I’ll be reading at the UVic Department of Writing Faculty Reading Night with Maureen Bradley, Kevin Kerr, David Leach, Tim Lilburn, Lorna Jackson, Joan MacLeod, Lynne Van Luven, JoAnn Dionne, Connor Gaston, and Fiona Mitchell. Should be a good night!
7pm Thursday, September 26
Room A240 HSD (Human & Social Development Building)
Being done classes has meant that I have a little more time again, and though I’m looking forward to returning to work on a MFA in the fall, it’s been nice to have the morning free before slogging it out on the computer then teaching. (Always on one keyboard or the other)
A number of my students are playing J.S.Bach’s Inventions, so I cleared off the harpsichord of notes for the novel and more than a few glasses/mugs/plants. It’s just a kit, but more apartment friendly then a piano (as is the tiny pump organ beside it) and I’ve developed a weird affection for it.
I also dragged out “Darwin’s Bastards” collection by Zsuzsi Gartner because Sheila Heti has a story in it and she’s reading and being interviewed by Lee Henderson tomorrow. (Check it out here: Open Space) And yes, that is an overgrowen pitcher plant behind the book.
I recently read “The Flame Alphabet” by Ben Marcus. The book looks great, the title is good, and the premise (the language of children has become toxic) got me on a bus in search of it. Additionally, it has Big Names (Chabon, Sfran Foer) on the back pumping the book’s Awesomeness. And there is some awesomeness to the book–there’s a lot of great descriptions and the quality of writing is A+. There’s just…too much of it. And nothing really happens.
There are comprehensive (uncomfortable) reviews already out there, so I won’t go on, but reading “The Flame Alphabet” got me thinking of all the really great books I’ve read lately.
Here (in the order they came to me) are a few:
1. The Sisters Brothers ~ Patrick deWitt
A Western that doesn’t go where you expect it. Dark, funny, and surreal. A book that inspires writing (read: I wish I wrote this)
2. Breath ~ Tim Winton
I’ve admired Tim Winton’s prose since discovering his short stories “The Turning”, and while his stories seem well-knit I haven’t always loved the structure to his novels. This one, though, was fab: a lesson in retrospective.
3. The Golden Mean ~ Annabel Lyon
A novel about Aristotle, this book convinced me to try first person point of view (thank-you, Annabel.)
4. Civilwarland in Bad Decline ~ George Saunders
Bleak, funny, heartful; classic Saunders plus ghosts.
Attended Micheal Ondaatje’s reading of “The Cat’s Table” last night at the AGPH. Mr Ondaatje read for 40 minutes then answered questions. It turns out that the Cat’s Table is a German phrase for the least important table with the least important people–interesting term! The book is on my to-read list.
Thursday August 18th 6pm-10pm Vancouver is showing off its Literary Journals. I’d really like to go to this year’s Main Street Mag, but am busy this week introducing 7-12 year-olds to music through group piano classes at the Victoria Conservatory of Music. Go if you can!
I’ve been a fan Tim Winton since I read The Turning, his collection of short fiction. His latest novel, Breath, is one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. Not only is the story itself exhilarating, the technique is controlled to the point of being invisible. Want to write? Here is a guide to the retrospective novel.
So, the Malahat Review’s Spring Edition 174 came out a while back and Michael Larson’s short story “The Woods” caught my attention. I haven’t read anything by him before, but his story has been knocking around my brain from the first read. If you haven’t read it, this would be a good edition of the Malahat to pick up: besides Michael’s piece it also features this years Open Season winners.
So fellow UVic-ite and soon to be UBC-er Will Johnson won the The Fiddlehead’s Short Fiction competition this year with his piece “Sea to Sky”.
It’s a fine read, with clean, straight forward prose, and MiriamToews-esque characters that are full of honesty and heart. You can read a clip here: The Fiddlehead Sea to Sky
Two great things are happening this friday, and though I can’t do both I wish I could! Take your pick:
May 6 at 8pm
Alix Goolden Hall
VS Principal Violist Kenji performs Jacques Hetu’s Viola Concerto in the second and final Odyssey concert of the season. Principal Guest Conductor Alain Trudel conducts this show, which also includes Adams’ Shaker Loops, Bouchard’s Exquisite Fires,
and Bolcom’s Commedia for (almost) 18th century orchestra. Join us for an evening of excellent (and slightly outside-of-the-box) modern classical music at the Alix Goolden Hall.
Munro’s Books Presents
Elizabeth Hay and Miriam Toews
Friday May 6th 7:30
Fairfield United Church
1303 Fairfield Road
This year we received over two-hundred and fifty short stories and over three-hundred and fifty poems! Needless to say, the decisions were difficult and the quality of the work was phenomenal. But after weeks and weeks of deliberation, the editorial board and the editors decided on the final shortlists. The poetry shortlist went to Brad Cran — the poet laureate of Vancouver. And the fiction shortlist went to John K. Samson — musician, fiction enthusiast and publisher.
The winners of 2011 PRISM international poetry and fiction contest are —
Poetry Grand Prize Winner — $1,000
“My Father in his garden, depicted in the woodblock print of the Taishō dynasty” by Pamela Porter
Poetry First Runner-up — $300
“Reincarnation Study 1982″ by Sheryda Warrener
Poetry Second Runner-up — $200
“Pop Quiz” by Scott Ramsay
Fiction Grand Prize Winner — $2,000
“Bridges” by Erin Frances Fisher
Fiction First Runner-up — $200
“Squatters” by Robert James Hicks
Fiction Second Runner-up — $200
“The Ghost” by Mark Jacquemain
Congratulations to all of the winners! Thank you to everyone who entered! And thanks to our judges Brad Cran and John K. Samson! The winning entries and runners-up will be published in the Summer 2011 issue of PRISM (49.4).
ALSO: The New Malahat Review Launches tonight! I’m teaching but it should be a fun thing!