If Ben could fly, I’m sure he would be awesome. But he’s a boy. Less like a bird than a ferocious lab monkey, or a study in alchemy. He is driven by an energy that transforms endlessly throughout the day, from molasses to mercury and back again. It can take him twenty minutes to get his clothes on in the morning.
The four of us were at that difficult age when young males do not yet need to shave but do so anyway. It was early March, a day of false spring but still nippy. Underdressed, our cold-weather gear prematurely left at home, we were shooting hoops in the half court up towards the Sherbrooke end of Addington. Separated by just one row of triplexes from the Expressway’s all-devouring maw, it’s a spot that looms so large in the mythology of me and many of my peers, living and departed, that I tend to forget it’s not necessarily world famous. So I’d better provide a bit of background.
The art on the walls is unremarkable so you let the conversation flow with yet again, “It must be wonderful,” until again, “I really must go.”
Creative nonfiction is the term of choice these days. It certainly didn’t start that way, and there are still several other ways of referring to “that way of writing” which readers might also be familiar with: literary nonfiction, literary journalism, narrative prose, you get the idea. We’re trying to find a way to nail this baby, the “baby” being, in the short form of the definition, the application of literary techniques to documentary material.
My father caught my mother having an affair in their seventeenth year. He waited outside the boyfriend’s house and when he walked out my father tried to run him down with his ’92 Celica. All I did was mow down this chump’s rose garden. She dismisses me with a flip of her dark, braided hair, tasty as black licorice. I can’t honestly say why I did it. On my way back from P.J.’s in Ardmore, a couple of frosty Rolling Rocks in my gut, surely an impulsive thing. A hit on the ol’ adrenaline bong.
What is translation? Phil Stratford used to say it’s a really profound reading of the text. You read it so closely and so intimately that it becomes part of you, and another part of your intellect or your brain sets itself the task of, not reinventing, not recreating, but remaking it in the other language.