7th Review of The Lizard

A website called Weird Canada has reviewed The Lizard and Other Stories (2009).

Here’s what Joshua Robinson had to say …


As curator of The Danforth Review, Toronto’s Michael Bryson contributes much more than merely thoughts on page. His short works in The Lizard and Other Stories hint at the subtle contradictions inextricably interwoven into the dual fabric of perception and interpretation; of love cast against the existential enmities of loneliness, power, and tragedy.

Love — as told through the experiences of characters running from home, searching for meaning, and struggling to regain a sense of direction in an increasingly hostile ethos — is that great binding force that exists both subjectively and objectively, residing in the fragile middle-ground where that nascent sense of fulfillment lingers right before the pin drops, and the bright and swirling grand illusion of complete happiness gives way to a loneliness born of a powerfully tragic misconstrual of what one truly needs to feel most alive.

This is a collection of short stories that speaks of the inner-battling between pride and compliance; of the ebb and flow of a constantly compromising world with others and within oneself. Where love, and indeed our sense of place, is hardwired and whittled by our reflections on those around us: of how we place ourselves next to them, of how we mentally superimpose our stories on the lives of those very others. Transcendence when grounding is needed; life, opaque and incommunicable, yet we persevere, and draw together the fragments of former selves to construct a new form, one that will exist to precede the next reconstitution; constantly changing, constantly emerging from the wakes that we create.

Wandering the Earth: A Selected Stories Sampler

Wandering the Earth: A Selected Stories Sampler (e-book), published today at Smashwords. ISBN 978-0-9866206-3-8

And the Lord said unto Satan, Whence comest thou? Then Satan answered the Lord, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.

Table of contents:

  • Boys and Girls, Girls and Boys
  • Beginnings and Endings
  • Running with that Indian
  • Border Guard
  • Watching the Lions
  • Book of Job
  • Six Million, Million Miles
  • Yes, I Wanted to Say
  • Niagara
  • My Life In Television
  • Bonus Track: Hercules

Read these stories and more in:

Essay: Criticism is demolition?

I recently read Craig Sigelman’s book-length essay on the Susan Sontag and Pauline Kael. Subtitled Opposite’s Attract Me, the book, I found, was as much a reflection on the art of criticism as it was on the two brilliant critics.

My review essay of the book found a home on Douglas Glover’s Numero Cinq, and you can find it here.

20 Years of Book Reviews

The reviews below are sorted by:

[Updated: Oct 13, 2014]

Book reviews – The Underground Book Club

  • Feb 1, 2015. Mark Sampson. Sad Peninsula.
  • Jan 31, 2015. Leanne Simpson. Islands of Decolonial Love.
  • Jan 31, 2015. Rae Spoon and Ivan E. Coyote. Gender Failure.
  • Oct 23, 2014. Shawn Syms. Nothing Looks Familiar.
  • Oct 10, 2014. Sheila Heti. How Should A Person Be?
  • Sept 19, 2014. Michelle Berry. Interference.
  • April 13, 2014. Zach Wells. Career Limiting Moves.
  • April 1, 2014. Kerry Clare (ed.). The M Word: Conversations About Motherhood.
  • July 14, 2013. Peter Roman. The Mona Lisa Sacrifice.
  • July 7, 2013. Donald Barthelme. Not-Knowing.
  • July 6, 2013. Sam Lipsyte. The Fun Parts.
  • June 22, 2013. Spencer Gordon. Cosmo.
  • June 9, 2013. Best Canadian Stories 2012.
  • June 3, 2013. Julian Barnes. Levels of Life.
  • June 2, 2013. Primo Levi. The Periodic Table.
  • May 19, 2013. Paul Auster & J.M. Coetzee. Here and Now.
  • August 6, 2012. John Bayley. Widower’s House.
  • August 5, 2012. Shakespeare. Hamlet.
  • May 8, 2012. Eric McCormack. Inspecting the Vaults.
  • April 23, 2012. Derek Hayes. The Maladjusted.
  • March 17, 2012. Russell Wagnersky. Whirl Away.
  • Nov 27, 2011. Diary of a Bad Year by J.M. Coetzee; A Man Without a Country by Kurt Vonnegut; Arguably: Essays by Christopher Hitchens
  • Nov 12, 2011. Steven Heighton. Workbook.
  • Oct 29, 2011. Pretty by Greg Kearney; The Divinity Gene by Matthew J. Trafford; Nothing Could be Further by Tim Conley; Ronald Reagan, My Father by Brian Joseph Davis
  • Oct 10, 2011. Gunmetal Blue by Shane Neilson; Human Happiness by Brian Fawcett
  • Sept 26, 2011. Cigar Box Banjo: Notes on Music and Life by Paul Quarrington; The Perfect Order of Things by David Gilmour; Beauty & Sadness by André Alexis
  • Sept 7, 2011. Clark Blaise. The Meagre Tarmac (Biblioasis, 2011).
  • Sept 5, 2011. Blake Bailey. Cheever: A Life (Knopf, 2009).
  • Sept 3, 2011. Jessica Westhead. And Also Sharks (Cormorant, 2011).
  • Sept 2, 2011. Dimitri Nasrallah. Nico (Esplanade, 2011).
  • June 19, 2011. Wayde Compton. After Canaan (Arsenal Pulp Press, 2010).
  • June 13, 2011. Shane Jones. Light Boxes (Penguin, 2010).
  • May 5, 2011. Re: Reading the Postmodern: Canadian Literature and Criticism After Modernism. Edited by Robert David Stacey (University of Ottawa Press, 2010).
  • April 13, 2011. Maggie Helwig. Girls Fall Down (Coach House, 2008).
  • April 10, 2011. Stacey May Fowles. Be Good (Tightrope Books, 2007).
  • March 10, 2011. Zadie Smith. Changing My Mind: Occasional Essays (2009).
  • March 6, 2011. Amy Lavender Harris. Imagining Toronto (Mansfield Press, 2010).
  • Feb 7, 2011. Dany Laferrière. I am a Japanese Writer (Douglas & MacIntyre, 2010).
  • Feb 2, 2011. W.P. Kinsella. Shoeless Joe Jackson Comes to Iowa (Oberon, 1980), Salvatore Difalco. The Mountie at Niagara Falls (Anvil, 2010), The Journey Prize Anthology #22 (M&S, 2010).
  • Jan 29, 2011. Bruce Serafin. Stardust (New Star, 2007).
  • Jan 23, 2011. Sina Queyras. Unleashed (Book Thug, 2009).
  • Jan 5, 2011. Shane Neilson. Complete Physical (Porcupine’s Quill, 2010).
  • Dec 22, 2010. Cormac McCarthy. Blood Meridian or the Evening Redness in the West (1985).
  • Nov 20, 2010. Jim Smith. Back Off, Assassin! New and Selected Poems (Mansfield Press, 2009), Patrick Lane. Witness: Selected Poems 1962-2010 (Harbour, 2010).
  • Nov 11, 2010. Matt Lennox. Men of Salt, Men of Earth (Oberon, 2009).
  • Sept 6, 2010. David Adams Richards of the Miramichi: A Biographical Introduction by Tony Tremblay (UTP, 2010).
  • Aug 29, 2010. Darwin’s Barstards: Astounding Tales from Tomorrow, selected and edited by Zsuzsi Gartner (Douglas & McIntryre, 2010).
  • Aug 17, 2010. Kenneth Sherman. What the Furies Bring (Porcupine’s Quill, 2009).
  • July 29, 2010. Diana Fitzgerald Bryden. No Place Strange (Key Porter, 2009).
  • July 19, 2010. Jessica Grant. Come, Thou Tortoise (Vintage Canada, 2009).
  • June 5, 2010. Peter Darbyshire. The Warhol Gang (Harper Collins, 2010).
  • April 25, 2010. David Solway. Director’s Cut (Porcupine’s Quill, 2003), Carmine Starnino. A Lover’s Quarrel (Porcupine’s Quill, 2004), Philip Marchand. Ripostes (Porcupine’s Quill, 1998).
  • Dec 20, 2009. Lisa Moore. February.
  • Oct 25, 2009. Richard Van Camp. The Moon of Letting Go (Enfield & Wizenty, 2009).
  • Sept 4, 2009. Zoe Whittall. Bottle Rocket Hearts (Comorant, 2007).
  • Sept 4, 2009. John Goldbach. Selected Blackouts (Insomniac Press, 2009).
  • July 24, 2009. Margaret Christakos. Sooner (Coach House Books, 2005).
  • July 11, 2009. Alexandra Leggat. Animal (Anvil Press, 2009).
  • July 5, 2009. Terry Griggs. Thought You Were Dead (Biblioasis, 2009).
  • June 21, 2009. James Salter. A Sport and a Pastime (Farrer, Straus and Giroux, 1967).
  • June 12, 2009. Tish Cohen. Inside Out Girl (Harper Collins, 2008).
  • May 26, 2009. Stuart Ross. Buying Cigarettes for the Dog (Freehand Books, 2009).
  • May 16, 2009. John Metcalf. Shut Up He Explained: A Literary Memoir Vol. II (Biblioasis, 2007), An Aesthetic derground: A Literary Memoir (Thomas Allen, 2003), Kicking Against The Pricks (ECW, 1982).
  • May 10, 2009. Roy MacSkimming. The Perilous Trade (M&S, 2003, 2007).
  • April 28, 2009. Marianne Apostolides. Swim (Book Thug, 2009).
  • March 19, 2009. Richard Yates. Revolutionary Road (1961).
  • Feb 22, 2009. Christopher Paul Curtis. Elijah of Buxton (Scholastic, 2007).
  • Feb 7, 2009. Clark Blaise. Selected Essays (Biblioasis, 2008).
  • Jan 22, 2009. Guy Vanderhaughe. Man Descending (Macmillian, 1982; Stoddart, 1992).
  • Jan 3, 2009. Rebecca Rosenblum.Once (Biblioasis, 2008).
  • Dec 14, 2008. Andrew Steinmetz. Eva’s Threepenny Theatre (Gaspereau, 2008),
  • Oct 3, 2008. Sky Gilbert. Brother Dumb (ECW, 2007).
  • Sept 1, 2008. Jonathan Bennett. Entitlement (ECW, 2008).
  • Aug 30, 2008. Jailbreaks: 99 Canadian Sonnets, edited by Zachariah Wells (Bibiloasis, 2008).
  • Aug 10, 2008. Charles Foran. Join the Revolution, Comrade: Journeys and Essays (Biblioasis, 2008).
  • June 28, 2008. Rawi Hage. De Niro’s Game (2006).
  • June 21, 2008. Richard Ford. Wildlife (1990).
  • June 8, 2008. J.M. Coetzee. Inner Workings: Essays 2000-2005.

TDR book reviews (by book publication date)

  • 2008. Stephen Henighan. The Afterlife of Culture.
  • 2008. Nathan Whitlock. A Week of This.
  • 2007. David Gilmour. Film Club.
  • 2007. Christian McPherson. Six Ways to Sunday.
  • 2007. Brian Tucker. Big White Knuckles.
  • 2006. Bono: In conversation with Michka Assayas.
  • 2006. John Updike. Terrorist.
  • 2006. Max and Monique Nemni. Young Trudeau: 1919-1944: Son of Quebec, Father of Canada.
  • 2006. Moosecall #3: Big Game, Small Stories.
  • 2006. Laura Hird. Hope and Other Urban Tales.
  • 2006. Kenneth J. Harvey. Inside.
  • 2006. Tim Conley. Whatever Happens.
  • 2006. Matthew Firth. Suburban Pornography.
  • 2006. Richard Ford. The Lay of the Land.
  • 2005. Philip David Alexander. The Next Rainy Day.
  • 2005. Craig Davidson. Rust and Bone.
  • 2005. Goran Simic. Yesterday’s People.
  • 2005. uTOpia: Towards a New Toronto.
  • 2004. Douglas Glover. The Enamoured Knight.
  • 2004. The Art of Desire: The Fiction of Douglas Glover. Ed., Bruce Stone.
  • 2004. Jaspreet Singh. 17 Tomatoes.
  • 2004. Gary Barwin. Doctor Weep and Other Strange Teeth.
  • 2004. Coming Attractions 04, featuring Neil Smith, Maureen Bilerman, Jaspreet Singh.
  • 2004. Douglas Glover. The South Will Rise at Noon.
  • 2004. James Grainger. The Long Slide.
  • 2004. Greg Kearney. Mommy, Daddy, Baby.
  • 2004. John Lavery. You, Kwaznievski, You Piss Me Off.
  • 2003. Ray Robertson. Mental Hygiene: Essays on Writers and Writing.
  • 2003. Andy Brown. I Can See You Being Invisible.
  • 2003. Jim Christy. Tight Like That.
  • 2003. J.J. Steinfeld. Curiosity to Satisfy and Fear to Placate.
  • 2003. John Gould. Kilter: 55 fictions.
  • 2003. Stuart Ross. Hey, Crumbling Balcony.
  • 2002. Peter Darbyshire. Please.
  • 2002. Anne Denoon Backflip.
  • 2002. Will Ferguson. Happiness.
  • 2002. Marilyn Gear Pilling. The Roseate Spoonbill of Happiness.
  • 2002. Grunt & Groan: The New Fiction Anthology of Work & Sex.
  • 2002. Sean Johnston. A Day Does Not Go By.
  • 2002. Catherine Kidd. Sea Peach.
  • 2002. Lisa Moore. Open.
  • 2002. Mordecai Richler. The Acrobats.
  • 2002. Rod Schumacher. Habits and Love.
  • 2002. Mary Chan. The Fifth Girl.
  • 2002. Hawksley Workman. Hawksley Burns for Isadora.
  • 2002. Mark Anthony Jarman. Ireland’s Eye.
  • 2001. Matt Cohen. Typing: A Life in 26 Keys & Uncommon Ground: A Celebration of Matt Cohen (2002).
  • 2001. George Elliott Clarke. Blue.
  • 2001. Haruki Murakami. Sputnik Sweetheart.
  • 2001. Hal Niezviecki. Ditch.
  • 2001. Sheila Heti. The Middle Stories.
  • 2001. Matthew Firth. Can You Take Me There, Now?
  • 2001. Mark Doyon. Bonneville.
  • 2001. Douglas Glover. The Life and Times of Captain N.
  • 2001. Terence M. Green. St. Patrick’s Bed.
  • 2001. Michael Redhill. Martin Sloane.
  • 2001. Ribsauce: a cd/anthology of words by women.
  • 2001. Leon Rooke. Painting the Dog.
  • 2001. George Murray. The Cottage Builder’s Letter.
  • 2000. Michael Twist. Highs & Lows: A Personal Approach to Living with Diabetes.
  • 2000. Unheard of…. (CD anthology).
  • 2000. Shelagh M. Rowan-Legg. Nitty Gritty: The Film Noir Poems.
  • 2000. Alexandra Leggat. Pull Gently, Tear Here.
  • 2000. Douglas Glover. 16 Categories of Desire.
  • 2000. Terence M. Green. Shadow of Ashland.
  • 2000. John Lavery. Very Good Butter.
  • 2000. The Paris Connection. Anthology.
  • 2000. Jason Gallagher. Three chapbooks & if I could be a bird I’d be a cat.
  • 2000. Penn Kemp. On Our Own Spoke (CD).
  • 2000. Hopi Martin. Harvest.
  • 2000. rob mclennan. Bagne or Criteria for Heaven.
  • 1999. rob mclennan. Bury me deep in the green wood.
  • 1999. rob mclennan. The Richard Brautigan Ahhhhhhhh.
  • 1999. Terence Young. The Island in Winter.
  • 1999. Clarence Bolt. Does Canada Matter? Liberalism and the Illusion of Sovereignty.
  • 1999. Robert Fulford. The Triumph of Narrative.
  • 1999. Peter Jaeger. ABC of Reading TRG.
  • 1999. Jennifer LoveGrove. The Scorpion Wife.
  • 1999. Turn of the Story: Canadian Short Fiction on the Eve of the Millennium.
  • 1999. Brian Panhuyzen. Death of the Moon.
  • 1999. Natalee Caple. The Plight of Happy People in an Ordinary World.
  • 1999. Lynn Crosbie. Dorothy L’Amour: A Novel.
  • 1999. Monica S. Kuebler. Legacy (and other short fiction).
  • 1999. Clive Doucet. Looking for Henry.
  • 1999. A.D. Peterkin. The Bald-Headed Hermit & the Artichoke: An Erotic Thesaurus.
  • 1999. Evelyn Lau. Choose Me.
  • 1999. Russell Smith. Young Men.
  • 1999. Tony Burgess. Caesarea.
  • 1999. T. Anders Carson. Stain (CD).
  • 1998. Tony Burgess. Pontypool Changes Everything.
  • 1998. Natalee Caple. The Heart is Its Own Reason.
  • 1998. Lynn Coady. Strange Heaven.
  • 1998. Michael Holmes. 21 Hotels.
  • 1998. Michael Ignatieff. Isaiah Berlin: A Life.
  • 1998. Mark Anthony Jarman. New Orleans is Sinking.
  • 1997. Mark Anthony Jarman. Salvage King, Ya!: A Herky-Jerky Picaresque.
  • 1997. T. Anders Carson. Salt Pork and Sunsets.
  • 1991. Don DeLillo. Mau II.
  • 1987. Saul Bellow. More Die of Heartache.

Book reviews (by periodical publication date)

  • June 2014. Canadian Notes & Queries. Lisa Moore. Caught.
  • October 22, 2013. Music & Literature. Douglas Glover. Savage Love.
  • October 2013. Quill & Quire. Cynthia Flood. Red Girl Rat Boy.
  • September 2013. Quill & Quire. Melia McClure. The Delphi Room.
  • Aug 12, 2013. The Winnipeg Review. Paulo da Costa’s The Green and Purple Skin of the World; Collette Maitland’s Keeping the Peace
  • October 2011. Quill and Quire. Guy Vanderhaeghe. A Good Man.
  • September 26, 2011. The Winnipeg Review. Lynn Coady. The Antagonist.
  • August 1, 2011. Numero Cinq. Craig Seligman. Sontag & Kael: Opposites Attract Me (Counterpoint, 2004).
  • Spring 2011. Coastlands: Maritime Policy Review. Tony Tremblay. David Adams of the Miramichi.
  • October 2010. Quill & Quire. Trevor Clark. Love on the Killing Floor. Now or Never.
  • September 2010. Quill and Quire. Rudy Wiebe. Collected Stories: 1955-2010. U of Alberta Press.
  • July 2010. Quill and Quire. Jim Christy. Real Gone. Quattro Books.
  • May 2010. Quill and Quire. Ryan Knighton. C’mon Papa: Dispatches from a Dad in the Dark. Knopf.
  • April 2010. Quill and Quire. Jack Hodgins. The Invention of the World. Ronsdale Press. The Master of Happy Endings. Thomas Allen.
  • Jan/Feb 2010. Quill and Quire. Ryan Turner. What We’re Made Of. Oberon.
  • Sept 2001. Quill and Quire. Memos to the Prime Minister: What Canada Could Be in the 21st Century. Ed., Harvey Schachter. John Wiley & Sons.
  • July 2001. Quill and Quire. Arthur Bishop. Unsung Courage: 20 Stories of Canadian Valour & Sacrifice. HarperCollins.
  • June 2001. Quill and Quire. Janice MacDonald. Sticks and Stones: A Randy Craig Mystery. Turnstone.
  • April 2001. Quill and Quire. Barry K. Wilson. Benedict Arnold: A Traitor in Our Midst. McGill-Queen’s UP.
  • Feb 2001. Quill and Quire. John Farrow. Ice Lake. HarperCollins.
  • Dec 2000. Quill and Quire. Josef Skvorecky. When Eve Was Naked. Key Porter.
  • Oct 2000. Quill and Quire. James Kostelniuk. Wolves Among Sheep: The True Story of Murder in a Jehovah’s Witness Community. HarperCollins.
  • August 2000. Quill and Quire. Fighting for Canada: Seven Battles, 1758-1945. Ed., Donald E. Graves. Robin Brass Studio.
  • May 2000. Quill and Quire. Mark Anthony Jarman. 19 Knives. Anansi.
  • April 2000. Quill and Quire. Barbara Lampert. A Message for Mr. Lazarus. Cormorant.
  • Feb 2000. Quill and Quire. Michael Holmes. Watermelon Row. Arsenal Pulp Press.
  • Jan 2000. Mike Barnes. Aquarium. Porcupine’s Quill.
  • Nov 1999. Quill and Quire. Barbara and Ormond Mitchell. W.O.: The Life of W.O. Mitchell, Beginnings to Who Has Seen the Wind. M&S.
  • Sept 1999. Quill and Quire. George Bowering. Egotists and Autocrats: The Prime Ministers of Canada. Penguin.
  • July 1999. Quill and Quire. Karen Dubinsky. The Second Greatest Disappointment: Honeymooning and Tourism at Niagara Falls. Between the Lines.
  • April 1999. Quill and Quire. Cary Fagan. Felix Roth. Stoddart.
  • Feb 1999. Quill and Quire. John Farrow. City of Ice. HarperCollins.
  • 1998/99. Paragraph #25. Hal Niedzviecki. Smell It. Coach House.
  • 1998/99. Paragraph #25. Stan Rogal. Restless. Insomniac.
  • 1998. Paragraph #23. Sandra Birdsell. The Two-Headed Calf. M&S.
  • 1997. Paragraph #22. Barry Kennedy. Through the Nightfall. Doubleday.
  • 1997. Paragraph #21. Eye wuz here. Ed., Shannon Cooley. Douglas & McIntyre.
  • 1997. Paragraph #20. Ken Sparling. Dad Says He Saw You at the Mall. Knopf.
  • 1996. Paragraph #19. Alan Cumyn. Between Families and the Sky. Goose Lane.
  • 1996. Paragraph #17. Robert MacLean. Home from the Party. Ronsdale.
  • 1996. Paragraph #17. D.H. Toole. Moonlit Days & Nights. Cormorant.
  • Oct 1996. Id Magazine. Robert Bly. The Sibling Society. Addison-Wesley. Marion Woodman & Elinor Dickson. Dancing in the Flames: The Dark Goddess in the Transformation of Consciousness. Knopf.
  • July 1996. Id Magazine. Stephane Bourguignon. Sandman Blues. Stoddart.
  • Aug 19, 1995. KW Record. Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Of Love & Other Demons. Knopf.
  • Aug 1995. Id Magazine. Beds and Shotguns. desire high heels red wine. Ed., Mike O’Connor. Insomniac Press.
  • July 29, 1995. KW Record. Philip Zeigler. London at War. Knopf.
  • July 8, 1995. KW Record. Dennis E. Bolen. Stand in Hell. Random House.
  • June 3, 1995. KW Record. Tom Flannagan. Waiting for the Wave: The Reform Party and Preston Manning. Stoddart. Trevor Harrison. Of Passionate Intensity: Right-Wing Populism and the Reform Party of Canada. U of Toronto Press.
  • June 1995. Id Magazine. Richard Wright. The Age of Longing. HarperCollins.
  • April 29, 1995. KW Record. Ivan Klima. Waiting for the Dark, Waiting for the Light. Grove Press.
  • April 22, 1995. KW Record. Sister Souljah. No Disrespect. Random House.
  • April 1995. Id Magazine. Charles Foran. The Last House of Ulster: A Family in Belfast. Harper Collins.
  • March 1995. Id Magazine. Dany Laferriere. Why Must a Black Writer Write About Sex?. Dining with a Dictator. Coach House.
  • Feb 18, 1995. KW Record. Jean Rouard. Of Illustrious Men. Fitzhenry & Whiteside.
  • Feb 1995. Id Magazine. Daniel Jones. The People One Knows. Mercury.
  • Jan 28, 1994. Imprint. Nino Ricci. In a Glass House. M&S.
  • June 26, 1992. Imprint. Toni Morrison. Jazz. Knopf.
  • May 29, 1992. Imprint. Rosemary Sullivan. By Heart: Elizabeth Smart, A Life. Penguin Books.
  • May 1, 1992. Imprint. Nino Ricci. Lives of the Saints. Cormorant.
  • Jan 10, 1992. Imprint. Douglas Coupland. Generation X. St. Martin’s Press.
  • Jan 10, 1992. Imprint. David Gilmour. How Boys See Girls. Random House.
  • Sept 27, 1991. Imprint. Milan Kundera. Immortality. Grove Press.

New Story: The Places You’ll Go

New story published online at Urban Graffiti. It’s called “The Places You’ll Go,” and it starts like this:

Four o’clock in the morning. I’m out again with strange men. Three this time. Gerald, Tyler and Mark. No, Mike. No, Alan. Shit, shit, shit. Mark. I’m sticking with Mark. I haven’t kissed him. He just moved to Toronto from Saskatchewan. He had a book of short stories published last year. No one noticed. Short stories, I told him. Fuck off. Why bother? Don’t you want to hunt the big beast? Don’t you want to rumble with the real men? The poets? he asked. Ha, ha. I sort of like him, but I’m drunk. Of course, I’m drunk. Gerald and Tyler both want to take me home. They’ve both had some success with me, and since the other side of midnight they’ve been competing to make me laugh. It’s sort of sweet, but not really. The laughter, I know, is just postage paid for another package. But I like to laugh. I’m a good laugher. It’s pretty much all I’ve got to live for most days, so I don’t take it for granted. Tyler’s looking at my tits, and now Gerald is, too. I can’t say it makes me uncomfortable, just bored. It doesn’t matter what you start of talking about, it always comes down to boobies. Yes, they’re lovely, and these boys are drunk, too. We’ll be moving on soon. Maybe I should take them both back to my place. Make them share the floor in the bathroom. What was it we were talking about? Mixed martial arts, it was. Factory farming. The oil spill in the Gulf. Fuck me. I don’t know what it is, but I’ve got to be getting something out of these late night sojourns. I wish I could say it was an education, but it just seems the same over and over. Whatever is in the news and polarized clichés. Gerald and Tyler are hanging in because they’ve got no better options and in the past I’ve gone home with each of them. And necked. Maybe more. Some digital action, maybe. Something swift, decisive. When I’m drunk, I like to cuddle without being poked. No fucking. I don’t fuck people I work with. I mean, I have, but I don’t. Not anymore. And by work with, I mean people in the industry. Including writers on book tours who tell me how good I look in a strapless black dress. I look great in a strapless black dress. I have a great rack and soulful eyes. Ha, ha. No, I haven’t heard that one before. Why don’t you try me?

Pardon me?

Oh, fuck. I said that out loud.

[Read full story at Urban Graffiti]

New Story – 27 Days

My story “27 Days” has been accepted by The New Quarterly, and I believe it will appear in their Fall 2011 issue.

Here’s how the story begins:

Did you hear the story about the guy in Germany who advertised on the internet for somebody he could eat? He found a victim, ate him, then was charged with murder. A psychologist told the court, “He feels complete now that he has someone inside him.” I clipped this story out of the newspaper and pinned it to the wall above my computer at work. At the time I wasn’t sure why I’d done that and I don’t know now, except that every day I look at the clipping and wonder about the mystery that is life.

What drives us forward except some sense of being incomplete?

Last week I read a story in the newspaper about some U.S. soldiers who’d come back from the war in Iraq. Before they’d left the theatre of war they’d been screened for symptoms of combat stress. They were also required to attend sessions where they were asked to talk about their feelings. The article said soldiers found this hard after months of keeping their feelings in check. Apparently at Fort Bragg in North Carolina there were four murders and three suicides after soldiers returned from the war in Afghanistan. The army was trying to correct this problem and prevent it from happening among the soldiers coming back from the Gulf. The newspaper quoted something one of the psychologists told the soldiers: “Your expectations and your spouse’s expectations regarding your sexual relations are different,” she told them. “They are going to want to re-establish intimate relations.” Apparently the soldiers call these sessions the “don’t beat your wife” briefings. When I showed the story to my wife, she said, “Not now. I don’t want to look at that now.”


New, old story published today on Douglas Glover’s blog. “Niagara,” from How Many Girlfriends (2010).

As DG summarizes: “For your delectation here is an ever-so-slightly Kafkaesque fable of globalization and corporate America, dry, tongue-in-cheek, and ambiguously erotic (the eros of the business-meeting, the power-mongering and seduction of the job interview that isn’t).”

The Short Stories of Carol Shields

The new issue of Canadian Notes & Queries (CNQ #80) includes my essay “Thinking about gender and narrative: The short stories of Carol Shields.”

Click here for PDF copy.

Check out the magazine, if only for the other contributors. It’s a lovely, newly redesigned mag – frequently stuffed with lively and necessary (and ocassionally ridiculous) content.