Tuesday, October 10, 6:30pm (readings begin at 6:50pm) Supermarket Restaurant, 268 Augusta, Toronto.
Tuesday, October 10, 6:30pm (readings begin at 6:50pm) Supermarket Restaurant, 268 Augusta, Toronto.
A guest post by Kathleen Anderson
The short fiction collection, For All the Men (and Some of the Women) I’ve Known, by Danila Botha is a finalist for the Trillium Book Award 2017, and I had the chance to chat with Danila about her nomination and her love of short storytelling. She was overjoyed when she learned that she was a finalist for the award, comparing the nomination to getting an incredible and unexpected present. “It’s wonderful for the book to be recognized like that, and it’s wonderful to be in the company of such incredible writers,” she said. “It’s an honour and I’m so thrilled.”
Our conversation about short stories sent Danila’s mind reeling with the many collections she’s read, as well as the long list of reasons that she loves the medium. “I really enjoy the economy of the form,” she said. “Every word and every sentence has to be quite meaningful. You sometimes have two or three sentences to tell a backstory, and I really like the challenge of that.”
The stories that make up For All the Men (and Some of the Women) I’ve Known, Danila’s second short fiction book, explore the complexity of love and relationships. Though there is connectivity between a few stories, each one holds the reader in a moment. We peer into the characters’ lives as they experience joy or confusion or heartbreak, and their emotions are real. The ability to pinpoint snapshots in time and draw the reader into individual moments of emotion makes short stories unique from longer fiction. “You can leave the reader in a place where they continue to wonder what happened to the character long afterward,” Danila said.
I asked Danila what writerly advice she would give if she could speak to her younger self. She had a long list: she’d tell herself to read a lot, remind herself to persevere through frustration and the many drafts that aren’t quite right, and assure herself that her work will be greeted by an incredibly warm and supportive community.
One of her key pieces of advice was about cultivating her own individuality as a writer and having confidence in her uniqueness. She said, “The things that are different about us, which can be scary because we love other people’s work for completely different reasons, are sometimes the things that are the most interesting about our work and the things that we should explore.” While she is captivated by the work of many other authors (for example, Etgar Keret’s ability to be simultaneously emotionally impactful and incredibly succinct, and Heather O’Neill’s “magical” metaphors), she insisted on the value of trusting her own instincts as a writer.
The Trillium Book Award nomination is an indication that her instinct has led her right. The book went through a long process to reach this point of celebration: from its initial inspiration that came from reading love-and-heartbreak-laden books, poems, and stories, such as Lynn Crosbie’s Liar; through her research process, where she spoke to people about their relationships; and through the writing process, sometimes frustrating, sometimes emotion-filled, but always underpinned with “an element of pure pleasure,” Danila said.
Now that the book has landed in the hands, eyes, and minds of its audience, Danila is effusively grateful for the encouraging and thoughtful response it has received. “You always feel a little bit vulnerable when something comes out, whatever it is,” she said, “especially when it’s emotional in nature. But people have been absolutely kind and supportive.”
You can find For All the Men (and Some of the Women) I’ve Known here.
Tightrope Books and Ronsdale Press present a special evening of poetry and fiction readings with Bruce Meyer (The Arrow of Time & A Chronicle of Magpies, Janette Platana (A Token of my Affliction), Elizabeth Ukrainetz (The Theory of Light at Midnight) and Ken Murray (Eulogy).
Wednesday, September 2, 6pm, Ben McNally Books, 366 Bay St, Toronto.
2016 Toronto Book Award Finalist!
2016 Hamilton Literary Award for Fiction Winner!
Winner of the 2016 Goldie Award for Dramatic/General Fiction!
In Marnie Woodrow’s second novel, two lively girls meet aboard a roller coaster in 1909 and a modern-day woman grieves the loss of a partner with whom she was not in love. Heyday is a double-barreled story about nostalgia, the soul’s quest for pleasure, and the power of love to endure through lifetimes.
“Heyday is both a fun, parallel romantic romp through time, and a heart-wrenching epic about timeless truths of the heart and the importance of seeking out what thrills us while we can. A stunning book.”—Zoe Whittall, author of Holding Still For as Long as Possible
“Heyday set across two centuries, tells an atmospheric story of carnival life and the human heart. Bette, Freddie and Joss soar and tumble like the roller coasters that enchant them, taking readers on a gripping and heartfelt ride.”—Nancy Jo Cullen, author of Canary
“Woodrow is a terrific writer. . . this is an entertaining page-turner.” —Susan G. Cole, NOW magazine
“The novel’s historical detail is evocatively realized, and uncompromising in its sense of immediacy and richness of atmosphere . . . the past and present timeline subtly connecting with small details.” —Kerry Clare, picklemethis.com
“Engrossing tale of love’s complexity . . . Woodrow (Spelling Mississippi) captures bygone and recent Toronto with graceful prose.” —Publishers Weekly
“Heyday is a thoughtful examination of what it means to love and be loved, and to maintain a fundamental sense of self in the process.”—Quill and Quire
“Marnie Woodrow’s latest novel since 2002’s Spelling Mississippi follows three women through parallel love stories. Propelling the book is the question of how these stories converge. They do, and it’s a twist.”—Globe and Mail
Marnie Woodrow is the acclaimed author of two short fiction collections, Why We Close Our Eyes When We Kiss, and In The Spice House, and a novel, Spelling Mississippi, a love story set in pre-Katrina New Orleans. Spelling Mississippi was short-listed for the amazon.ca First Novel Prize.
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Shortlisted for the 2016 ReLit Award!
Twenty years after a horrific captivity, Magda’s perfect life begins to crumble. Helpless to the resurgence of memory, she collapses inward. Through a haze of desire frighteningly evocative of the attack, she desperately attempts to fit together the bits and pieces of self, which existed before and after. The Theory of Light at Midnight is the story of the disintegration of personality, and one woman’s attempt to reconstruct integrity with the truth of brutality intact.
“In this series of ‘broken cantos,’ language buckles under the weight of a body’s knowing, giving voice to a novel which sings its gorgeous dissonance. Like a rare piece of music, this writing moved me to tears. It is an astonishing work. Magda’s experience of childhood violence reverberates throughout her life and words—and into the bodies of readers who hold this book in their hands. The Theory of Light at Midnight not only describes trauma, it renders it actual through Ukrainetz’ extraordinary prose.—Marianne Apostolides, author of Sophrosyne
“Surreal. Dreamlike. Childhood trauma and adult aftershock transformed into art.” —Mary Lou Dickinson, author of Would I Lie to You? and Ile D’Or
“A poet as well as a prose writer, Ukrainetz has a handle on language”—Quill & Quire
“A deftly crafted and compelling read from beginning to end… destined to become a literary classic.”—Midwest Book Review
“The Theory of Light at Midnight brings Ukrainetz back into the world of Canadian fiction. The novel is a temporally and structurally fragmented look at the inner life of a woman… Ukrainetz deftly steps outside of time and linear structure… conveying a strong sense of Magda’s central struggle.”— David Burgess McGregor, Winnipeg Review
“Elizabeth Ukrainetz’s writing shows brief glimpses of life on the other side of a window painted with vivid colours and designs. Language in her work is at the forefront.”—Room
“Language, for Elizabeth Ukrainetz, is a goal in itself. In The Theory of Light at Midnight, it is the poetic prose that draws the reader’s attention.”—Herizons
Elizabeth Ukrainetz writes prose and poetry. Her work has appeared in several anthologies and journals over the years, including The Malahat Review, Fiddlehead, and Grain. She’s published two books with Exile Editions, Baby, I Love You: Stories and Minor Assumptions. Visit her website at eeukra.net
Price: $17.95—special sale price!
Eulogy is a hit: now in its second print run!
The controlled and calm life of William Oaks is shattered when his parents die suddenly in a car accident. A reclusive paper conservator at a renowned Toronto museum, William must face the obsessions and denials that have formed him: delusional family history, religious fundamentalism, and get-rich-quick schemes. Memory and facts collide, threatening to derail his life and career as William feverishly prepares for an important exhibition on the Egyptian Book of the Dead.
“Eulogy is a powerful and riveting exploration of the family: the tensions between father and son, mother and son, and mother and father through the sharp-eyed, sensitive voice of William Oaks. Masterfully mesmerizing.”—Catherine Graham, author of Her Red Hair Rises with the Wings of Insects
“In his debut novel, Ken Murray tells the kind of secrets that simultaneously bind and tear a family apart. With a quick turn of a head or a phrase, the normal becomes freakish, and cruelty mundane. This is a story about diet drinks and religion, death and video games. Eulogy is an obituary to modern innocence.” —Shaughnessy Bishop-Stall, author of Down to This and Ghosted
“Too often, first-time novelists show up with baby fat or affectation or slavish devotion to some novelistic ideology. But Murray begins as a mature writer: muscular, plain spoken, himself alone. The story he tells here makes for compulsive reading.”—Benjamin Taylor, author of Naples Declared and The Book of Getting Even
“Absorbing novel . . . A cautious optimist, Murray grants this wounded soul a chance for happiness while acknowledging the work required to clasp it fully.” —Brett Josef Grubisic, The Georgia Straight
“Ken Murray’s powerful, poignant debut… According to convention, a book about grief has no right to be a page-turner, but this one is.” —Jade Colbert, Globe and Mail
“Ken Murray’s solemn and entrancing debut . . . Eulogy is a serious, graceful novel that interrogates the roots of a particular strain of family unhappiness.” —Ryan D. Matthews, Brooklyn Rail
“Well written and very thought provoking . . . The ending truly caught me by surprise and I do love that in a book.” —Patty Woodland, brokenteepee.com
“I enjoyed Eulogy immensely. It’s smart, occasionally funny, and very human. There are so many reasons to read this book: pick one and take the plunge.” —Andrew Fookes, Literary Fiction Review
Ken Murray lives in Prince Edward County, Ontario. He teaches creative writing at Haliburton School of the Arts and at the School of Continuing Studies at the University of Toronto. He is a volunteer broadcaster in community radio and dabbles in several sports. Eulogy is his first novel. For more information visit kenmurray.ca.
PRICE: $15.95—special sale price!
Adoni is a teenaged girl who lives in a downtown apartment with her mother, an emotionally and physically abusive woman who drinks too much. One evening, Adoni finds herself drawn to the enchanting voice of a man singing in the alley beneath her bedroom window. The man, Ritter, brings Adoni to the Welcome, a northern colony of the In-Between world, where young people who have been rescued from harm are kept safe by their sworn immortal protectors, the pipers. But when the Welcome is attacked by changelings—led by the vicious and charismatic Sylvester—and a centuries-old grudge spills over the edge and threatens to destroy the colony and everyone who lives there, Adoni must find the strength and courage within to stop the oncoming war. This stirring LGBTQ-positive coming-of-age fantasy novel accurately portrays issues such as domestic violence and emotional abuse, as well as cultural and sexual identity.
“In The Voices In Between, Challenger has created a brilliant urban fantasy haunted by a melody line and dark secrets that cut beneath reality. Her words sing on the page, weaving a world that draws you in with its claws and refuses to let go. Captivating, intriguing, and most of all musical, Challenger sets the stage for a series whose insistent voice will continue whispering into your ear long after you’ve turned the final page.” —S.M. Beiko, author, The Lake and the Library
“Brave, wrenching loving, wise—and absolutely breathtaking. I have not read a debut novel more clear-eyed and heartfelt than The Voices in Between.”—Leah Bobet, author of Above
“The descriptive passages are lyrical and make powerful use of metaphor”—Resources Links Magazine
“The Voices in Between is an ambitious and sophisticated fantasy, written with evocative, brooding beauty. Challenger makes words on a page caress the ear like music or jar against the soul with a chilling and suspenseful grip.” —Ellen Wu, Canadian Review of Materials
“The Voices in Between snatched my attention straight away with its unusual, atypical heroine… I found the book beautifully written and smart. There is something poetic and enchanting in the In-Between with its snowy landscape and its Christmas air… I sincerely enjoyed The Voices In Between and I highly recommend it.”—Angelique, Maple Books
The book is about so many things….making choices, finding your identity, fitting in, anger, manipulation, dealing with abuse (bullying). It is a great journey that brings forward many social issues that our young generation faces on a daily basis. I’m eagerly awaiting book two!!—lostintherain.com
“shows remarkable wisdom, with fluid prose and masterful plotting that hit all the right notes at just the right times. A multi-tiered accomplishment in YA fiction, the heroine and heroes are anything but typical, with remarkable diversity representative of the city in which it’s based.”—amazon.com customer review
Charlene Challenger is a writer, a graduate of the Ryerson Theatre School, and the first recipient of the Gladys Shibley Mitchell Scholarship Award. She lives in Toronto with her husband and son. Tightrope Books published the sequel to the The Voices in Between, The Myth in Distance, in the fall of 2016.
PRICE: $10 special sale price
Kelly Ward’s debut collection of stories teems with characters just on the fringe of the mainstream, and each story examines the mundane and abject sides of normalcy. A middle-aged woman spends her life in the slot machine pit of a rural casino where she navigates her misplaced affections for two men: one a lifelong gambler and couch-surfing cad, the other a kid in his early 20s who makes her forget her own age and place in the world. Twenty-something newlyweds Asa and Maria attempt to conceive for the first six months of their marriage. When her apparent dream of becoming a mother doesn’t pan out quickly, Maria distances herself from Asa. A septuagenarian utilizes younger shoppers as pawns to make her weekly grocery-store jaunt that much easier to navigate. Each of Keep it Beautiful‘s characters find humor and beauty in unlikely places, while often playing victim—or at times accomplice—to their circumstances.
“Ward’s marginal characters—geriatric shoplifters, lovelorn gamblers, Zellers employees, OCD municipal workers—are curious curiosities. Ward lifts the everyday and everyman and transforms absurd disappointments and fragmented joys of the quotidian to reveal a fresh, intimate compassionate perspective, as all gifted writers do.”—Ibi Kaslik, author of Skinny and The Angel Riots
“Ward favour[s] shorter stories that provide just enough information to comprehend their characters’ motivations and morality, while simultaneously refusing to explain things in a blandly expository manner.”—The National Post
“Keep It Beautiful is full of characters both odd and endearing and makes for fantastic summer reading for short story lovers.”—Open Book Toronto
“The author’s deft facility with character and her willingness to trust her readers by infusing her stories with just the right degree of contingency mark her as an author to watch.”—Steve W. Beattie, 49th Shelf
“Observant and compassionate to the end”—goodreads.com
Kelly Ward is a freelance writer and editor whose fiction, poetry, and journalism have appeared in various publications across Canada, including Existere, Matrix Magazine, SubTerrain, Taddle Creek, Word Magazine, and various other literary journals. Her story, “A Girl And A Dog On A Friday Night,” was longlisted for the 2017 Journey Prize. She lives in Toronto.
The more than 70 stories in I Am Currently Working on a Novel are as diverse as a telephone conversation or your average ocean. There are stories set in Hollywood, London, and the bottom of the sea. There are also pieces about ghosts, robots, love, Pointillism, death, and immortality. Though seldom longer than a few pages, there is more mystery, sadness and sheer mania in Rolli’s slimmed-down fictions than a whole shelf-full of standard novels.
“As dazzling as they are brilliant, these stories are bursting with life. They sing. And they’re very funny too.”—Nik Perring, author of Freaks
“Because this is a magic book, as you absorb its people you begin to realize that the real people around you are and have always been impossible.”—Brian Conn, editor of Birkensnake
“Rolli’s eccentric, whimsical stories exhibit a style and a brand of comedy all his own. There is much to love about this collection for a general audience, but these stories will be most rewarding for Rolli’s fellow writers and artists.” — pankmagazine.com
“The seventy-five stories in mononymous author Rolli’s new flash-fiction collection, I Am Currently Working on a Novel, waver between whimsical and bleak. The best ones are both.”—heavyfeatherreview.com
“Rolli’s imagination is admirable, and his ability to make so much happen in so few words is deeply impressive. Each one of the stories in I Am Currently Working On A Novel is finely-crafted, a miniature triumph.” —neonmagazine.co.uk
Saskatchewan resident Rolli is a writer, cartoonist, and the author of God’s Autobio, Plum Stuff, Mavor’s Bones and Dr. Franklin’s Staticy Cat. His cartoons appear regularly in Reader’s Digest. He lives in Regina, SK.
PRICE: $16.95 – special sale price!
In his darkest hour, the night in which his son, Amorak, is stranded in the middle of an Arctic snowstorm, Jimmy Whitefox, a First Nation elder from the Northwest Territories, is forced to face the fact that his only child is a violent husband and father who has destroyed the lives of those who live with him. While his son fights the elements and his own sinister demons under the most unforgiving of conditions, Jimmy re-creates his own past for his sleeping granddaughter Jiewa, in an attempt to make her understand the origin of her family’s pain and the suffering of her people. There, in the quiet darkness that precedes dawn, stories arise, poignant and sweet, sometimes brutal and sometimes prodigious. The vibrant, passionate spirit of the Tli-Cho Nation and their beautiful, magical, and sometimes lethal environment are shared in this compelling work of fiction.
“Lloret has captured Whitefox’s life down to such intimate details as the different smells of bodies, while showing how such differences can separate or unite a man and his own people. Her language is memorable and evocative, conjuring the harsh beauty of a place where you can watch your breath ‘freeze in the air and drop over your shoulders like a twinkling rain of silver sparks.’ If ever there were a Canadian book destined to become a film, this would be it.”—Jeffrey Round, author of Lake on the Mountain
“Wolf in a Beaver Coat engages readers into the perilous life of the North, and the people that have resided there for centuries.”—Fairview Post
Canadian–Spanish author Rosario Lloret was born in Madrid, Spain. She moved to Canada in 2003 and lived in the Northwest Territories for six years. She currently resides in Hudson’s Hope, BC, with her husband and three daughters. Wolf in a Beaver Coat is her first novel.
Shortlisted for the 2012 ReLit Award for best novel.
In this crackling debut, Ashley Little creates a new anti-hero — one whose audacity is matched by his vulnerability. PRICK is narrate by twenty-one year old Anthony “Ant” Young: an artist, an asshole, and an anti-hero. After fleeing a violent home life in Calgary, Ant moves to Victoria, BC, where he earns his tattooing apprenticeship under Hank the Tank, a founding member of the powerful Lucifer’s Choice motorcycle gang. Under Hank’s guidance, Ant learns the craft and business of tattoo, but he is also exposed to a vicious and frightening criminal underworld. Written in intense, rapid-fire bursts, PRICK explores themes of addiction, desire, and remorse. As Ant’s life stumbles out of control, he struggles to hold on to the one thing he really cares about. Ashley Little follows in the footsteps of Bret Easton Ellis and Heather O’Neill in this unforgettable, disturbing and darkly funny tale.
Ashley Little received a BFA in Creative Writing from the University of Victoria. She won the 2008 Okanagan Short Story Contest. Her work has appeared in Broken Pencil, The Danforth Review, Room and the anthology Writing Without Direction: Ten and a Half Stories by Canadian Authors Under Thirty (Clark-Nova, 2010). http://ashleylittle.com
“Fearless, the straight stuff! An arresting look at the world of tattoo; graphic as a freshly embroidered skull on virgin skin. Via the morally ambiguous point of view of an eager young apprentice, PRICK is an entree to a world not often seen and even less understoof. With wistful shades of Willie Vlautin and al the grit of Charles Bukowski, Ashley Little lushly demonstrates that hers in an important new voice in unflinchingly real storytelling.” —Dennis E. Bolen, author of Kaspoit!
“Prick is a screeching hell ride down damnation alley…Like a car wreck to the morbidly inquisitive, or a brilliant dragon tattoo on alabaster flesh, Prick is a beautifully disturbing tale revealing the morally mangled soul of a young man.”—The Toronto Review of Books
” I couldn’t put it down”—Monniblog
“Quite promising”—Quill and Quire
Found unconscious on a remote road in the coastal rain forest, Joseph Windebank is badly injured, water-soaked, and near death. After being nursed back to health in a rural community of fishers and loggers, Joey is a changed man. His memory is gone, his wife has disappeared, and, in piecing together the mystery, Joey comes to imagine his world as a shadowy and frightening place where vampires haunt the deep woods and the dead trade their lives on the land for an eerie afterlife in the dark waters of the coastal inlets. Teased, tolerated, and nicknamed “Zero,” he packs prawns at the local fish plant, making a new life for himself. But he hides a growing fear that a huge, dark, and hungry secret is rising from the depths of his past—a secret that he is better off not knowing.
“Commander Zero is a brilliantly written novel that takes place in the tiny community of Pender Harbour. This is not your quaint and cozy local yokel tale. It is dark and quirky, as lyrical and hard as the landscape itself … The elements of nature are powerful, fully-fledged characters in this novel, as they are in marginal coastal life. Author David Lee understands this and has created a profound and beautiful work because of it…. The voice that Lee developed to help him understand hard-scrabble Pender Harbour life has helped him to create a novel that is part poem, part tragedy, an honest and moving mystery.”—Carole Rubin, Coast Reporter
“David Neil Lee has written a probing story in Commander Zero … knife-edge writing, excellent pacing … Lee is a strong storyteller with powerful moments of insight and resolution.”—Don Graves, Hamilton Spectator
“I love books strongly rooted in place, where the writer is so generous with specific detail that you can visualize the land, the vistas, the houses, the weather. If you’re looking for a lively and intriguing read for the end of summer, this is your book … Commander Zero is more than a roman-à-clef.” —Theresa Kishkan, The Harbour Spiel
About the Author
Before David Neil Lee became known as a writer, including two books on jazz, he was a founding member of Toronto’s improvised music community, playing double bass and cello with international jazz artists, dancers, actors and poets. He is also the author of the best-selling Chainsaws: A History.
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A modern-day Greek tragedy, I Thought I Would Be Happy revolves around Marco Morelli, an aspiring filmmaker with a passion for heights. Set in New York, Toronto, and on top of Mount Olympus, this sexy, vivid novel weaves mythology with current events. It will especially interest academics, members of the gay community, and film and art lovers.
“To accept happiness, will you accept its terror? I Thought I Would Be Happy provides absorbing terrain in which to ponder the question. Surreal and fragmented memories slowly reveal the courage it takes to accept change in others — to realize you have shared the intimacy of strange travel together. In a work haunted by both cruelty and kindness, Jim Nason shows how our undoing can also be our extreme good luck.”—Daniel Allen Cox, author of Krakow Melt
Jim Nason‘s award-winning poems, essays, and stories have been published in literary journals and anthologies throughout the United States and Canada, including The Best Canadian Poetry in English. He is also the author of a novel, The Housekeeping Journals, and a short-story collection, The Girl on the Escalator. He lives in Toronto.
Longlisted for the Edge Hill Prize
Written in original, humorous, and innovative ways, these 11 richly, varied stories expose the risks in finding shelter in unaccommodating places. Exploring the precarious lives of an accident-prone Chinese construction worker with a dark secret, a fatally ill Canadian artist who remains in Beijing after the 2008 Olympics, a grieving barber who makes a gruesome discovery about his Czech lover, and a couple who make a shocking, last-minute decision about their adoptive child, these unforgettable narratives—both dark and emotional—travel from China to Canada and Europe to convey vivid descriptions and a nostalgic appeal.
“When you’re in the mood for a challenge–when you need to stretch your thinking muscles a bit–I highly recommend Fatty Goes to China. It’s not a perfect book, and it may perplex you often, but it’s haunting and damned interesting. I won’t forget this book.”—insatiablebooksluts.com
“Royston Tester is a revelation”—Susie Bright
Royston Tester is an associate editor for online Cha: An Asian Literary Journal. He is the author of the story collections You Turn Your Back and Summat Else. His short fiction has appeared in North American, Asian, and European publications.
Sex is casual, but conversation is a serious matter in the outrageous adventures of this contemporary cougar.In Myna Wallin’s second book, a reluctant cougar tells all. She feasts on young men of all kinds, in a world where sex isn’t dirty but love is coated in grime. In this raucous novel, she runs the gauntlet of men, including a Harley-riding bikini salesman, a semiotics professor, a foot fetishist, a jaded brand consultant, a homeless man, and a bisexual mime. Written with Wallin’s signature wit, this semiotics of dating is given a postmodern twist.
“Wallin’s merciless wit subverts the Chick Lit genre, cleverly critiquing its man-chasing imperatives and dating cliches.”—Canadian Notes & Queries
“… an act of admirable bravery”—The Globe and Mail
“With humour and insight, Wallin’s narrator deliberates on the confusing mess that love can be while musing on her current and shaky love affair . . . here it is a call to action, a call for the liberation of the female body.”—Broken Pencil
Myna Wallin is a Toronto-based author and editor. She has her Masters degree in English Literature from the University of Toronto. Her first full-length poetry collection, A Thousand Profane Pieces, was published in 2006. Myna’s poetry and prose have been published in numerous literary journals and anthologies, including The Algonquin Square Table Anthology, Contemporary Verse 2, Existere, eye weekly, Kiss Machine, The Literary Review of Canada, Matrix, Misunderstandings Magazine, Nod, Surface and Symbol, and Taddle Creek.
Longlisted for the 2012 ReLit Award!
From critically acclaimed poet and novelist Jim Nason comes a collection of vivid and affecting stories about the brief moments that change lives. The characters in the book’s eleven stories live in a world upside down. From the young professional who leaves her high-powered job to explore street life as a graffiti artist, to the gay man who falls in love with a woman, to the spin class fanatic who learns that there’s a fine line between fitness and addiction, these excessive and radical characters create pandemonium wherever they go. Inspired by everyday people riding the TTC, Jim Nason has crafted a collection of gender- and expectation-bending stories that reveal the extraordinary and often heartbreaking truths behind ordinary life. Poignant and uplifting, The Girl on the Escalator is a fresh look at the world right outside our door.
Praise for The Girl on the Escalator:
“With an unflinching eye—and evoking ‘lapsed’ territories of Raymond Carver and Norman Levine—Jim Nason guides us artfully, and with cutting-edge wit, through a marginalized world whose quiet, devastating terror is that it may be our own . . . Tough, acutely observed, and tender, the stories in this collection bear the hallmark of a prodigious downtown seer whose unforgettable voice is distinctly his own. A gem of a work.—Royston Tester, author of Summat Else
“Nason’s well-drawn characters push themselves to the limit, whatever the limit, and keep going. One excellent story after another, original and very polished. His descriptions and dialogue are right on target—Nason is a terrifically good writer.”—Elisavietta Ritchie, author of In Haste I Write You This Note: Stories and Half-Stories
Praise for The Housekeeping Journals:
“Nason offers readers a glimpse into characters who are bitter and wise, funny and dignified . . . gorgeously and with grace, glimpses into the beautifully fought lives and deaths of his characters.”—Mary Horodyski, Prairie Fire
Jim Nason’s award-winning poems and stories have appeared in literary journals and anthologies across the United States and Canada, including The Best Canadian Poetry in English 2008 & 2010. He has published three books of poetry: If Lips Were as Red (Palmerston Press), The Fist of Remembering (Wolsak and Wynn), Narcissus Unfolding (Frontenac House). His debut novel, The Housekeeping Journals, was released to critical acclaim by Turnstone Press in 2007. He lives in Toronto.
Saturday, April 16, 2011
Tightrope Books Office (602 Markham Street, Toronto)
“I want to know them well, intimately. I have to be able to describe them.”
~The Diary of Anais Nin, Volume One
Do you feel self-conscious when you are writing sex scenes in novels? Does your love poetry lack lust(re)? The goal of this course is to find a vocabulary for the erotic self; writers will explore ways of describing their characters’ lives fully and unselfconsciously, to enhance the story or poem at hand. Exploring your sensual self can be exciting, freeing. How much is too much sex; how much is not enough? By incorporating just the right amount of eroticism into your writing you will add a level of depth and authenticity to your writing. Continue reading
Memory Lapse at the Waterfront
I am sitting under the tree writing to you. How are you? Well I hope. Over here things are usual. The paper shortage is getting worse and worse, which is why I am writing to you on Saran Wrap. Finding an envelope should be real interesting but I guess it doesn’t really matter, as you will never get this letter any way. I don’t even know whether you are still alive. I don’t know whether California is still there, or whether it finally dropped off into the sea like everyone always said it would. Sometimes I feel like going down to the waterfront, finding a boat and rowing to California, if that’s what it takes. Except of course there aren’t any boats. I can’t even remember the last time I saw a boat.
I like to think of you when I’m sitting here under this tree. We sure had some wild times together, didn’t we kiddo?
Last week the rodents tried to cut the tree down. Of course we didn’t let them. We threw garbage and they left; it never fails. They said they wanted to make it into paper. I don’t know what they’d do with paper anyway, except maybe wipe their butts. Bunch of illiterates. It’s funny about the memory. I can’t remember how long it’s been this way. Sometimes I forget altogether that there ever was a Before.
Encoding refers to the initial perception and registration of information. Storage is the retention of encoded information over time. Retrieval refers to the processes involved in using stored information.
My mother (always tactless and almost always drunk) says in a long distance call from Toronto to Montreal, “Write it down, honey.”
A pack a day smoker, a functional alcoholic, a broken woman, her insides riddled with disease, her left breast and her uterus removed, always telling me to write it down, as if a script has some grand importance and validity, capable of overshadowing reality.
My reality. Her reality.
“Write it down, honey.”
And I remember they (whoever they are) always said, “Let your reader know where you are coming from and where you are going. Let them know where the end is. Be succinct. Clarify.”
They told me there had to be a beginning, a middle and an end to things, even if you are (as I am) speaking from far beyond and far before the end. When you are naïve and apt to believe, you truly depend on the notion that there is a clear beginning, middle and end.
That there is a truth and a progression among all these recollections.
Perhaps I am not so apt to believe in that kind of truth. I believe that things are much better when broken into pieces, because the whole is deceptive at best.
My past is a carefully linked chain of lies and my present is nothing more than the sparkle of swept dust.
Tell Your Sister
His dark hair still wet from the shower, Aaron Fenn ran through the buoyant have of a deep blue autumn morning. In a town of inclines and subtly divisions, Millward Secondary stood in the north end amidst curving streets of split level-homes. The bell for first period sounded as Aaron turned the last corner before the school, books and binders swinging at his side. He hasn’t even had time to come up with a fresh excuse for why he was late again.
Outside the main entrance students took last drags in their cigarettes. The school served both the town and all the Castlereagh country, and the lobby into which he stepped smelled in equal parts of Polo and pig shit. Aaron nodded to a girlfriend of his sister, then slipped into the boisterous stream of kids flowing along the main hallway.
The door to his first class, English with Miss Hirst, was already closed, Once inside, Aaron looked for Susan Higham’s hazel eyes and help them with his own. Too busy to call from the Bowladrome the night before, he now counted himself lucky to receive a quick smile from her.
A boy was playing hide-and-seek in the backyard with his sister and her friend. The boy, in an attempt to be impossible to find, went round to the driveway and hod under his father’s spirt utility vehicle. After a few minutes the boy ran back to the backyard, running right into his sister. She fell and bit her lower lip. Bleeding and crying she went inside.
A few minutes later, their mom came out and asked him to be more careful and the game was over. The two girls played inside because it was getting too hot, while the boy wandered around the backyard looking for interesting insects. Eventually he made his way back to the front of the house and opened the door to the truck. He climbed in behind the wheel and closed the door. He passed his hands over the steering wheel in dramatic fashion. He pressed a few buttons on the side arm console and was rewarded with a thunk. The boy took his hand off the console and stared at it, unable to tell what button he had pressed or what he had done.