The world of The Blue Clerk comes alive in colour. It is all “violet toll roads, freezing violet, museums of blue, violet turbines, blue vistas,” (211) all “the sense of orange” (209), all “the escarpment of a yellow house” (209). This world is moving like the water by the wharf where the Blue Clerk lives, a space of experience and texture, rather than time and place. The text is urgent and it is contemplative, it is stressed and unstressed, it lives in the complexity of difference and duality. Within the narrative, the main fixed points are the conversations between the Clerk and the Author,
I told someone a story because I knew they would spread it. Stories were told to me with the same intent. Between women in Canlit, these circulated narratives are often about men in the community. Charming abusers. Tenured predators. Shitty men with track records of repeated shittiness. Let’s be explicit: women don’t take joy from these stories, in being the orator or the audience.Read more →
Antigone Undone, the latest book by Montreal writer Will Aitken (University of Regina Press), is a fascinating and emotionally driven look at Aitken’s behind-the-scenes experience of a production of Antigone directed by Ivo Van Hove, starring Juliette Binoche, with a translation by Anne Carson. From strolling around Luxembourg where the play débuted, to a tense few days in Amsterdam, and back to Montreal, Aitken gives the reader a deeply personal glimpse at an episode of depression that was sparked by encountering Antigone, both the play and the character. Using his own experience as a starting point, Aitken then explores various interpretations of Antigone, through scholarly texts and through interviews with Binoche, Carson and Van Hove about the play. By blending genres and exploring the stylistic elements of memoir, travelogue, essay, and academic writing, it’s a beautiful book that examines the vast power art has over us, in both its creative and destructive capacities.
Emily Keeler, my editor when I wrote book reviews for The National Post, asked me if I had any ideas for a long-essay-short-book when she took over Coach House’s Exploded Views line. The idea for Curry came from the way I read, which is to pick up an increasing number of books around a central subject I have an undefined interest in–Emily asking that question at the right time led me to actually nail down the reasons why I’d been reading old or atypical novels, memoirs, and travelogues about India. Much of it had to do with the way that market forces seemed to want from my writing, if what I wanted from my writing was money–which, I’m afraid, is true to a not inconsiderable degree.
THIS YEAR SHOULD HAVE been an auspicious one for CanLit. As Canada celebrates the sesquicentennial, it seems every newspaper, blog, and bookshop has a “top 150 Canadian books” list to push. Canada’s 150th also evokes fond memories of the 1967 centennial, when CanLit was just coming into its own. But for many, those 150 lists, chock full of CanLit luminaries like Michael Ondaatje and Margaret Atwood, are hard to stomach right now.
I am shortly going to be leaving the team in my official capacity as editor. I do so with mixed feelings. Once upon a time, I honestly felt I could tackle any amount of work that was thrown at me. The days seemed elastic. I could stretch them at either end, conjuring up just enough minutes or hours to always get things done. But I don’t feel that way anymore. I am trying to figure out how big each relative part of me is, and how to accommodate them all within a finite body.
The first job I ever had in the Montreal region was at a company called Bath Fitter, aka Bain Magique, up beyond Laval in a town called Saint Eustache. As I listened to the explanation of the pension benefits that I was entitled to, a repeat of conversations I’d had with prior employers in Edmonton, it dawned on me: I’ve never cared about this conversation, I still don’t care, and I actually feel it’s OK to not care, because I have very little faith that, by the time my retirement rolls around, the world that we know – mortgages, insurance plans, “financial security” etc. – will exist.
Congratulations to Lesley Trites for winning the 2016 3Macs carte blanche Prize last night at the Quebec Writers’ Federation Gala for her story “Rabbits with Red Eyes.”