Last year an anthology of new pei writing, Riptides, came out from The Acorn Press. It’s up this year for an atlantic book award. Last night there was a fiction panel on it, hosted by Simon Lloyd, and featuring: Richard Lemm, the editor; Beth Janzen; Steven Mayoff; Malcolm Murray; and Helen Pretulak, all contributors. (I’m in it too, plus about 18 others.) For the most part the panel and audience were in sync, with good questions asked by the writers and editor (almost all of who seem to not be from pei), and from the audience. Questions were asked about inspiration, if endings were difficult (a few thought beginnings were tougher), about markets and being from pei. There was also a direct question about pei content (sort of like cancon) and if anyone felt obligated to make mention of the Island. Most didn’t, thankfully. One audience member had the best remark: that everyone present was from some other place originally, and that no one was any more of an Islander than anyone else.
Soon we’ll hear what book won the award. It would certainly be nice to be associated with that, and Richard and The Acorn Press deserve the commendation.
For a few days there was lots of talk over at Big Other on Chad Pelley’s piece. Always good to get into a discussion about the importance of writing. Thanks to all who participated, with two of three coasts represented, and to those who wrote private notes as well.
A late-March article by Chad Pelley, a Newfoundland writer, in The National Post‘s “Afterword” section, caught my attention about ten days ago, when I first came across it. After doing some thinking (and I get along with Chad), I posted this rejoinder over at Big Other.
Here are some other books that have come into my apartment, to read when the mood and time are right. Christopher WunderLee’s Loony, a short novel, engaged me last year, so I want to see what he’s like in long form with Moore’s Mythopoeia. Thomas Glavinic’s Pull Yourself Together appealed because another book of his, Night Works, was disturbing and pretty good. Lucy Ellmann’s Mimi I read a very strong review about. Madeleine Thien writes about cambodia in her novel Dogs at the Perimeter, which she gave an effective, and affecting, reading from and presentation about recently where I live. From the terrors of Pol Pot we descend to the astonishing cruelty of Mao with Yank Jisheng’s Tombstone, a new history of the devastating chinese famine that comes highly rated. As does Anne Applebaum’s Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe 1944-1956, another book filled with oppression and misery, I expect. The Balkans: 1804-2012 looks to be somewhat more of the same. Last, on a completely different note, The Letters of William Gaddis, edited by Steven Moore; they’re bound to be interesting and revealing.
The mail doesn’t just bring bills; it brings books I’ll have the pleasure to read and then write on in the near future.
The top two titles are: Sam Savage’s The Way of the Dog; and The End of Oulipo?, by Lauren Elkin and Scott Esposito. Savage is a good writer, of tense and short novels that cleave to one figure (rat or person) in ways that can be harrowing; speculation on the future of Oulipo should be interesting. When I first read Strindberg in university the intensity of his plays surprised me, so I’m glad to have a biography of him. Chris Hedges and Joe Sacco are the co-creators of DDDR, presenting economic end-times (or so it appears) for certain parts of the united states, in text and illustrations. Lazy Bastardism is Carmine Starnino’s take on poetry and criticism in canada. He’s usually vigorous, so I hope to see the same thing here. The near-title to a classic, Moby-Duck, is a non-fiction work tracing bath toys that were lost at sea. It’s by Donovan Hohn. Lastly, Gert Jonke is an austrian writer who died in 2009. More of his fiction is coming out into english, thanks to Dalkey and also Ariadne. I’m looking forward to a novel with such a title as Awakening to the Great Sleep War.
This steps away from the usual focus of this blog to participate in a meme that’s going around. Shari Lapena explains this way:
“I’m excited to be part of this interview that is flying blog to blog, where writers talk about The Next Big Thing they’re working on, then tag another five writers (or in my case, four) who answer the same ten questions, and then tag another five writers, and so on. It’s a great way to find out about other writers’ works in progress.”