Saturday, May 29, 2010

Western Magazine Award for Fiction

A pleasant surprise in the old inbox today. In addition to previously nominating my story, "Eat Fist!" for the Journey Prize, the kind folks at Event have also nominated me for a Western Magazine Award in the Fiction category. Previous finalists (and winners) include Annabel Lyon, Bill Gaston, Lee Henderson, Guy Vanderhaeghe, Elizabeth Hay, Craig Davidson, and Bronwen Wallace. All of which is super and unexpected. If I'm named a finalist I'll find out in July.

Oh, my little story that could. Keep on trucking.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Kinkiest Characters in Literature


5. Satan (Paradise Lost, Milton): Nobody can out-charm Milton’s Lord of Darkness. Much-lauded for his ability to transform himself into a giant slithering phallus.

4. Henry Miller (Tropic of Cancer, Henry Miller): A brothel-hopping whirling dervish of libertine jouissance and syphilis, Henry’s never met a sexual encounter (or an STI) he didn’t like.

3. O (The Story of O, Pauline Reage): Submissive and sexy, playful O enjoys slow, painful degradation at the hands of faceless men who strip her of any sense of selfhood.

2. Patrick Batemen (American Psycho, Bret Easton Ellis): When he’s not doing pushups to keep his bodyfat under four percent or scoping out the latest fashions, Patrick can be found slaughtering hookers with chainsaws and trying to stuff cats into bank machines.

1. Simone (Story of the Eye, Georges Bataille): From bloodletting to golden showers, necrophilia to eye socket sex, Simone’s interests are sure to please even the most demanding lover. Especially fond of the rodeo – where else can you find riper bull testicles for vaginal insertion?


6. Madame de St. Ainge (Philosophy of the Bedroom, Marquis de Sade)

7. Lolita (Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov)

8. Bear (Bear, by Marian Engel)
"If I had a tumor, I'd name it Marla"

"If I had a tumor, I'd name it Marla"

9. Marla Singer (Fight Club, Chuck Palahniuk)

10. Alex (A Clockwork Orange, Anthony Burgess)

11. Vaughan (Crash, JG Ballard)

12. Lord Byron

13. Sarah (Sarah, JT LeRoy)

14. Fevvers (Nights at the Circus, Angela Carter)

15. Humbert Humbert (Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov)

16. Anaïs Nin (Diaries of Anaïs Nin)

17. Q_ (Zombie, Joyce Carol Oates)

18. The Dog Woman (Sexing the Cherry, Jeanette Winterson)

19.Belle de Jour (Belle de Jour, Joseph Kessel)

20. Nan Astley (Tipping the Velvet, Sarah Waters)


Ipy and Ella (Geek Love, Katherine Dunn)

Orlando (Orlando, Virgina Woolf)

The Wife of Bath (The Canterbury Tales, Chaucer)

Molly Bloom (Ulysses, James Joyce)

The Dark Lady (Sonnets, Shakespeare)

Randle McMurphy (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Ken Kesey)

Philip Marlowe (The Big Sleep, Raymond Chandler)

Portnoy (Portnoy’s Complaint, Philip Roth)

Heathcliff (Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë)

[Originally appeared in Blackheart Magazine ]

Monday, May 17, 2010

Mordecai Gives Back

Mordecai Richler: Improving literacy, one cat at a time.

The Grono

The other day I was sitting on my partner's bed with her computer on my lap. The bed is pressed up against the corner, underneath a nifty little window ledge about six feet off the ground. Atop the window ledge are an assortment of things: a wooden artist doll with a name I don't remember anymore; a black and white photograph my partner took; and this:

According to the IKEA website, the Grono is made of mouth-blown glass and as such each Grono is unique. The Grono provides soft mood lighting. It also tries to kill me.

Somehow the Grono's power cord got caught on my arm, so when I sat up off the bed I pulled the Grono off the ledge and onto my head. Then the Grono shattered.

There's no real reason for me to be sharing this story. Maybe to warn you about Gronos. But then I had to go buy a new Grono and I liked it so much I bought one for myself, so maybe that's not the case either.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Excerpt: MSN conversation.

shmu: i just want to get into my pjs and be comfortable and cozy. tantrumlegs.
me: tantrumlegs!
shmu: 'tarantrum-legs'!!!!!!
me: thats so amazing, because i can picture you doing this motion you do, like youre swimming or massaging the asses of a thousand communist women

30 Second Review: An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination

I like Elizabeth McCracken. I like her novel, Giant's House, and I really like her collection, Here's Your Hat What's Your Hurry?. Not surprisingly, I also like her new Oprah-endorsed - and wonderfully titled - memoir, An Exact Replica of a Figment of my Imagination. Or maybe surprisingly. The memoir is all about McCracken's first ill-fated pregnancy, and about its more successful sequel. There isn't much of a story here, in any traditional sense. McCracken and her husband temporarily christen their baby-in-waiting Pudding. Late in the pregnancy Pudding dies, so late that McCracken still needs to give birth. A year later she's pregnant again. It's not the kind of thing I'm usually interested in. Somehow, though, I fell in love - as I always do - with McCracken's wisdom. Did I say wisdom? I did. Know that I furrow my brows whenever someone describes an author or a piece of writing as 'wise.' But I can say without any kind of doubt that this book is wise. And funny. And sad. It seems to breathe life. I like that kind of thing. Here's a passage that eviscerated my cockles:

I put my hand on top of my stomach and felt what I thought of as Pudding's rolling-over-in-bed move. 'God, I feel better," I said. I exhaled. "All right. Well done, Pudding."

Later I found out that this was a Braxton Hicks contraction, my uterus puttering around, maybe getting ready for labor, maybe not. I found out, you see, because I continued to have them even after he was irrefutably dead.


More McCracken:

Gaea Girls: Caught w/ String does the movies!

It seems to me that I should start making posts about something other than what I'm up to writing-wise, so here goes. Yesterday I went with Ms. Brooke, whose postcard story "Dogs Fall in Love at First Sight, You Know", is a finalist for the Geist postcard fiction contest, to my first Hot Docs movie ever (which makes me a terrible terrible Torontonian for not taking advantage of the city's abundance of cultural events). Brooke rightly intuited my interest in all things off-beat and athletic and took me out to see Gaea Girls, a documentary about female Japanese pro-wrestlers.

It was fantastic - I shit you not. The training these women go through blows my mind. It was interesting to see how different pro-wrestling is in Japan than in America. It seems to be less scripted there, more overtly violent. The fans are just as rabid, though, and the events just as spectacular (as the entrance music for the Gaea wrestlers puts it, 'WE ARE FREAK-OUT!'). The director did a little G&A afterwards and the things she said changed how I viewed the film - little details that I missed about the dynamics between wrestlers, and what happened after.

Here's a clip:

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

New Review

Speaking of Broken Pencil, my review of Rebekkah Adams' debut novel, Front Porch Mannequins, is out in the current issue. Indubitably.

I also encourage you to pick up a copy of Darwin's Bastards, a collection of apocalyptic mostly-Canadian fiction. You should especially read Neil Smith's excerpt from his novel-in-progress and Anosh Irani's bizarre fetus story. George the Cat says you should, so you should.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Review: Playing Basra

Book review:

Playing Basra

With its sparse, brutal prose and trashy cast of latchkey kids, Playing Basra, Ed­ward Brown's debut collection of short stories, almost lives up to its billing as the booze-soaked love child of Hemingway and The Trailer Park Boys. And like the lovable losers who call Sunnyvale Trailer Park home, Brown's characters can break your heart. In "Radio Dispatched," Mike, the collection's adolescent narrator, re­lates his father's unexpected death and the family's subsequent spiral into destitu­tion, while the Journey Prize-nominated "Beer Bottles and Bowling Balls" grimly covers everything from molestation to abandoned babies.

To its credit, the collection isn't uniformly bleak. In "Quiet as India," Mike completes his sexual awakening by ten­derly locking lips with his crush in the womb-like depths of the neighbourhood swimming pool. When they finally sur­face, Mike boldly declares, in parlance fa­miliar to young lovers everywhere, "We'd never come apart." It's a touchingly hu­mane, and welcome, reprieve; unfortu­nately, it's the only chance Brown gives us to catch our breath.

Indeed, there are times when the gritty, beer-drenched territory Brown charts is both too much and too familiar. In "Chip Dip," for example, Donny finds the no­tion of Mike's brother Ray marrying a nursing student absurd: "girls like her don't marry people like us. Now shut your mouth, I'm tryin' to eat." The sen­timent recalls S.E. Hinton's classic novel The Outsiders, where a band of greasers wage war with the sons and daughters of the town's privileged elite. While Hinton urges disaffected youth to "stay gold" in the face of the traumas of adolescence, Brown offers precious little in the way of hope. For better or worse, in the world according to Playing Basra, those who are gold don't stay that way for long. (An­drew MacDonald)

by Edward Brown $21.95, 194 pgs. Exile Editions 134 Eastbourne Ave Toronto, ON, M5P 2G6

Review published in Broken Pencil 46.