Monday, October 16, 2017

Upcoming events

So I've a couple of late-breaking Toronto appearances happening over the next couple of weeks to let you know about. Check them out:

  • October 26 at 7 pm: I'll be reading, along with Koom Kankesan (curator), Nat Than, and Michelle Alfano, as part of the Tartan Turban Secret Readings #5, happening at Barrett and Welsh, 577 Kingston Road, suite #301. Check out the Facebook invitation for more details. 
  • November 1 at 6 pm: I'll be reading as a special guest, along with Emily Saso and my wife Rebecca Rosenblum, at the launch of Daniel Griffin's new novel, Two Roads Home, at Ben McNally Books, 366 Bay St. See this Eventsi page for details.
If you're able to make it out to either (or both!) of these events, it would be great to see you.


Monday, October 2, 2017

A tough but fair review of The Slip ...

... appeared in The Winnipeg Review last week, which I found during a fit of self-Googling during my lunch hour today. As outlined in the piece, reviewer Keith Cadieux struggled with the fact that protagonist Philip Sharpe spends the vast majority of the novel in ignorance over the true nature of his "slip" on live TV - a perfectly valid opinion to hold about a premise that, by its own admission, stretches the boundaries of plausibility. (Cadieux also took exception to the narrative's admission to this implausibility.) He found the opening scene, i.e. the initial argument between Philip and his wife Grace, "fairly generic," and he also found the novel's ending to be "a series of neat resolutions."

But he also had lots of nice things to say, too. He loved the flashback to Philip's childhood growing up in a downmarket pub in Charlottetown; he appreciated the flashback to Philip and Grace's honeymoon, where he rejects her suggestion that they have a foursome with another couple they meet; and he got a hoot out of scene where Philip loses yet another Remembrance Day poppy while getting chewed out by the dean about his "slip."

Anyway, these sort of mixed reviews just come with the territory of putting a book out into the public sphere, and as always I'm grateful that work of mine gets any attention at all. Props to Cadieux for taking the time and the space to reviewing The Slip, and to The Winnipeg Review for running it.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Publication: J.J. Steinfeld - Essays on His Works

I'm very happy to announce that I have an essay included in a recently published anthology looking at the life and works of PEI writer, and my good friend, J.J. Steinfeld. I have very limited experience writing more academic-style pieces, but I jumped at the opportunity to be a part of this book when scholar Sandra Singer from the University of Guelph contacted me two and a half years ago. My essay, "Situational Exposition: Elisions and Inclusions in J.J. Steinfeld's Word Burials" looks at J.J.'s 2009 novel through the lens of his being the child of Holocaust survivors, of his ongoing obsession with Franz Kafka and Samuel Beckett, and of the tradition of captivity narratives that J.J. and other writers have written.

The anthology includes other scholarship from such luminaries as George Elliot Clarke, Shane Neilson, Richard Lemm, and Singer herself. If you know J.J.'s work, this book is definitely worth picking up. And if you don't know his work, this would be a good time to start reading him.


Thursday, August 10, 2017

Acceptance: Grain magazine

So just before I took an extended long weekend and jaunted off to Scotland for a wedding, I received an acceptance letter from the venerable literary journal Grain out of Saskatchewan for a new poem of mine called "A Consortium of 26 Lien Lenders." No, that's not a joke - it actually is the title of the piece. (And many thanks to RR for providing the inspiration for it.) Anyhoo. The poem - the sixth I've published this year from the new manuscript - is slated to run in the magazine's fall issue, so look for it then.


Wednesday, August 9, 2017

My review of The Nightingale Won’t Let You Sleep by Steven Heighton

I'm back in the digital pages of The Winnipeg Review with this evaluation of Steven Heighton's new novel, The Nightingale Won't Let You Sleep. I'm always impressed when a writer as accomplished in poetry as Heighton can also write well-crafted and gripping prose, and that is certainly the case here. This story, set on the divided island of Cyprus, weaves a complex tale about love, loyalty and authoritarianism in an abandoned resort town called Varosha. Definitely worth checking out. Read the review.


Tuesday, July 18, 2017

My Quill and Quire review of All That is Solid Melts into Air, by Carole Giangrande ...

... is now online at the Q&Q website. This book takes on the formidable task of recreating the events of 9/11 in fiction, and as I say in the review, Giangrande does a splendid job. As I also point out, you may require an oversized crane to suspend your disbelief that so many of protagonist Valerie's loved ones could be tangled up in the events of that tragic, historic day, but if you can look past such an acute implausibility, you're in for a sharp and well-written read.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Out and about with The Slip and So Much Love

So RR and I are on the road here in the Maritimes doing a combination book tour/vacation, and it's been an interesting few days to say the least. On Monday of last week, we read before a small but mighty crowd at Tidewater Books in Sackville, NB, and then made our way to PEI for an event at Charlottetown's Confederation Library last Thursday. The day before that event, we got to do a wonderful interview with CBC Charlottetown's Angela Walker for her show Mainstreet, which you can listen to here.  

And speaking of radio interviews, I was also pleased to see this interview I did with the super-talented Jamie Tennant for McMaster's 93.3 FM CFMU campus radio in Hamilton about a month ago was posted while we were here. Tennant is an accomplished novelist in his own right, and his show, GET LIT, is a perfect platform for his serious interviewing chops.

Finally, there was also this lovely review of The Slip posted the other day on Brenton Dickieson's blog, A Pilgrim in Narnia. Some of you may recall that Brenton, who lives here on PEI and with whom I went to high school, wrote a very generous review of my previous novel, Sad Peninsula, for his blog earlier this year. I am, as always, eternally grateful for the care and insights he has shown in his attention to my work.

Despite all this business, RR and I have managed to get some relaxation/family time in as well. The photo above shows us at Rustico Beach with my parents shortly after we arrived on PEI, and we've had some spectacular meals, lazy strolls, family-filled visits, mornings of sleeping in, a Scrabble game or two, and various other rejuvenating activities we don't get to partake in very much in our busy lives back in Toronto. It's nice to get a break.