"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

Thursday, November 24, 2011


Ottawa's Matthew Firth has been referred to as Canada's Charles Bukowksi--putting some lofty expectations on him every time he sits down to write. With the release of his short story collection Shag Carpet Action (Anvil Press), Firth lives up to the billing. I'm a big Bukowksi fan so I'm always hesitant to ever make that comparison (and I'm sure Firth would also agree that Hank is incomparable). Bukowski has many imitators who try to throw in some over-the-top perversity or crudeness meant only for shock-value. Firth, on the other hand, makes no such attempt--he simply writes what he wants to write, shocking or not. There's no phoniness to his work. Shag Carpet Action sucks you in from the beginning, literally. Tatiana masturbates with a Spider-Man action figure, and her voyeuristic neighbour enjoys it too. Another story takes you inside Firth's own experience getting a vasectomy. "Three Women on the Bus" reads more like a script, in the tune of Hemingway's "Today is Friday". Essentially, Firth's writing implies a universal truth most writers don't have the balls to say: That everybody's shit stinks. And he does it with considerable humour. There are moments in this collection that will have you laughing out loud.

So for those who are too skittish to step into Firth's world, I have just one thing to say: GET OVER YOURSELVES--it's the world we all live in. Firth's stories remind us of the realities of being human; what we think, feel, and do. The writing is easy to read, raw-to-the-bone honest, and refreshingly real. And that's why I highly recommend you forget about your clean-cut CanLit filler and get your knees dirty with something a little more to the floor--Shag Carpet Action.


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Jerrod Edson said...