"Edson’s vivid portrayal of the urban area, as well as the working class and underclass, creates a vision of Saint John that highlights the discrepancy between the pre-modern idyllic notion of life in Atlantic Canada and the more complicated reality of the region."

-The New Brunswick Literary Encyclopedia

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Amazing Jean Rhys

I have just started reading Lilian Pizzichini's The Blue Hour - A Life of Jean Rhys. So far so good...Rhys was no doubt one of the most talented and overlooked writers of the 20th Century. She was years ahead of her time and is one of my favourite writers.

UPDATE: I finished it--a great book if you're interested in Jean Rhys. It reads like a novel--as though the author knows her subject so well she has invented the character--unlike any biography I've ever read.

Friday, December 24, 2010

KILLER ON THE ROAD in today's Telegraph-Journal

Merry Christmas!

Here's a short story I wrote a few years back, published in today's Telegraph-Journal...

Killer on the Road

by Jerrod Edson

Leonard Simmons had never picked up a hitchhiker before. But it was five o’clock on Christmas Eve and the snow was falling heavily and all he could see through the windshield was white, wherever he looked, and he felt bad for the figure standing by the highway alone. He pulled onto the shoulder and stopped the car. The man opened the door and got in.

He was huge, and he smelled of lumber and wet wool. He had to slump so his head wouldn’t hit the roof, his knees pressed against the glove box. He brushed the snow from off his pants and kicked his boots together. The snow fell in clumps.

Leonard could smell cigarette smoke, and mixed with the lumber and wet wool, it was not pleasant in the heat and small space of the car. “Still snowing,” he said. “I don't think it's ever going to stop.”

The man did not respond, and very quickly there was an awkward silence. The man grunted and brushed the snow from his sleeves.

Bags and gift-wrapped boxes were piled clumsily in the back seat. Leonard had been Christmas shopping all afternoon. He had started and finished his entire list that day and was proud of himself, even now, as he pulled the car back onto the highway, the tires skidding before settling into the tracks of another car.

Leonard’s wife Connie had mentioned an African gift shop downtown on Prince William Street, and how she had seen two wooden elephants, “…the most beautifully crafted things you’ve ever seen—painted white with gold tusks, all carved from the same tree. And the proceeds go to the effort against poaching. Do you know how many elephants are killed each year? The poor creatures, they’re nothing but harmless giants. You’ll be helping them without even knowing it.” It was the one gift in which Leonard knew he couldn’t go wrong.

The snow was just starting to fall when he had left the mall and headed downtown. He parked on Water Street then skidded up the alleyway, careful not to slip in the snow, and onto Prince William to the African Gift Shop.

Twenty minutes later he was pleased with himself as he walked back to the car holding the box of wooden elephants, wrapped in fine paper with a card made of wood which had a lovely little African poem Leonard never bothered to read. He smiled as he imagined Connie on Christmas morning. And I’m helping them, the harmless giants, he thought, repeating her words and chuckling to himself, remembering how she had said this with such saddened eyes, when he knew, as wonderful and as lovely as she was, that all she really wanted was a good gift.

The snow fell in thick heavy flakes. Roy walked by the Bourbon Quarter and looked inside, at how cozy it looked, and he went in for a beer. He sat at the bar next to two men. They were talking and drinking as though they’d been there all day—comfortably and loud and without restraint.

One of them was talking about how he had hitchhiked from Fredericton that morning. And he was very loud. “Only took me an hour and a half. Got dropped off in Gagetown. It was just startin to snow and I thought I’d be stuck out there all day freezin my arse off, but the next car stopped and drove me all the way to Harbour Station. I said to myself when he dropped me off, I said: Andy, you’re a lucky bugger—Not too bad, an hour and a half all the way from Fredericton.”

Leonard was thinking of this a half hour later as he came upon the figure standing on the side of the highway, his silhouette appearing out of nowhere, standing tall with his arm out, his feet buried in the snow.

“Where is it you're heading?” Leonard asked as he drove.

The man grunted and nodded. “Up a ways—Hampton area.”

Leonard was also going to Hampton, and very quickly the regret of stopping overwhelmed him. And so he lied. “I've got to turn off at the Hammond River Bridge. I’ll let you off there.”

The man grunted again. Leonard could not tell if it was meant to show displeasure or complacency. But he felt relieved now that a plan was in place. And again there was an awkward silence. The radio went fuzzy and Leonard fiddled with it. The storm, he thought. This could only happen to me. Then he started to sweat. He turned down the heat and remembered that only a few minutes ago he was alone and happy, thinking of the gifts in the backseat and tomorrow was Christmas and why the hell did he ruin it all by stopping? He took a quick glance in the mirror and saw the box with the wooden elephants.

“So where are you from?” Leonard asked. It was a good question.

“Habs fan, I suppose?”

A grunt.

“Did you hitchhike all the way from there?”


Leonard cleared his throat. “I can't see too much with all this snow. I barely even saw you. When I went to town this morning there was nothing at all, not a flake. I was at the mall for a few hours and came back out to this. I can't believe how much has come down. I can't see a thing.” He did not want the silence to come again and so he continued. “They only called for a few flurries, and look at it. Damned weatherman; I'm telling you, I don't know how those guys keep their jobs. If I made as many mistakes as they did I'd get fired in a second. They don't know a thing.” He realized he was talking too much now, and he swirled in the silence. “No sir, not a thing.”

Silent Night played. Leonard almost grinned at the irony. “So you're spending Christmas in Hampton?”


“Staying with friends or family?”


“Oh, well, it is nice to get away.” He didn’t know why he had said this.

The man grunted again.

Leonard turned up the radio and the music was scratchy and irritating. And although he knew the radio could do nothing, no matter how loud, it covered the silence. After a few commercials from companies wishing everyone well during the holiday season, Holy Night was played and Leonard hummed along, losing himself in the snow and trying to focus on the road, trying to forget this huge man, a man he knew nothing about, sitting so close to him and not speaking.

Then he noticed the man starting to shift uneasily in his seat. What’s he thinking? What’s he planning? The man looked out his window and Leonard took a quick glimpse of him—his old pants, his work boots, his jacket rough and worn. He’s a frickin giant, Leonard thought. Then he started thinking of all the stories he'd heard about hitchhikers; of cars found abandoned and the drivers dead in the trunk or buried in the woods along some dirt road. It starts out just like this, he thought. Just like this, out on the road in a storm, alone.

He thought of the flashlight under the seat. He could grab it if anything happened. It was a big, heavy-duty flashlight that could do some damage if he were able to get a good swing at him. But he did not want to have to grab it. He had never been in a struggle before. His palms got sweaty. He felt a line of sweat trickle down the middle of his back. He did not turn down the heat—he had done this once already.

Leonard saw as the man took another uneasy look out his window.

Then suddenly, through all the whiteness, Leonard saw the lights of the gas station near the Hammond River Bridge. It was an angelic sight.

“The bridge is right up here,” he said. He turned down the radio. “The bridge is up here,” he said again. “I'm turning right before it and I'll let you off then.”

Leonard signaled and turned off the highway, stopping in front of a small church that looked down onto the river. It was an old black and white church built close to the road, and through all the snow Leonard could only see the steep slant of the roof and the blurred outline of the long narrow windows. He could not see the bridge.

Leonard placed his hand down between the door and the seat and felt the cold plastic of the flashlight.

The man grunted and zipped up the front of his jacket and tucked his chin into the collar. Then he opened the door and climbed out. The wind and snow blew into the car, and Leonard felt the chill of the fresh air blowing in, and the suction of the stale air leaving.

Before closing the door the man leaned in. “Thanks for the lift. Merry Christmas.”

“Same to you,” Leonard said, but the door closed before he said it.

The flakes settled on the windshield and melted. Leonard pulled the car away and smiled. He was alone again. But only a moment passed before he realized what he had just done. He thought of the man standing out on the highway with the snow blowing in his face. His eyes caught the gifts in the backseat and he thought of Connie again, at home, warm in front of the fireplace, opening the box with the wooden elephants.

The harmless giants.

Leonard stopped the car and got out and walked a few meters down the road. The snow fell all around him. He couldn’t see the church, but he saw the blurred outline of the steeple. He called out but there was no reply, just the snow falling and a fairy-tale quiet. The snow smoothened over the ditch and covered the trees. The branches drooped from the weight of snow, and underneath them were bare patches of black earth. Up the power lines the boxes were puffy white, the lines thick and running smooth across the whiteness. Leonard called out again, but again there was no reply. He stood a few more seconds, looking into the whiteness, the flakes tickling his eyes, and then he turned and went back to his car, retracing his steps, deep in the snow on the road.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Running With the Bulls

A friend of mine (and fellow Hemingway geek) suggested I read Valorie Hemingway's Running With the Bulls, and so I did. When she was a teenager, Valorie met Hemingway in Spain to interview him. Little did she know she would spend the next two years with him (which were the last two years of Hemingway's life). She traveled thoughout Spain, then moved to Cuba where she lived at the Finca Vigia and worked as his assistant. She met Fidel Castro when Ernest presented the young leader with the trophy for winning the Hemingway fishing tournament. With glimpses into the famed author's life rarely seen before, this book sheds some new and interesting light on one of the greatest writers to ever live.

And if that isn't enough, Valorie married Hemingway's son Gregory, who, it turns out, was more unstable than his suicidal father, having undergone a sex change by the end of their marriage, and treating his wife to some brutally cruel episodes.

Valorie Hemingway is an excellent writer. This book was clearly written by a skilled hand, and I could not put it down. For anyone wanting a different, more personal take on the final chapters of Hemingway's life, read this book.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Goon Launch, Nov 27, 2010

I launched The Goon at the Bourbon Quarter Restaurant & Bar in Saint John. It was a snowy Saturday afternoon and it was fun seeing some old friends. I read a few passages then mingled and signed some books. The photo above is me with my daughter Hadley. She was baby talking through the entire reading.
I was also lucky enough to bump into another NB writer, Wayne Curtis, who was doing a book signing at Indigo. I've heard of Wayne's writing for a long time and it was nice to meet him in person. We chatted about writing, Oberon Press, and David Adams Richards (Curtis is a fellow Miramichi writer and knows Richards well). He's a great guy and a great writer.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

THE GOON reviewed in the Telegraph-Journal

The Goon by Jerrod Edson, Oberon, 160 pages

With The Goon, Saint John-born Jerrod Edson moves from being one of the province's top young writers to being one of the best New Brunswick writers, period. The Goon is a dark yet humorous story about living with the ghosts of the past. In Jack Jones, a former NHL enforcer, Edson embodies his hometown - tough, rough, haunted, full of equal parts unfulfilled ambition and heart. Jones feels so real you'll have to remind yourself it's fiction. As one of the most-anticipated local novels of 2010, The Goon can now be safely considered the best New Brunswick novel of 2010.


Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Return of Harry Cossaboom

I first published The Making of Harry Cossaboom in 2000 with DreamCatcher Publishing in Saint John. The book never really sat well with me; I felt I could have done a better job writing it.

It has always been one of those things I wished I had a chance to re-write because it's a great storyline.

Today, DreamCatcher granted me permission to re-write it. I still have to sign a contract to release the rights to me, but I really appreciate DreamCatcher allowing me this right.

It is my hope that if/when the new novel is published (hopefully with Oberon Press), it will satisfy my own own goal with the story, as well as generate some new sales of the original for DreamCatcher.

This is all a few years away as I haven't even begun the re-write and I'm in the middle of a new novel, but now that I've got the green light I'm excited for that opportunity.

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Goon Book Launch

My publisher has informed me that copies of THE GOON will arrive at my house at some point today...am excited to finally get my hands on a copy.

I will be launching THE GOON at the Bourbon Quarter Restaurant & Bar in Saint John, NB on Saturday, November 27...It will be a nice little affair, very informal; I'll say a few words and read a few passages then chat with everyone who comes.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

The Goon in Salon Magazine's Fall Books Guide, September 4, 2010

by Mike Landry


Jerrod Edson may have said good bye to Saint John a dozen years ago, but he's never really left the Port City.

All of Edson's soon-to-be-four novels, published over the past decade, have taken place in his hometown. Recurring characters pop up from novel to novel. Edson has created his own idea of what the city is.

Starting with his first novel, The Making of Harry Cossaboom (2000), it was important for Edson to write about a real city with real places -- including his former employer, Chizzlers Restaurant.

In his latest book, The Goon, which is being published by Ottawa's Oberon Press in October, Edson even started encorporating real Saint Johners into his memories and imagined characters. Everyone he uses in the book has been notified and is content to receive a couple complimentary copies for their participation.

When he visited home to take pictures as research this past summer, his first return in five years, Edson noted to his wife that he could picture his characters walking around about him.

"The fictional characters are as real to me as a real person walking around Saint John," Edson says, by phone from his home in Mississauga. "It might not be accurate, but it works.

"You have to have that kind of belief in your characters. How's the reader going to believe in your characters if you don't?"

Edson goes so far to reinforce the legitimacy of his characters in The Goon that he even includes fictional career hockey stats for his protagonist, former NHL muscle and local senior hockey bruiser Jack Jones.

Jones, who now divides his time between working the Harbour Bridge tolls, regaling his fellow drunks at the Three Mile and caring for his aging cat, was part of the 1992 Allan Cup-winning Saint John Vito's squad. Although the places and events are real, Jones isn't.

Michael Ondaatje's In the Skin of a Lion, which fictionalized the lives of the immigrants who helped build Toronto, inspired Edson to slot a fictional character into a real-life event. Edson's novel-in-progress uses the narrative device even more, returning to characters he introduced in his second novel, The Dirty Milkman (Oberon, 2005).

"It's been five years since that book came out, so it's kind of fun because I'm trying to get caught up with what they've been up to."

It's fitting that Edson would choose The Goon to embrace mixing reality and fiction. The story is about two men in denial of reality. Jones lives stuck in the glory days of his past, while his homosexual neighbour continues to mourn years after the death of his partner. The pair come together to help each other down the path of redemption.

Jones and Roy were meant to be an odd couple, but Edson also wanted to play around with stereotypes. If there is a stereotype about a gay man or ignorant womanizer you can think of, Edson wanted to prove the opposite.

"That's what I like about Jack--he's such a good guy despite everything that's on the outside of him. Having Roy I tried to make the exact opposite. I didn't want to put in anything that you would assume Jack would be like towards a homosexual."

Jones also marks the return of what's becoming Edson's trademark fondness for the disappointing drunk. A big Charles Bukowski fan, Edson explains, "They're just fun characters to write. I seem to get stuck with them."

Although Edson prefers watching English football now, he was able to draw on his love of hockey in The Goon. An avid hockey card collector as a kid, Edson made it to AAA but "was way too small." When the characters watch hockey at the Lord Beaverbrook Rink, Edson writes in broken, staccato paragraphs, switching perspectives around the rink. It reads like a sportscaster, and for good reason. Edson has a post graduate certificate in sports journalism from Sheridan College and worked for one week at TSN before quitting.

Edson's real life connections and skewing of stereotypes reinforces his use of Saint John as a living character in his work. Still, he knows people who aren't familiar with the city could have a darker opinion of the place if all they did was read his books.

"I write about the taverns. If I write about downtown it's some guy hammered at three in the morning, not when it's the middle of a Sunday afternoon and the sun is out. I don't paint that picture.

"I don't mean not to. I don't want to make Saint John look like something that it isn't in a negative sense, but the people I'm writing about are the lower ends that could be found in any city. I just happen to be from Saint John."

Edson says he feels a responsibility to not make the city look bad--"It's the best city on the planet to me. It really is. It's my home"--but he also has to write the characters he wants to regardless if they paint a bad picture of Saint John.

Besides, in Edson's head you can meet Jack Jones every time you cross the bridge or grab an Alpine at the Three Mile. S

Mike Landry is arts and culture editor at the Telegraph-Journal. He can be reached at landry.michael@telegraphjournal.com.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

There is nothing like the roar of the crowd in the home building. It does not matter if it is 20,000 in Toronto or 2,000 in Saint John; it is always monumental.

-From The Goon

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Cover for THE GOON

Oberon sent me the cover of The Goon. Back in 2007 I was talking to another author at the Eden Mills Writers Festival and she said Oberon covers have a distinctive look--that you can always tell an Oberon book right away, and this cover follows in that tradition. I think it looks pretty cool.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Van Gogh in Ottawa

These are the three Vincent van Gogh works in the National Gallery's permanent collection. The first one (from left to right), Iris, was painted in 1889 while he was in the asylum at Saint-Remy-de-Provence. The second, Bowl with Zinnias and Other Flowers, was painted in 1886 and is one of Van Gogh's early works while living in Paris. The third, Vase with Zinnias and Geraniums, was painted either a few days before or after. These last two are important works as they marked the beginning of van Gogh's use of vibrant colours (greatly influenced by the Impressionists), leading to some of the world's best-known works of art, Sunflowers, Starry Night, etc.

Van Gogh's use of vibrant colour is the basis for the new novel I'm working on, Dogs in Heat--still a good three or four years away from being finished...

Monday, August 16, 2010


I recently bought this novel and read all 983 pages in a week. This is one of the greatest books I've ever read and I can't even begin to describe how good it is. Many people over the years have told me to read it but I didn't want to until I was ready to take on such a big book (I like shorter novels). As soon as I started I couldn't put it down.

I've always read more "literary" novels, and THE PILLARS OF THE EARTH has shown me that I've been missing out; that I've forgotten how fun it is to read. Spanning roughly fifty years in 12th Century England, the novel is about the construction of a Gothic Cathedral and the political / emotional / social implications of the lives of those involved. There are civil wars, raids, bloody battles, corruption, evil bishops and earls, brave and noble knights, religious brutalities, famine, love, sex, death and murder--all the goodies of life.

I was totally and utterly absorbed in this novel and I feel as though I've lived in the Middle Ages alongside these characters for their entire lives. Sometimes they would look back on their lives and I knew their memories as though they were my own, and I was sad to see these people growing old.

Ken Follett is brilliant. As a writer, this reading experience has opened my eyes to the art of storytelling, and I'm going to read more of Ken Follett to help me learn how to tell a better story.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Saint John, NB

I was back home in NB in July and took some pictures of Saint John. These were places I've either written about or am writing about now. To me, there really is no better city on the planet.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


My fourth novel, The Goon, has been accepted by Oberon Press.

No publication date is set, but it will most likely be late October 2010.

It's great news for me as I'm very excited to have another kick at the can with Oberon Press. It's also a relief as I've been working on this novel for about three years and I can now focus on Dogs in Heat...

Friday, January 1, 2010

The Temptation of St. Anthony

I was in Ottawa over the holidays and went to the National Gallery. I used to go there all the time when I was in school and now I only get to go whenever I'm in town.

This is one of my favourites in the permanent collection; Hieronymus Bosch's "The Temptation of St. Anthony" (painted around 1490). It's a tiny little painting that's hard to find if you don't know exactly where it is in the gallery. Luckily for me it has kept the same spot on the wall since 1999.