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Thursday, June 30, 2005

Happy Canada Day!

Parliament Hill in Ottawa is a buzz this afternoon as roadies prepare the stage and perform sound checks for this long weekend's entertainment.

Thursday night was warm-up night. Kalen Porter and Measha Brueggergosman and even Donald Tarlton (DKD Productions) were out tonight. Growing up in Montreal all we continually heard radio ads for mega huge concerts and that they were promoted by 'DKD Productions'... and here the man is just a few feet away. Kathleen Edwards along with Sam Roberts will all be performing Canada Day on the hill.

Juan Butler's The Garbageman, a few notes

Ahhh. Now that the recently held high school reunion is over, back to regularly scheduled reading and blogging. I have to thank - I think - Toronto poet, Stuart Ross, for suggesting a recent read. I have no idea how Stu came upon this novel to suggest to me. I only spoke to him a few minutes at the Ottawa book fair the other week when he said, "Hey, John, have you ever read Juan Butler's The Garbageman?" Not having been acquainted with the work of Canadian novelist, Juan Butler, I made an online book order that evening.

Mr. Ross went on to say something akin to 'that it makes American Psycho by Brett Easton Ellis look like mere pranks done at a Sunday-school picnic.' He was right. I just finished reading the ultra-slim, ultra-violent novel last night. It was published by Peter Martin Associates in 1972. I confess, there were parts where I was insanely laughing (I wont tell you at which passages), you know the type of sniggling: where you can't believe someone actually published this stuff - it's so offensively in bad taste - I love it! and other places where I found myself repeatingly muttering, o h - m y - G o d . . . over and over.

From the opening page of the novel:

Tell me, in the anarchist society that you envisage, where all men will be fee, where no one will ever be in a position to impose his will upon his fellow man, where "doing your own thing" will be the norm rather than the exception, where creative leisure - as opposed to material success - will disappear and economic controls will exist on a purely voluntary basis, who will pick up the garbage?

The garbageman.

Along this first-person psychotic narrative, you will meet such characters as Uncle Joe; The Glorious Bubble; Maria Arado (whom also meets an untimely death in ultra-horrific detail); more than a few syphilitic junkie prostitutes; someone named 'Stuart' (not the poet); and finally the kind nurse, Miss Kennedy. There are no chapters in this novel, per se. Its style is a stream-of-conciousness of time and place told in part by a criminally dissociative character: "A Canadian writer. Living in Barcelona on a Canada Council Grant."(p. 53)

If you think that you enjoyed reading A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess, I believe the ultra-violence in Butler's novel pushes the needle that much further on the scale of ultra-violence. I will never have the same image of Bois de Boulogne, France, again.

Ka-Thump! Ka-Thump! Ka-Thump!

Juan Butler commited suicide by hanging himself close to a decade later after the publication of this second novel. He only wrote three books, Cabbagetown Diary, The Garbageman, and Canadian Healing Oil. When my nightmares end I may consider reading his two other books. I urge you to keep this book from reaching the innocent youth, that if they stumble upon it, they would insist on reading something other than the brain-numbing Harry Potter.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

PCHS Reunion 1985-2005 Photos

Disclaimer: I can't promise you are in the pics below. (Contact Frank Andree if you want to see yourself ;-) I only took so many photos, and of those, only a few were real 'keepers' due to a number of fickle factors: bad lighting, bad focus, or more likely, bad-photographer-due-to-good-drinks-phenomenon...sorry. The photos below are ones I am pleased with for one reason or another.

Normally, I prefer available light photography. Alas, the onboard flash was required at this type of event and I apologize in advance if this proves to be unflattering in some situations, but I don't think so. I usually tag my photos with the ubiquitous ''; it's just what I do. Like it or lump it. Anyway, I can't wait to enjoy seeing the rest of your photos that are likely to surface in the very near future. If you don't want to see your face on this page, email me and let me know. Thanks for visiting! Here is another great site for viewing photos of the event.

Kevin, Michael, Mark

Linda, Willem

Frank, Olympus

Marcello, Harry, James

Andew, Linda

Sharon, Christina

Linda, Sharon

Sharon, Dina (on cell), Donna, Laura, Sandra (Mr. DJ in back)

Michael, Jonathan



Marc, Kelly (Bev and Carolyn in rear)....sorry - I really liked meeting you!

Monique, Kevin (No, he's not 'Photoshopped' in.)

Donald, Tammy

Linda, Richard, Troy

Boris, Troy, John (Me), Treisa, Linda, Carl. (Now, that's a mixed bunch, eh?)

Monique, Richard, Paul, Sandra


Thursday, June 23, 2005

Quill and Quire

Awhile back I mentioned that there were some similarities between editor Patrick Crean and author Paul Quarrington. On the last page in July's edition of Quill & Quire there is actually a picture of them together!

Speaking of Quill & Quire, I have submitted several photos of author events that have taken place here in Ottawa.

Hopefully, they will pick them up and publish them come the August issue. It would be nice to show that Ottawa not only has some great authors but also great literary events. The folks at the Ottawa International Writersfest, Collected Works, Mother Tongue Books, Library & Archives, Nicholas Hoare Books, Small Press Action Network in Ottawa (SPAN-O), Tree Reading Series, Plan 99 at the Manx Pub,, Dusty Owl Reading Series, and so on, all contribute to a lively literary culture here in Canada's capital. It would be nice to see more people attend and enjoy these events - many are free!

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Ottawa Small Press Bookfair

Okay, it might be a tad late for most who read this now, but as of this posting, you have exactly 2 minutes to get down to the Jack Purcell Communitiy Centre to get your Ottawa lit fix. My take this afternoon? A handful of jwcurry publications; several broadsheets from Tree Reading Series (from Jennifer Mulligan); a mitful of Stuart Ross's books; a envelope-ful? of rob mclennan's stuff; and a couple of left-handed copies of this publication called Moist, from Amanda & Charles Earl's Bywords table. I don't know what it's about, but the picture are nice. Also picked up for listening pleasure Word Life: Tales of the Underground Griots, a compilation executive produced by Anthony Bansfield. It's going to be hard to switch out the other CD, Tales of the North Coast, currently in very heavy rotation in my car. "It's a fine time to be alive."

One of the jwcurry works I picked up was a little film cannister. The lable reads, "seventeen blossoms blowing in a western wind without origin". If you have ever purchased anything from John you will know that he keeps track of what it was you bought. You know, the item, the number of the edition, and so on. So he wanted to know what edition this was. This is a collection of Haiku by various artists. My ham-fisted fingers took me close to one hour (not all at once) to pull apart ten (of 17) pieces of very thin eighteen year old paper before I found the colophon page with the title and number: Industrial Sabotoge #40 edited & assembled by jwcurry, may '87. thanks to M.Dudley's letters for the issue's format. cover by Nicholas Power CURVD H&Z 350 #127/185 Now, I have to get back to him with this info.

Here's an unofficial portrait of rob mclennan as he is about to introduce several authors at the 'teaser' reading at Mother Tongue Books on Bank Street, Friday June 17th.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Edward P. Jones wins IMPAC award

DUBLIN, Ireland - American writer Edward P. Jones, who won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction for his first novel, The Known World, received one of Europe's richest literary prizes Wednesday in recognition of the same work.

In a ceremony at Dublin City Hall, Jones collected the annual IMPAC Dublin Literary Award along with a check for $120,000 for his novel, which took him a decade to write.

Norman Levine Passes

John Metcalf quoted in the Ottawa Citizen today, "He is simply the most accomplished short story writer the country has ever produced." Norman Levine, 81, died Tuesday in Northern England of cardiac problems.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Thomas Rendell Curran's Book Launch

Prime Crime Books will be hosting the book launch tonight of local author Thomas Rendell Curran. This is the second Inspector Stride mystery, THE ROSSITER FILE. This popular series is set in St. John's, NFLD, in the late 1940s (pre-Confederation days) and his first novel, UNDERTOW, was short-listed for an Arthur Ellis Award.

5:30-7:30 p.m., in Room A (main floor behind the sunken lobby) of the Library & Archives, 395 Wellington.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Jose Saramago in Ottawa

Please note that I have hi-res photos available. Contact me for details.
"Mr. Saramago - one of the most acclaimed writers in the world today - read in Portuguese from his novel Blindness, and was interviewed in French by the Governor General on his life as a novelist, his works and his writing techniques.
Founded in 1997, the Ottawa International Writers Festival presents to the public hundreds of critically acclaimed authors, bestsellers and emerging voices.
The evening was presented in association with the Portuguese Embassy and the University of Ottawa." (press)

The stunning Louise Dennys makes her entrance into the Library and Archives auditorium awaiting the José Saramago reading.

Her Excellency the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson accompanies Nobel Prize Winner, José Saramago. Ian E. Wilson, The Librarian and Archivist of Canada, is on left side.

In the lobby with Don McKellar with Niv Fichman. Mr. McKellar read from Saramago's novel, Blindness.

I know, he's out of focus. But I like the sharp suit.

Adrienne Clarkson makes her entrance.

José Saramago speaks in French to the audience and reads from his novel in Portuguese. Unfortunately, the translation receivers that were rented from TelAV Ottawa prior to the reading did not work, leaving many frustrated listeners in the audience.

Don McKellar reads from Saramago's novel, Blindness.

Mr. Saramago congratulates Don McKellar after his reading. Note the rarely witnessed Nobel Prize Secret Handshake. (Hehehe)

Adrienne Clarkson in conversation during break before the on-stage interview.

One of the many, many books signed late Sunday evening by Mr. Saramago.

The last twelve books signed by Mr. Saramago for OIWF's director, Neil Wilson.

Nobel Prize Winner, José Saramago.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

WESTFEST 2005 In Photos

Here are some photos from this weekend's successful WESTFEST in Ottawa. Some highlights: Mayor Bob Chiarelli and grandchild, The Lowbellies, Poets of varying ages, Musicians of various genres including Margo Timmins of the Cowboy Junkies, and more than a few people shots.

Danny Michel at WESTfest

Fun things to do with a bandana while waiting in the rain for a concert to begin.

Ottawa Mayor Bob Chiarelli with granddaughter, Lena, at WESTFEST. Lena's dad is guitar player, John Cormier, of the Lowbellies. Mr. Cormier is Bob Chiarelli's son-in-law. Lena's mother, Donna, was entertaining the in-laws under the tent while the Lowbellies played their set. Joining Mr. Chiarelli at the table was Randi Hansen.

Cyril Dabydeen points to an article in the WESTFEST program, Randi Hansen and Bob Chiarelli get set for an afternoon while listening to the Lowbellies (John Cormier on guitar).

Friday, June 10, 2005


Party's in the Boro tonight and tomorrow.

The Vanity Press performing on stage Friday night.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Latest Entries to OED

Got this idea for my post from the h2oboro lib blog who got it from ResourceShelf. Some of the most recent entries in the Oxford English Dictionary are, well, interesting. Waterboro blogger chose different words for their post. Here are the words that particulary struck me for some reason or another:

arsey, a.
ankle-biter, n.
Borgesian, a.
buttlegger, n.
dickwad, n.
dipshit, n. and a.
foo fighter, n.
ka-ching, v.
wussy, n. and a.

You would think that with the abovementioned words, sha-wing is just around the corner for inclusion. Think so? Let me know your favourite (favorite for my dear American friends) words that are currently in the dictionary -- or you think that should be in there. If this dictionary purports to represent the Queen's English, do you think she will use these 'new' words in her next throne speech? What the hell's a buttlegger?!

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Portugal Nobel laureate Saramago in Ottawa This Weekend

LISBON (AFP) - Portuguese author Jose Saramago, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1998, will launch his next novel simultaneously in six nations in Europe and Latin America in October, his publisher said.

The 82-year-old author's latest work, "The Intermittency of Death", will be released first in Argentina, Brazil, Italy, Spain, Mexico, and Portugal, Portuguese publisher Caminho said.
Saramago, whose novels include "The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis" and "The Cave", has said his new book will have a different style from all those which he has written so far but has refused to give more details.
His last novel, "Lucidity" released in March 2004, tells the tale of a right-wing government's violent reaction to an election in which more than 80 percent of votes cast are blank.
Saramago is the first, and so far only, Portuguese-language author to receive the world's most prized literary award.
He has sold more than 3.5 million copies of his slightly surreal books, which have been published in more than 30 languages.
Born to poor parents in a farming town outside Lisbon in 1922, Saramago was raised in the Portuguese capital where he worked mainly as a journalist until a bloodless coup in 1974 put an end to a repressive right-wing dictatorship which had ruled Portugal for nearly five decades.
His literary career did not take off until the publication in 1982, when Saramago was 60, of "Baltasar and Blimunda", a historical love story set in 17th-century Portugal.

2005 Toronto Book Awards

via City of Toronto website:
The five-member Toronto Book Awards Committee today announced the nominees for the 2005 prize. From the 73 submissions, the committee has selected a diverse list, which includes two novels, a collection of short stories, a memoir and a biography - all set in the city of Toronto. The five finalists, in alphabetical order, are:
- Constance Backhouse and Nancy L. Backhouse for their biography The Heiress vs. The Establishment: Mrs. Campbell's Campaign for Legal Justice (UBC Press)
- David Bezmozgis for his story collection Natasha and Other Stories (HarperCollins Publishers)
- Shaughnessy Bishop-Stall for his memoir Down to This: Squalor and Splendour in a Big-city Shantytown (Random House Canada)
- Don Coles for his novel Doctor Bloom's Story (Alfred A. Knopf Canada)
- Russell Smith for his novel Muriella Pent (Doubleday Canada)

My pick? Well, I only have three of the books....hmm, tough one. But I'd give it the old guy, Don Coles. This is certainly one creatively written novel and I like the style in which he wrote it. I do like Bezmozgis' and Smith's books, too. Besides, Bezmozgis just accepted the top fiction prize at the Canadian Jewish Book Awards. In any event, all are winners in the end.

September 2005 Update:
This year's Toronto Book Award winner is Natasha and Other Stories by David Bezmozgis (HarperCollins Canada).

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Terry Fox Promotion

It's nice to see that my picture of Terry Fox's statue in Ottawa was used online at Lung Cancer Review but they did not seek my permission to use it on their website. Tsk! Tsk! However, they did credit me and my weblog. Thanks!

The reason I mention this in my post today is that I am senstive to the fact of using Terry's name for promotional and commercial purposes. However, the Lung Cancer Review appears to be a reputable source of current online information about cancer. From the Terry Fox Run website (PDF file), their policies and guidelines are very specific on the use of Terry's name and image:

No merchandise bearing Terry’s name or likeness other
than that approved and produced by The Terry Fox
Foundation can be used. Revenues derived from the
sale of all Terry Fox merchandise must be handed over
in full to The Terry Fox Foundation.

The Fox family has sole jurisdiction over the use of
Terry’s name and likeness. Any request for use of that
name for a ceremony, building, honour, etc., must be
made in writing in advance to the Fox family.

Terry’s sole purpose for embarking on his Marathon of
Hope was to eradicate the suffering caused by cancer.
For this reason, The Terry Fox Run and all other events
that bear Terry’s name cannot be conjoined with any
other cause, no matter how worthy.

Books to Watch

Books to Watch? Rather it would seem that this statement is a paradox to an outsider of the book biz. To a layman, it would seem that Books to Read would be a more appropriate tag line. A better, less sophisticated, statement would actually be Books to Buy, damnit!

It seems that the new (really old) buzz word is buzz. BookExpo America (BEA) is one of the premier global showcases where buzz counts for a great deal in bookselling. And it's great to see that yet another Newfoundland writer is getting some well-placed attention: Kenneth J. Harvey specifically. We've known about him for years here in Canada and he gets a nod yesterday in the NY Times via Publishers Weekly. However, it's important to note that his novel mentioned in the article actually came out in 2003 in Canada, hence my confusion as to why this novel is marked as a 'debut'. One to watch, yes, but debut? The attention that the Times brings is better late than never I suppose:
But booksellers were also looking for the sleepers, the next Lovely Bones. Publishers Weekly, the industry's trade journal, started some pre-show rumors about possible sleepers with an article on "Best Books of B.E.A.," including "Debuts to Watch." Among the picks: The Town that Forgot How to Breathe by Kenneth J. Harvey (St. Martin's) and Jungle Law by Victoria Vinton (MacAdam/Cage).

Monday, June 06, 2005

Irises At Sunset

The thing I like about irises is that they are so ephemeral. In a few hours these flowers will have shrivelled up and fall away, just to be replaced by another set of blooms.

Grumpy Old Bookman on Ginny Good

Good on you, Gerard Jones. It's about time.

Alan Rickman in the news

Ardent fan, Michelle Blagden, sent me an email asking for permission to post my photo of British actor, Alan Rickman, on her fan and news site. How could I say no? Here is her news report:
Rickman fans, in my acute and limited experience, are some of the nicest people I have ever encountered! I wonder if Mr. Rickman knows this?

Sunday, June 05, 2005

sunday reading

I went to the John Geddes launch of his novel (novella?) The Sundog Season. It possibly could be called a novella given its slight 146 pages. However, it has been given some very good praise today in the Citizen, and also on its back cover. I hate to draw attention to comments given as boilerplate-type marketing blurbs on any cover but Dave Bidini's is, I feel, a little over-the-top: "Geddes's prose is aching and real and his book deserves a to other coming-of-age classics like Who Has Seen the Wind and A Complicated Kindness. The first chapter had me bawling my eyes out."

"Classics?" "Bawling my eyes out?" Okay... easy there, Dave-o.

Well, it's not Goethe's Wilhelm Meister’s Apprenticeship, nor Dickens' Great Expectations. Ahem - these novels, I believe, would be appropriately called classics of the bildungsroman /coming-of-age genre. Yet, the scope of Geddes's novel is not as taxing as either.
Of course, I listened to John Geddes read. People laughed at the right spots, and as soon as I got home, I read and re-read chapter one preparing to 'bawl my eyes out'. Maybe I was just too psyched. Nary a chin quiver. It was charming, yes. Moving to the point of tears, no. However, it is written so simply that I do want to read on.

I agree with the reviewer in today's paper, Gedde's first sentence is one of the best I have ever come across: "When I was five years old I wished for the death of another boy, prayed for it, and it happened." How does one not want to read on? Wow, what an opener. The launch today at Collected Works Books was a very nice affair as usual. Again, what a day for a reading. It was sunny and hot! A special treat after the reading was a huge basket of cookies from isobel & company. They had baked cookies with the image of the book cover incorporated on the white icing. Nicely done promo item! I grabbed two. I must take a photo of them before I eat'em up.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

saturday notes and pics

Awesome start to the day today. I went to Charles de Lint's book and yard sale early this morning. What spectacular weather! He and his wife had tons of stuff for sale. I was interested only in the books, of which there were boxes and boxes. They lined the entire driveway as did the people picking through them. Most books, of course, were science fiction and fantasy. I took home four books for a paltry $25.

What a deal! Three books by Thomas Harris: Black Sunday (1975) BCE, though; Red Dragon, 1st ed., but price clipped; and Harris' most famous novel to date, The Silence of the Lambs, 1st US ed. 1st printing. Sweet! This novel came with a letter from Judy Brunsek, Publicity Director of M&S Publishers, addressed to Mr. Burt Heward of the Ottawa Citizen stating that, "We anticipate that this book will be a certain bestseller. Enlosed is an advance review copy of the book. It's scheduled publication date is September 3 [1988]." Wouldn't it be wonderful if they were signed? Needless to say I was excited to get the books for what I paid. I also picked up the first ed. of John Irving's A Widow for One Year.

I eventually picked up Jules up from her hair appointment downtown and we went straight to the open house at the new CBC complex. Today was the official grand opening. We waited nearly an hour in line just to get the 15 minute tour. But it was well worth it. I have never seen so many TVs in one place, outside of a department store. The highlight, to be sure, was that I got to meet the amazingly beautiful Shelagh Rogers. She is an absolute sweetheart of a woman. *gush* Also got to meet the eloquently funny, Rob Clipperton, too. After the tour, we caught some live bands on Sparks Street Mall, hosted by CBC's Amanda Putz. Acts included THE JOHN HENRYS, DIANE WHITE, TONY D., and ANDREW VINCENT & THE PIRATES. We also listened to Wayne Rostad, the crooning CBC guy. What a fun afternoon in Ottawa.

Just as a F.Y.I.: Venue:Nicholas Hoare, 45 Front Street East Date:Wednesday, June 8th Time:5:30 P.M. Mike Grandmaison and Shelagh Rogers will be signing copies of their new book, a superb coast-to-coast photographic portrait of Canada.

Here's Amanda Putz, of CBC's Bandwidth / D.N.T.O. having way too much fun on stage in an introductory interview with Andrew Vincent and the Pirates. Amanda's smile is just so infectious.

Wayne Rostad, of On The Road Again, was performing on the opposite stage. The man is truly an icon of CBC radio and TV.
Mr. Rostad is a multi-talented individual. His talents are not limited only to singing, playing guitar, telling jokes and impromptu ditties; he's also an ambidextrous pointer. Click on CBC's O.T.R.A. link above and see him pointing, albeit in a non-definitive way. He's a great guy. If I had only had half of this man's energy I would consider myself very lucky.