Excerpt from Boredom Fighters, “Introduction”

Boredom Fighters, “Introduction”

Hello. There are a few things that seem to pop for us:

1/ pushing comic graphics to excess (lots of bubbles, lots of booms and lots of non-words)
2/ overwhelmingly gendered perspectives and narratives
3/ politically engagement (we are thinking of the environment-all the time)

We were reading an articles today written by psychologist Pierce J. Howard (Director of Research at the Centre for Applied Cognitive Studies), when two things struck us:

1/ “Moods are temporary. When an emotional state is permanent, as in continual sadness [or boredom – we’re interchanging the mood], that is a trait, not a mood. Typically, such traits cannot be changed without pharmaceuticals, surgery or therapy.”

He goes on to say that moods can be managed … with a simple five minute outdoor walk, among other things (we need light, air, exercise, change of pace)…

2/ Howard suggests that the probable cause of boredom is that a task is too easy.

If boredom becomes a trait, we surmised, then mothers smash sons with vacuum cleaners, schools soporificize students in greasy cafeterias, governments crush the rebellious with plasma screens. Strangely, it’s the ‘easy talk’ that causes boredom and yet there is nothing more difficult to manage than having nothing to do. Of course, we believe it is obscene and unethical to be without ‘doings.’ Just yesterday we received a letter from neo-Situationalist who said, “I remind you both that ‘Boredom in Counter-Revolutionary’.”


For more information about Boredom Fighters or to purchase the book, please click here.

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Excerpt from Art or War, “Focus and Vision: Viktor Mitic’s Precise Bullets”

Focus and Vision: Viktor Mitic’s Precise Bullets

Viktor Mitic’s paintings shimmer and move. They look back at you. They hunt you down. Maybe it’s the oil or acrylic, the gold leaf or exotic pigments used. Perhaps, even, the light that emanates from the perfect holes created by his point-blank bullets.

Mitic says that “channelling the proper energy” and “choosing the right ammo” for his bullet paintings is very important, and I believe him. He is classically trained, with the skill of a marksman. Mitic has painted portraits of Jean Chretien, Lucien Bouchard, and Preston Manning. He knows how to please the nervous Conservative, and he can certainly do Traditional with flair. A trickster, and not one to cower from controversy, Mitic has taken a creative stance and begun shooting bullets into his paintings. To date he has shot paintings of Ghandi, Nelson Mandela, Benazir Bhutto, John F. Kennedy, and other iconic figures from politics and popular culture. And, as Ewan Whyte writes in his Preface, there is “no scattershot, no wild swing of the gun without thought.”

On a recent trip to Montreal, I stopped in at Drawn and Quarterly Books. I hadn’t been to the store before, but sought it out because I had been thinking about Mitic’s work and Tightrope’s vision of having writers respond to his bullet paintings. I was thinking about how the writers would offer new perspectives and insights, tap into the energy of the paintings, discuss what was triggered (sorry, couldn’t resist) by Mitic’s bullets. I was looking for academic insights for pulling these concepts together. Drawn and Quarterly has a wonderful collection of graphic novels and art books. When graphic novels first came out I remember thinking there was no way they would last—people want “real” literature, not comic books. I couldn’t have been more wrong. The energy of the bookstore was phenomenal. Literature had morphed with art, and apparently I had missed the transformation. The younger generation has whole-heartedly embraced a new way of telling stories and reading text through images. Imagine!


For more information about Art or War or to purchase the book, please click here.

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Excerpt from Confessions of a Reluctant Cougar, “Man #1020”

Man #1020

Screen name: Renaissance Man

Favourite Quote: “If music be the food of love, play on, / Give me excess of it; that surfeiting, / The appetite may sicken, and so die.”

Self-description: Confident, hopeless romantic who will read you poetry and take walks along the moonlit beach with you.

Likes: Smart, sexy, petite women. Exotic types.

Dislikes: Smokers, drinkers, sex addicts,

Religion: Christian

Favourite movie moment: Charlton Heston parting the Dead Sea in The Ten Commandments.

Motto: “I’ll sleep when I’m dead.”

Sex is all about the love with him “neo-Platonic” love to be exact. Connected to God and to all living things. He confounds her with elevated talk, spiritual idealism, and antiquated romantic notions.

“You are like a rose,” William says enigmatically.

“Does that mean I have thorns?” she teases, sweeping back her thick brown hair.

“No, you haven’t any. You’re a red rose with a hint of black. And eyes like Countess Bathory.”

Olivia smiles serenely, as though men have been treating her this way for centuries. She wonders to herself, Is he for real?

Later she looks up Countess Bathory on the Internet and discovers she murdered her housemaids to bathe in their fresh, young blood. Countess Bathory thought she had discovered the secret to the fountain of youth. There were fifty-odd dead in the castle basement by the time they caught up with her. Most accounts describe her as a vampire—terrified of aging, remarkably seductive. Olivia wonders if William really knows the whole story or whether he just likes the name Bathory, having heard it in passing.

Olivia has been a member of half a dozen online dating sites without much luck, until now. No one ever turned out to be who they said they were. It wasn’t that they were liars, though some of them were. People were just short-sighted. They saw themselves as they wanted to be seen. Even after she had closed her accounts on most of the sites, she still saved a copy of each profile from the men she’d dated. She even created a profile for men she hadn’t met online. It turned out to be a good way to keep track of them, especially if she was dating more than one at a time. It was her own private Dewey Decimal System for relationships that she stored in a folder marked ‘Personal.”

Olivia and William are walking across the grassy quad at York where he is a TA in art history and religion classes. Several young girls with knapsacks and tight jeans—girls Olivia has long since learned not to envy—eye her boyfriend, trying to catch his attention with a smile or by tossing back their long hair.

William takes her hand as they’re walking. She looks over at his earnest profile, a face that betrays no trace of the hardship he says he has endured. It is unlined and unspoiled. At thirty-five, William is eighteen years younger than Olivia. The creases around her eyes soften in his company.

William brings her red roses. He kisses her voluptuously. He makes her believe in love again, instead of just sex.


For more information about Confessions of a Reluctant Cougar or to purchase the book, please click here.

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Excerpt from The Grammar of Distance, “Music of a Walk Through Leaves”

Music of a Walk Through Leaves

We’d walk home from school through fallen leaves,
hand in hand, the girl whose family owned the dairy.
She took piano lessons and sang in the choir.
She could raise a spring day with her song.
Sing the losses in me. Re-tune the world.

Since stepping ashore from the ship that
sometimes fuelled my dwindling dreams,
carrying my diminished life in a backpack,
providing my own running commentary to fill the silence,
I’ve revisited our walk over the years since she left,
trying to find the music of those leaves.
No trace, a random arrangement of notes.

Picture a grown man on leave from his senses,
testing his iron will, the thrust of his hands
through dead duff. Off in the harbour distance,
beyond arm’s length, the ship’s blasting horn,
if you see what I mean.

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Excerpt from “The Nights Also”

The nights also

Not only the lake like this, not only the low sun cutting the mist, and those three smooth ripples each side of the silent bow
but the nights also

Not only the microphone, the acceptance letter, the applause, the wide place past the treeline where we finally understand why we’ve come all this way

Not only the life we claim on our tax returns, not only the breakroom gossip, the lost umbrellas, the small triumphs of public transit

Not only the dreams we fortress with sandbags of will

Not only the ways we touch each other in public

Not only what we hang on the wall, what we polish for the in-laws, what we sort, schedule, tabulate, catalogue, and account for

Not only what we understand


For more information about The Nights Also or to purchase it, please click here.

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An excerpt from The Best Canadian Poetry 2010, “Introduction: Holding Feathers in Your Teeth”

INTRODUCTION: HOLDING FEATHERS IN YOUR TEETH

Naming takes place almost immediately after creation in the Book of Genesis. God, who perhaps understood the difficulty of the task, washed his hands of it and gave the responsibility to the man he’d just moulded from clay and spittle. There are two different kinds of Adams, according to Don McKay in one of his talks about poetry. The one who is the scientist, Don says, observes the animals, names them, and goes home happy to a warm supper and a good sleep, his job complete. The Adam who is the poet observes them, names them, goes home, and can’t eat or sleep. He knows he didn’t get it right and has to try again. And again.


For more information about The Best Canadian Poetry in English 2010 or to purchase it, please click here.

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An excerpt from “Paradox”, in Danila Botha’s Got No Secrets

Paradox

“Mother, mother, can you hear me? Sure I’m sober, sure I’m sane.

Life is perfect, never better, still your daughter, still the same.

My mother calls me immediately after dinner. My cellphone’s ring beats at my brain like a jackhammer; even though I have call display, I pick it up, just to make it shut up. She doesn’t know about anything that goes on in my life. She doesn’t know what subjects I’m taking, what I like studying, what I do any night of the week. She just wants to know that her investment is working out well—that her daughter will one day become a respected professional that is actually worth something. I hope I don’t live that long. I tell her that I’m fine, that the test went well, that I’m going to have to spend another night at the library. Another project for my abnormal psychology class. A lot of research. Periodicals, you know. I’ll probably see her in the morning, maybe.

I can’t believe she buys it.

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An excerpt from Best Canadian Essays 2010, edited by Alex Boyd and Kamal Al-Solaylee

INTRODUCTION

When 2009 was only a few weeks old, the world was still reeling from the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. The word “recovery”—the theme of the latter half of 2009—seemed more like wishful thinking than a reality. Still, some economists and business journalists seem to think that Canada was spared the banking meltdowns and real-estate collapse that brought the American economy—and the British, the Irish, Icelandic, you name it—to its knees. Our banking habits and national trait saved us from the worst consumerist excesses.

Out-of-work Canadians and cultural workers who’ve seen their already-meagre funding disappear before their eyes may disagree with this rosy picture, but as editors of The Best Canadian Essays 2010, we have ample evidence to suggest that as the world turned, ushering in a cycle of penny- pinching and overspending (a.k.a. stimulus), Canadian magazine writers managed to invest their capital in a range of timely and timeless stories. The economy may have dictated newspaper headlines, but introspection, and social and environmental concerns gave writers a chance to examine a bigger picture—one that transcends the ups and downs of trading indexes and banking scandals.

The anthology you’re about to read captures a year in the life of Canada through the eyes of several of its best essayists. For some, the word “essay” conjures up images of returning to school and being forced to write about your summer vacation, but we’re out to prove it isn’t a dirty word. These essays (sometimes even referred to as “stories” in correspondence with authors) cover everything from dog-sled racing up north to urban attempts to beat the aging process. Our writers contemplate subjects as personal as faith and as large as disturbing social trends. This is writing loaded with incisive observations and ideas.


For more information about Best Canadian Essays 2010 or to purchase the book, please click here.

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“Faces”, excerpted from Manuel for Emigrants, by Fraser Sutherland

Faces

You have a new face.

Living a life needs familiar faces, the faces of your family, of your friends.

I don’t recognize your face.

Or your family. Or your friends.

Somewhere down the line you chose the wrong mask.

Turn you face to the wall; show us the blank back of the head.

Blankness is something we recognize.

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Excerpt from The Mourner’s Book of Albums, by Daniel Scott Tysdal

WHAT IS MISSING

The night after the boy was kidnapped a group of teens got high and formed the Ministry of Pre-Emptive Memorials. The Minister of Stuffed Animals, The Minister of Flowers, and the Minister of Signed Letters and Anonymous Poems embarked with the others in pairs to locate the goods they’d been assigned to gather. Their work was finished by dawn, and they photographed it, though the memorial lacked the contribution of the Minister of Wreaths (who had been arrested lurking naked in the meat section of an all-night supermarket). The memorial did not bear witness to the boy. What the friends had prepared was meant to brace the world against a calamity yet to come. To keep it ready. Continue reading

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Excerpt from Wrong Bar, by Nathaniel G Moore

PART ONE: kiss the headlights and put it in neutral

I.

This dingy morning is half eaten.

The store feels empty.

I have been fidgeting by the colourful fish tanks with their hyper-turquoise glamour burbling in the reflection, while outside a prehistoric wind terrifies me with its malignant hissing; it wreathes harsh against the glass with the finesse of a poltergeist. Well, not finesse. It’s smearing the glass in a certain inhumane way: entirely relentless. Maybe finesse, maybe calculating.

A customer prods me with sea queries, reminding me I am not alone. The store is not empty.

“So they last a long time?” The woman is rushed; her eyes go across the tanks, over to a hamster wheel, and back to me. To me, she seems erratic and disenfranchised, not fully comprehending her role as caregiver.

“You’d be surprised,” I go. “How many would you like?” Then, giving a half-crescent smile, “As you may know, it’s half-price fish day here at Sloppy Salmon’s Wet Pet Centre.”

I add the word “wet” for syllabic resonance. Ten in the morning, four customers, and my face is already a clock of sweat, my skin iridescent and convivial. That’s probably not the right word. My skin tingles in chatter, if tingles could speak. Not tingles so much as itches.

Maybe it’s glue or something.

The mother asks her son what he thinks. The kid shrugs. I begin to unravel, not literally, of course—“Look, I’m under cover,” I tell them. I feel light-headed. “This is a sting operation.”


For more information about Wrong Bar or to purchase the book, please click here.

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“Oceanus Procellarum”, excerpted from Monster, by David Livingstone Clink

Oceanus Procellarum

Stories are handed down
about the first shapeshifters,

how they became the sky, earth, moon, stars,
the rain that collects in streams, lakes,

rivers, oceans, the snow that melts, the wind,
the dark firmament, with all their creations.

The Elder talks of one
who became a carnival, an amusement park

where people entered and went on rides,
his mouth a Ferris wheel, his arms the midway,

how he was found out, chased, cornered,
how he then stepped out of the gaslight

into forbidding darkness, and made
the triumphant leap to a cratered universe.


For more information about Monster, or to purchase the book, please click here.

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Exerpt from “Haunted: An Introduction”, found in In the Dark

Sitting down in your favourite armchair to read this book, you’ll hear the soft swish as you meander from story to story and you’ll think to yourself that the sound of paged turning is soothing. But that’s not the whisper of paper you hear, it’s something else.

Don’t you know? Ghosts haunt books more than any place else: the ghosts of past readers and borrowers, the ghosts of protagonists and antagonists. Ephemeral words have their own ghosts, spirits descending on the arcing trajectory of metamorphed ancient languages. There is no more spook- ridden activity than the reading of books.

And ghosts love books about ghosts more than anything else, for ghosts, if nothing else, are more self-absorbed than the living. So before you sit down quietly at 2:00a.m. ti read this book (for when you read a book of ghost stories, it is always 2:00 a.m.), there are some things I must tell you. Some things to warn you about…


For more information about In the Dark: Stories from the Supernatural or to purchase the book, please click here.

 

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A Thing Past, an excerpt from Come Closer, by Leanne Averbach

A Thing Past

may be plucked of a sudden from the well, its memory
cavity. No query is necessary, nor forwarding address.

It may arrive dull, meaningless, slathered in vague clutter,
or rise pristine to quake us, better

than ever from nowhere. It will peel us raw
in a flash—that muted ransom. It repeats, no will to resist,

harnessing us to the bed. It has a keen sense
of smell and fashion. It remembers a friend

of a friend who knew all about the incident. It is a witness
who doesn’t show up as you make the case again, again the indefinite

verdict, an urge to call someone. Hello? Am I okay? Ruby cascades
of elixir in your glass help alternately to hold it, send it back into the well, create

new files in which to keep it. That awkward taste of the half-
learned, the feel of being tattooed inside, an extra set of organs

for recalling. Out the window Canada Geese point elsewhere,
passports in their brains. They take one last look at themselves

in the lagoon before slipping off the radar as gulls scratch
the air, bragging winter-worthiness

through rubbery feathersuits and I drift
beneath the shadowy flim-flam of love.


For more information about Come Closer, or to purchase the book, please click here.

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