marek Kubisa qill be doing a bi-lingual reading from their translation of Ryszard Kapuscinski's I Wrote Stone Saturday evening. On Sunday, I'll be there on a panel with fellow publishers Tim Inkster and Beth Follett on the state of the book.

Thu Apr 16 - Sun Apr 19, 2009

With less than a month to go, Cobourg's inaugural 2009 POW! Festival - Poetry'z Own Weekend Festival - is moving into high gear. Some of Canada's finest poets are scheduled to read from their work over the 4-day event. POW! features poetry readings, lecture presentations, discussions exploring the world of poetry, a special session designed for kids, and a panel exploring the subject, "Whither the Book/Wither the Book.

Scheduled for April 17 thru 19, poets Mike Barnes, Jacqueline Larson, Paul Brown, Ted Amsden and Cobourg Poet Laureate Eric Winter are some of the poets signed up for the event. Professional actor David Calderisi will present the works of Robert Service, John Keats and Samuel Taylor Coleridege in an evening of recitation from memory.

POW! celebrates National Poetry Month across Canada. The municipal council of the Town of Cobourg has officially designated April 16 thru 19 as "Poetry Weekend in Cobourg."

Conceived by Cobourg poet James Pickersgill, the idea for the festival was inspired by an annual weekend festival held in Cobalt, Ontario. "If they can have a successful festival way up there," he thought, "why not in Cobourg?", a town that has become a sought after venue for out-of-town poets to read their work through the auspices of the Cobourg Poetry Workshop which holds monthly public readings of the work of local poets. Such a CPW evening will precede the festival on Thursday April 16 with poets Edward Carson, Carla Johnson and Grahame Woods presenting their work at "Meet At 66 King East," where the POW! Fesitval will be held in the inviting surroundings of a unique bistro overlooking Victoria Park and, beyond that, Lake Ontario.

"Many out-of-town poets and publishers already view Cobourg as a poetry place," Pickersgill noted, "but they will be convinced of that now that Town Council has declared POW's Thursday to Sunday as Poetry Weekend in Cobourg."

Admission to the 6 festival events is $6 each or a Weekend Pass can be purchased for $30.00. Admission to the 6.30 pm Opening Reception on Friday April 17 is $10 which includes a glass of wine and hors d'oeuvres. All tickets can be purchased by going to Meet at 66 King East, by phoning (905) 372-7616 or by emailing

Other poets in the full weekend line-up are: Carmine Starnino, JonArno Lawson, Art Cockerill, Linda Hutsell-Manning, JoEllen Bogart, Diana Kuprel, Marek Kubisa, Karen Dukes, Roz Bound, Marta Cooper, Oana Avasilichioaei and Ronna Bloom.

Other participants include Juno-nominated children's singer Eddie Douglas and 3 book publishers, Tim Inkster (Porcupine's Quill), Beth Follett (Pedlar Press) and Dan Wells (Biblioasis).

POW! acknowledges the support of the Canada Council for the Arts and the League of Canadian Poets.

More information on the internet:

Monday, April 13, 2009

Rebecca Rosenblum: A Portrait

Above a portrait of Rebecca Rosenblum, recently completed by Alan Dayton. It is part of a series -- his second, as he did one of these in the 90s (I have the catalogue, and it is excellent) -- on Canadian writers. Others in the series will include, from what I gather, Russell Smith and Sharon English, among many others. I look forward to seeing other portraits in the series.

For Rebecca's thoughts on this portrait check out her own blog post here.

Hans Eichner

I returned home last evening to learn that Hans Eichner, the author of the forthcoming Kahn & Engelmann, passed away early Friday morning from pneumonia. Though I'd only met Hans once, a year and a half ago, I found him quite charming, and was looking forward to getting to know him better over the coming months. He'd waited near a dozen years to see K&E brought out in English, and worked closely with translator Jean Snook to ensure that it worked as well in English as it had in the German; it is quite obvious that he was a gentle man, of deep wisdom, intelligence, humility and humour. Our deepest sympathies go out to his wife Kari and his family.

Books Are Still Our Friends (a Rebecca post)

Despite my best efforts to encourage book-love and -kindness, it seems there are still a multitude of ways to wrong our lovely literature. Ever vigilant, I have captured on film (well, on memory card) some of the most egregious mis-endeavours I could find, and posted them here with some better ideas for those who wish, as I know all Thirsty readers do, to be true friends to books everywhere.

Books are not currency.

Incorrect: paying the tab with prose.

Correct: paying with some sort of paper that has limited text, but elegant illustrations of British monarchs.

Books are not delicious.

Incorrect: devouring the Journey anothology.

Correct: order the chocolate lava cake.

Books are not a prison.

Incorrect: book barricade.

Correct: smothering love.

Books will never love you back.

Incorrect: blowing kisses at CanLit.

Correct: blowing kisses at Canadian writers.

Life is difficult, and books can help...but in return, we have to make sure not to put our books in situations they don't belong, where they might be abused, clawed, or gnawed. Books do so much for us, and it is easy to return the favour--read them!


PS--Thanks awfully to the beautiful and bookish models: Claudia, Shannon, Mindy, Penny, Dani, Julie, Alice, the Journey gang, and the baffled but kindly staff at Circle Thai restaurant.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

The GritLit Report (a Rebecca post)

This past weekend, I was a (small) part of the wonderful Hamilton literary festival, GritLit. Held at the Art Gallery of Hamilton and the Sky Dragon Centre, GritLit is four days of amazing writers reading and amazing audiences appreciating (and asking good questions.

I am completely ill-equipped to give you a report on the proceedings, because I was ill with laryngitis for the weekend, and only barely made it to my own reading, let alone anyone else's. I missed Andrew Pyper, Maggie Helwig, Ray Robertson, and tonnes more amazing folks (that is the saddest name-drop ever, isn't it--people I didn't see or talk to). But I still managed to get the sense of the fest from my Short Story Afternoon reading with Lien Chao and Pamela Stewart, which covered immigration, cunnilingus, and cognitive behaviour therapy in three brief readings and a really stellar Q&A. I was really thrilled by the engagement and enthusiasm of our listeners, and thrilled to be able to answer in an audible voice (Sunday was my first day of real speaking this weekend and I was pretty excited about it).

Here, for no real reason, is a picture of my pre-reading freak-out with my dear friend Kim. I was very very worried, but the inability to hold up my head is not related.

In a post-reading mood of celebration that was probably ill-advised but much enjoyed, I wandered the streets of Hamilton in sunshine and good company and eventually turned up at the Bread and Roses Cafe for the author dinner. Which was delicious, and included both soup and tea, so I was able to stay more or less audible throughout. Although I had to leave before the evening's poetry reading, because I was about to keel over. At least I got to *meet* the poets whose reading I was missing, including Biblioasis brother-in-arms Mike Barnes, pictured below at Bread and Roses with his wife, Heather.

I hear from my spies in the trees that the evening went well, and I have no doubt that this was so. I went home and immersed myself in cough suppressant.

Don't worry, Dan will be back next week with more cogent entries than this!


Friday, April 03, 2009

Thought You Were Dead: A Sample Chapter

Well, I'm out of here for a week at day's end, building castles in the sand -- pretty much what I do as a publisher -- and relaxing with the fam. Things might be a bit quiet around these parts while I'm away, there'll be a reprieve, no more ceaseless chatter. Though there's always the slight chance that a Rebecca or Mike or Cynthia or Shane might take over the controls. And if I bring my laptop, perhaps I might torture you with snapshots of a publisher at leisure (a rare sighting). Though, then again, perhaps it would be better if I did not: don't want to spoil the illusion.

Though since I care so much for my three dedicated followers, I'll leave you with a small gift: the first chapter of Terry Griggs's marvellous Thought You Were Dead. To whet your appetite, so to speak. And if you get lonely, you can always return and read it again: it merits a revisit or two.

PS: Click on the button in the upper corner and it will come up as a full screen.

Thought You Were Dead First Chapter

Thought You Were Dead a novel Terry Griggs THOUGHT YOU WERE DEAD Thought You W er e D ea d A NOVEL T er r y Griggs BIBLIOASIS Copyright © Terry Griggs, 2009 Illustrations Copyright © Nick Craine, 2009 all rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. f i r s t ed i t i o n Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication Griggs, Terry Thought you were dead : a novel / Terry Griggs. isbn 10: 1-897231-53-9 isbn 13: 978-1-897231-53-1 I. Title. ps8563.r5365 t48 2009 c813’.54 c2009-900927-7 Cover design and illustrations by Nick Craine. We gratefully acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts, Canadian Heritage, and the Ontario Arts Council for our publishing program. pr i n t e d an d b o u nd i n ca na da For me 1 FAQs THE DOGHOUSE that Chellis currently found himself in was meant for a much smaller doggie, a bad pup the size of Bunion or Hormone. Two miscreants if ever there were. Rats with ruffs and canine pretensions. Their messes on the floor were substantial, considering, and not metaphorical in the least. Why was censure made of such inflexible material? The doghouse was clamped on his back, and he could feel it chaffing and wobbling as he edged snailwise toward the ringing phone. (Rotary – none of this trilling and burbling for Chellis.) And guilt? It was the toxic pressure-treated wood of the psychological lumberyard. Hello? Elaine, finally. It had been weeks. “Laney.” Hey, hey. Forgiven. “Chel. What are you doing?” “Eating my crusts.” “Good boy.” End of conversation. But still. The molecular structure of the doghouse shifted. It was not exactly spandex yet, nor a swish little retirement home for his misdeeds, but matters were clearly improving. Weren’t they? Mrs. Havlock called next. What a sociable afternoon. “Are you free, Chellis dear?” A summons disguised as a question. Would he like to eat something other than humble pie? And crusts? “As a bird.” “A body is involved.” She pronounced this bawdee, incarnating it in his ear, making it all vowelly and fat. “Another one?” “Don’t be cheeky. I’m not quite sure what to do with this one.” “I’m sure you’ll think of something brilliant.” 11 “Exactement. Six for drinkies?” “Six it is, Lady MacBee.” That woman had so much blood on her hands. Midday and Chellis was still in his jammies. Now that there was some cause to, he sloughed those off, and stepped into his Jolly Roger boxers, jeans, and pulled on a no-logo T. As Mrs. Havlock required maturity in the footwear that crossed her threshold, he slipped on his vintage Beatle boots over a pair of cotton Happyfoots. Black jacket, can’t go wrong with that, especially one with potato chips in the pocket. He performed a quick vanitas scan in the bathroom mirror. Ears, eyes, lips, teeth – nothing missing or untoward. Hunkus bolus. Not Dead Yet anyway, which was the family motto . . . of the extant members that is, of which he happened to be the only one. Orphaned by the whole irresponsible lot of them. Forget the Sunday roast, crokinole and Trivial Pursuit at Christmas, hand-me-down, crumbridden toasters and all of the other dubious fringe benefits of family life, he was a free radical circulating in the social blood stream. Chellis tipped his head back for a nose hair check, and stared admiringly up nasal canals so clear he could see all the way to Mars. Wait, that was his brain, a marvel in itself, red hot and whirring away, formulating question after profound question. Why, why, why? So many synapses were firing that his head sounded like a bug zapper. Here was a puzzler: how could she love someone with beige hair? That’s what he couldn’t quite grasp. The stuff was scarily synthetic. It looked as if it belonged in the bathroom, a hair doily for the one-ply, or something you might use to exfoliate your chest with. He traced the shore of his own darkish (more or less) hairline (okay, less), but respectfully, so as not to give it migratory ideas. His friend Hunt’s forehead was now so vast, you had to walk clear round the back of him to confirm its conclusion. When had that happened? He’d have to call Hunt and enquire. But later. There were no epiphanic moments to be had driving through town, although Chellis kept his sensitivities on high alert. What would an epiphanic hour be like, he wondered? Or a whole day? Blow your brains out. He addressed a query to the Almighty Celebrity above, nothing too taxing, just making conversation, “Mein Gott, isn’t this a sleepy town?” In an effort to redeem a life sample, he 12 scrutinized painfully tidy houses with buff siding and seamless eaves troughs, lawns Killexed into astroturf, sidewalks blindingly white, cracks cleaned with a Q-tip. Where was everyone? Playing hockey? He flicked the dreamcatcher that was dangling from the rearview mirror (former owner) to keep it from getting clogged and sticky from the town’s subpar dreaming. Ah, but heading his way? Approaching his silver, second-hand, generic auto was another silver car, newer but exactly the same model, with a dreamcatcher dangling from its rearview mirror. Chellis gave the driver a comradely two-finger salute. His doppelgänger glared, attempted recognition, failed, drove on. “You shit,” he said mildly. “Carbon monoxide breath. Dangling participle.” As that was all the road rage he could muster, he motored on, satisfied. Was he too early? Mrs. Havlock didn’t appreciate early. Or late. He consulted his Vulgari, as Elaine called his ten dollar mall watch. At least it covered the vile and seemingly permanent rash he’d gotten from her Anti-Insomnia Bracelet. He should know better by now, but had unwisely agreed to test it out for her. With the cursed thing clamped on his wrist like a manacle, he had fallen asleep, but then woke up ten minutes later, screaming. After which he’d spent the rest of the night marinating in a vinaigrette of worry about unlikely occurrences involving asteroids, mice, and a severed head on a cake plate. It was only fourish, way too. Chellis didn’t want to end up in Mrs. H’s bad books, of which she had a few, although through no fault of his own. He does his bit. Clearly there was time for a detour, possibly down Elaine’s street, an accidental drive-by. No stopping? Not even if she happens to be standing in the middle of the road and flags him down? Not on your life. He sighed . . . my life. He hit the gas and came up behind a hybrid car with a Save the Adverb bumper sticker. Green sentiment, sense of humour, worthy cause, potential pantheist behind the wheel, bisexual haircut, colour that didn’t match the upholstery, man, Chellis approved of the whole package. His spirits lifted. He honked the horn as he peeled past, rolled down the window, and shouted, “Ya done good!” He pulled into Pnin’s Variety for a package of breath mints in preparation for a possible communicative incident. It wasn’t out of 13 the question, conversation could ensue. Hypothetically. Elaine had been known to stand stock-still in her driveway for minutes on end, clutching a bag of groceries, thinking. He’d arrive on the scene and awaken her from her reverie with his minty sweet breath – Zephyrus on wheels. Her bag of groceries would hit the blacktop, causing the eggs to tremble perilously in their carton and damaging Vaughan’s zucchini, or his bananas, whatever. They would engage in intercourse. Swift and hard, for she would promptly tell him to fuck off and die. Turns out smarty Elaine will have been working on the final, crucial details for her Axiomatic (a labour-saving device for the Lizzie Borden’s of the world), or some such invention, and he will have interrupted her yet again, sending her Go Train of thought zipping out of the station. Again? Yes, again, and would he please just go away. At least she said please. Hypothetically. And that was nice. Mrs. Pnin was behind the counter, looking grim. He had to wonder if the little Pninheads had pninworms again. Chellis chuckled, and she offered a tight smile back. “Murder, Chellis.” She held up a Star and pointed to the front page colour photo of two policemen and a suit crouched over a blanket-swathed lump on the ground with its feet sticking out. Unshod and bluish, none too fresh. “Tsk, terrible. Well, that’s Toronto for you.” “No, no, it happened in Claymore.” “Claymore? Good heavens!” “Practically next door.” “What does it say? Some family dispute? You know what they’re like over that way. Domestic deviants all, even the toddlers.” So that’s where everyone was, rubbernecking at the scene of the crime. “A man, unidentified. Not a local. A knife.” She stabbed a finger into the middle of her forehead. “Got that from Richard, you know Richard Major? He’s over by the low acid orange juice.” “Um.” Chellis almost broke his neck snapping it to look the other way, toward the door, thinking run away, run away. But he’d already been spotted and tagged. The guy was headed down the aisle toward him moving with a slick strut, as if his ankles were oiled. Richard Major, aka Dick Major, aka Major Dick, set a slim, shapely bottle on the counter – some ginseng-ginko-green tea-EDTA 14 concoction with writhing serpents on the label – and gave Chellis a brisk clap on the shoulder. “Chilly Willy, man, is that really you?” “Hey, Dicker.” High-school acquaintance, say no more. He’d check for a bruise later. “Man, this I cannot believe. Someone told me you were . . . uh, gone.” “Been keeping a low profile Dick, but not that low.” “Ha, so you back for a visit, or what? Can’t believe we all used to live in this hick town, eh?” “Yeah, ha. Yourself?” “The Big Smoke. Reputation management. Love it.” Dick gave the pocket of his slinky, pricey suit a promiscuous pat, slid his hand in, and pulled out a platinum card. This he presented to Mrs. Pnin, who was furiously scratching her head. “You?” “Me? Consulting.” Chellis delivered this not-entirely fabulist piece of information in a brusque, manly tone, as if blocking a punch. “That Lexus out front yours, Dick?” The one he’d dinged ever so slightly on the passenger side while wrenching open his own cheap, piece-of-crap car door? “Yep,” Dick smiled. “Nice.” Chellis smiled back. While waiting for Dick to sign for the drink, Mrs. Pnin was now absentmindedly scratching her plump white arm with his card, scooping her DNA onto it like dip on a cracker. This reminded Chellis of that cadaverous appetizer Elaine made last year for Halloween, goblin green it was and served in a cunning pottery skull. Exhumus she called it. It was quite a hit. “Say, what about this murder business?” Chellis asked. “I hear you’ve got the inside story, Dick?” And didn’t he always? “Nah, not me. Know some of the cops involved, but they don’t give much away.” He turned to sign the receipt and retrieve his card. His signature amounted to nothing more than a tail with a tiny head, a perky sperm. “Thanks, Mrs. Pnin. Gotta go. Good seein’ you again, Chilly. Wait’ll I tell Di, man, she always thought you were hilarious. Ever in the city, eh, look us up.” “Sure thing.” How about that, old Dicker had gotten hitched to Diane Ryder. One of the glyceride twins, Di and Mona, very bad for 15 your health. And now it was Dick and Di? There was a moralistic little slogan for you. “Drive carefully,” was his chirpy addendum. It was the most bruising thing he could think to say, but apropos, considering that Richard Major had killed Elaine’s best friend. Chellis perused the breath mints, moodily. “So, Mrs. Pnin, how are the kids these days? They enjoying school?” Mrs. Pnin resumed her grim expression. “Lice,” she said. * Chellis entered the Twilight Zone, the nob-hilly part of town where the Big Bad Wolf didn’t even bother to stray, for the houses were all made of brick and solidly mortared with privilege. Here serenity lay so thick it had a nap you could rub between your fingers. The windows were bowed, the gardens lush, the maples towered – although not for long, seeing as the trees were being quietly undermined by the Asian longhorned beetle – the meek busily inheriting the earth. Elaine resided in this luxe neighbourhood thanks in part to her Comedo Vac, SuckZitUp, one of her more lucrative inventions, but mostly because of the Perfect Man’s pedigree and inheritance. He did also have a joblet. What was it, again? Oh yes, lawyer. Patents mainly. The Perfect Man’s perfect part-time play profession. Otherwise he picked pecks of pickled peppers. And being 100% ideal, he uncomplainingly performed other menial chores, and to prove it there he was in the driveway of 13 Hitchcock Crescent washing his Jag. Having forgotten his shades at home in the pocket of Uncle Bob – his leather jacket and only relative – Chellis was attempting to peer out of the corners of his eyes without turning his head. He didn’t want to get caught gawping. Viewing dear Vaughan was like observing luck incarnate. So much good fortune had been invested in the man that it was hard to see how he contained it all. No wonder his muscles bulged. Chellis did feel that muscles in general, and the Perfect Man’s in particular, were highly overrated. There was something alarmingly geographic about them. High maintenance, too. If Chellis wanted a six-pack he’d head for the beer store, as would any intelligent individual. Vaughan had on a Stanley Kowalski undershirt (as 16 played by Marlon), a pair of Khaki shorts straight out of some Asian sweatshop (go beetles go!), and appeared to be wearing a shammy cloth for a hat. No, wait, that was his hair. Perfect. He could polish the car with his head. Might as well use it for something. No sign of Elaine. She’d be hard at work, ferreted away somewhere deep in the house, hand sunk up to her elbow in a bucket of wingnuts. Chellis considered stopping on some fictional pretext. He could ask to use the phone – there was that urgent matter to discuss with Hunt – or the bathroom, speaking of urgencies: veni, vidi, wee wee. Although it was usually a bad idea to venture into Elaine’s bathroom, locus of many trial-inventions. One’s most valued extremities were always in danger there. Stepping on a weigh scale could be like stepping on a land mine. The last time he’d visited, he stuck his finger in what he took to be a sample of Vaughan’s hair product – a clear gel substance prematurely ejaculated from its fancy tube onto the counter – and had ended up dancing around the room in excruciating pain as his finger sizzled and burned. Nah, no stopping. He was already in her bad books, and only today apparently had begun to worm his way out. No point in blowing it. He had been unjustly accused, mind. How was he supposed to know? And . . . what was that? Having finally divested his gaze from the spectacle of the labouring husband, Chellis noticed a peculiar conical-shaped, tent-like structure on the front lawn. It appeared to be made of straw (Big Bad Wolf take note). What, the Champions had company? From the South Seas? Mysteries were compounding as the day progressed. The thing shuddered slightly as he drifted past. Time to kill, he drove up and down the streets of the well-heeled on the lookout for an Open House. Finding a Hunt Realty sign stuck on one of these prim lawns would be sweet, for that would amount to a Wide Open House and possibly some liquid refreshment. No dice. There wasn’t a single faux-Georgian or pseudo-Tudor on the market. Everyone happy happy happy. Not an itchy foot in the whole place. Unless the residents had already fled to their play houses in Tuscany, where they could live more intensely and experience anecdotally rich crises with the plumbing, their lean cheeks plumped out with fatta in casa con il rosmarino e la salvia. Seems Chellis remembered a time when KKK stood for something else other than the price tag of a house. 17 Hunt wouldn’t mind getting his hands on one of these babies, but usually got stuck with the handyman specials over in their part of town. Funny, you didn’t really need to travel halfway around the world for cheap wine, colourful peasantry, and no-show contractors. The other side of the tracks would suffice. He dawdled along, taking in the scenery, and spotted two Beware of Dog signs, and one Beware of Human. Beware of Wag, more like, although some jokes did constitute useful advice. How did someone end up with a knife slotted in his head like one of those wooden kitchen blocks? Too busy watching his back? Montenegro, he thought. Good film, although the only part he could recall was the guy wandering around with a knife stuck in his forehead, a genuine sinus buster. He decided that it was a shade corny this murder, as far as genre goes. A cozy – if not for the victim. Tempus fugit and so did Chellis. Somehow he’d messed around too long and was late. He sped out of town toward Mrs. Havlock’s country place. The town sign pleaded ingratiatingly in a tourist script, begging for a return visit: PLEASE COME AGAIN, WE’D LOVE TO SEE YOU!!! The flip side was even worse: WELCOME TO FARCLAS! CANADA’S PRETTIEST TOWN HOME OF THE CHAMPION POWER TOOL BIRTHPLACE OF DELORES ‘SHAKE IT’ DELANGE FRIENDLY, SAFE, FUN!! A GREAT PLACE TO GROW YOUR HAIR!!! Oh yeah? 18 About the Author Terry Griggs is the author of Quickening, which was shortlisted for the Governor General’s Award, The Lusty Man, and Rogues’ Wedding, shortlisted for the Rogers Writer’s Trust Fiction Prize. Her children’s books Cat’s Eye Corner, The Silver Door, and Invisible Ink have been nominated for multiple children’s writing awards. In 2003, Terry Griggs was awarded the Marian Engel Award in recognition of a distinguished body of work. She lives in Stratford, Ontario. photo: david burr About the Illustrator Nick Craine has illustrated two acclaimed screenplay adaptations for filmmaker Bruce McDonald: Dance Me Outside: The Illustrated Screenplay and Portrait of a Thousand Punks: Hard Core Logo. His illustrations have appeared in The Washington Post, The New York Times, UTNE Reader and elsewhere. He is currently at work on a collaborative book project with author and book designer, Angel Guerra. He lives in Guelph, Ontario with his lovely family. photo: sandy atanasoff M eet the Perfect Man... no, no, he’s not the hero of Thought You Were Dead. That would be Chellis Beith, literary researcher, slacker, reluctant detective, and a man bedevilled by every woman in his life. There’s his lost love, Elaine Champion, a now happily married inventor who uses him for market research, his best friend’s dotty ex-wife, Moe, his two vanished mothers, and his menacing boss, Athena Havlock, a celebrated writer who herself becomes involved in the dark side of fiction. The humour is wild, the language a thrill, the mystery within marvellously deft and daft. And as for the Perfect Man... well, nothing is as it seems. Is it? Thought You Were Dead is the most unconventional of all murder mysteries, turning the genre completely on its head, skewering cliché and staid sensibilities with evident glee, and is further evidence that Terry Griggs is sui generis: an original and completely inimitable literary voice. “Griggs’s talent for creating engaging characters, both major and minor, her inventiveness with language, her mischievous humour and her refreshing sense of the absurd are sure to please and delight.” —The Kitchener/Waterloo Record $19.95 CAN / $18.95 US BIBLIOASIS EMERYVILLE , CANADA w w w. b i b l i o a s i s . c o m