Friday, September 23, 2016

Acceptance: Humber Literary Review

Well, I had some good news earlier this week: A poem of mine, called "Dysthymia," as been accepted for the fall issue of The Humber Literary Review, slated for release in late November. It will be a special edition of the magazine focusing on the theme of mental illness. This poem is the first in a batch of new verse I started writing earlier this year to get accepted for publication, so I'm very pleased about that. It looks like there will be a Toronto launch for the issue, which is exciting as well. Anyway, I will keep you all posted as we get closer to the publication date.


Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Word on the Street 2016

Just a short note to say I'll be appearing at the Word on the Street festival in Toronto this Sunday, September 25, at Harbourfront Centre. You can find me at the Palimpsest Press booth between 4 pm and 5 pm in support of my poetry collection, Weathervane. My spies indicate that there are still several Canadians who have not yet purchased this book, so if you're one of them, why not come by, pick up a copy, and have me sign it for you. The day is always loads of fun, with dozens of writers, publishers and booksellers around to help you get your bibliophilic fix. Hope to see you there!

Friday, September 16, 2016

The Slip has a cover!

Aaaaaand here it is! I'm very stoked to reveal the cover for my new novel, The Slip, which goes on sale next May from Dundurn. Check it out:

The book has cleared the copyediting stage and I should be receiving the first page proofs in a couple of weeks. Then the Advance Reading Copies (or ARCs) get printed and sent around to various magazines, awards committees, booksellers and so forth.

And for those of you who may have forgotten what The Slip is about (or, indeed, forgotten that I'm publishing a new novel in the spring), here is the updated back cover copy:

In this wickedly funny novel, one bad afternoon and two regrettable comments make the inimitable Philip Sharpe go viral for all the worst reasons.

Dr. Philip Sharpe, absentminded professor extraordinaire, teaches philosophy at the University of Toronto and is one of Canada’s most combative public intellectuals. But when a live TV debate with his fiercest rival goes horribly off the rails, an oblivious Philip says some things to her that he really shouldn’t have.

As a clip of Philip’s “slip” goes viral, it soon reveals all the cracks and fissures in his marriage with his young, stay-at-home wife, Grace. And while the two of them try to get on the same side of the situation, things quickly spiral out of control.

Can Philip make amends and save his marriage? Is there any hope of salvaging his reputation? To do so, he’ll need to take a hard look at his on-air comments, and to conscript a band of misfits in a scheme to set things right.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Review of Weathervane in The Winnipeg Free Press

Well, Google Alerts has once again failed me, as there was a really great capsule review of Weathervane in The Winnipeg Free Press a couple of weeks ago, which I totally missed. The review is written by the omnivorous Jonathan Ball (you may recall he also wrote the paper's review of Sad Peninsula back in 2014) and is included in a packet of pieces looking at books by fellow poets Kim Fu, Stephen Heighton, and Susan Holbrook. The review calls Weathervane "a taut, confident debut from an already accomplished author" and has other nice things to say about it. As always, I'm very grateful for the ink and the publicity.

I also want to apologize for radio silence here on the blog over the last little while. I realize that I posted exactly nothing in the month of July, and didn't do a ton of entries in June, either. I have multiple excuses: a European vacation, edits on my latest novel, The Slip, due to Dundurn, and another writing project outside of fiction and poetry that is eating up the time I usually devote to blogging. Anyway, please know I am alive and well, and will try to post more often when I can.


Thursday, June 23, 2016

Major new academic essay, in which Sad Peninsula features prominently

Let's call it the "snooping self on the Web" discovery of the year. I was checking out Sad Peninsula’s holdings on yesterday when I found that someone has published a major new piece of scholarship on comfort women novels, in which my book features prominently. Professor Jeongyun Ko of Dong-A University has written “‘Good’ Comfort Women Novel? Ethics and Representational Tactics of Korean Comfort Women Novels in English” for the academic journal Korean Association for Feminist Studies in English Literature. Professor Ko’s essay touches on the various themes and tropes found throughout the corpus of comfort women fiction, but she focuses her analysis on two recent novels to join the genre – mine and Kalliope Lee’s Sunday Girl (Psychopomp Press, 2013).

I know by now that one must take all literary “accomplishments” with a certain grain of salt, but I find myself especially chuffed by this delightful news. While academic journals don’t typically have a broad audience, I have to believe that a large scholarly essay such as this one is less ephemeral than your average work-a-day book review. This paper may well be read, discussed and cited by like-minded academics over the years, and hopefully lead some of them to Sad Peninsula. What’s more, many authors have to wait until they’re dead before they have any scholarship written about them, so I’m grateful that this work of mine has gotten some academic love less than two years out of the gate.

As well, Professor Ko has many flattering things to say about Sad Peninsula. In comparing its narrative approach to other comfort women fiction, she writes:

Sad Peninsula concedes two new important thematic focuses that have not been fully explored in other comfort women novels in English. First, the question of ethics and representation of comfort women is scrutinized within the text through the depiction of “foreigner” Michael’s fascination with Eun-young’s past as a comfort woman. Second, Eun-young’s narrative, which unfolds her life back in Korea, not just the enslavement experiences, presents a powerful voice of a Korean female heroine who is more than just a comfort woman trapped in a victim trope.

To read the essay in full, go to the journal issue’s landing page and then click on the “4.Ko.pdf” link (you may have to hunt for it – it’s tiny!) to download the file.

Monday, June 13, 2016

My Numero Cinq review of Benjamin Hale's The Fat Artist and Other Stories

Yes, yes, a book reviewer's work is never done. While I wasn't expecting to see this piece published until later this summer, it was great to see Numero Cinq post my review of Benjamin Hale's masterful new short story collection, The Fat Artist earlier today. Since submitting my review, I've been singing this book's praises to anyone who will listen - my wife, coworkers, strangers at the bank. I think what I appreciate most about it is how Hale is able to write in several different registers and adopt so many different perspectives in these stories. His is a massive talent and I am a proud convert. Go put this book on your summer reading list. You won't regret it.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Speaking of Quill and Quire ...

... my Q&Q review of Torp, by Michael Mirolla, is now online. Rereading the review, I now wonder if readers may think that I have direct experience of being in Vancouver during the FLQ crisis in 1970. I don't. I wasn't born until 1975. Which I guess just means Mirolla did a great job of creating a believable zeitgeist in his novel. Anyway, an interesting book with interesting things happening in it. Go check it out!