"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

Friday, May 23, 2014

Charlie Tallulah by Gerard Beirne

Gerard Beirne's new novel Charlie Tallulah (Oberon Press, 2013) is about a man and a woman on the run. They are in love. Or are they? They're sure of themselves, of what they're doing and where going. Or are they? There's an honesty to the prose, a just-at-your-fingertips anxiety (if that's the right word for it)  that keeps you turning the page. Charlie and Cindy are constantly on the move, doing everything they can to create more distance between themselves and Krotz, a cold and twisted crime boss looking for his money. But they have more on their minds than just Trotz, and therein lies the real story, that of two people trying to find themselves in this screwed-up world. A detour to a reservation ends up feeling like a vision quest. With backstory stitched seamlessly into the mix, Beirne does a nice job of painting the vastness of the land, the isolation of the prairies and that of its characters. The dialogue is polished bare; you've got to pay attention, but there are some beautiful passages, like this one:
--I don't think so. Maggie filled the kettle with water. She tells me she wants to be buried in a tree. Yes. She wants her body to be taken out into the bush and placed high in a tree to be left there for the birds to pick her clean. It is what they did in the old days, she says.
--Is that true?
--I have heard it said. But I don't think she means it. I think it is her way of making atonement.
--For what?
--For being ordinary.
That's my kind of writing.
Beirne is lovely in some places, almost dreamlike; not quite Ondaatje, but then again, who is? The bottom line: Here is a writer you should read. I'm glad I did, and you will be too.   

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Work, work, work...

I've not been blogging much at all over the past few months, which means that I'm writing well. I've just finished another edit of The Moon is Real, with the whole summer ahead. I'm also slugging through a first draft of Dogs in Heat and should hopefully have it ready to shop around by summer/fall 2016. With The Goon, published four years ago, it would be nice to bring out two books in two years. But given the time I take to rewrite, that might be a bit too optimistic. Either way, I'm working well and am happy with my growth these past few years. Hemingway once said something about writing; that it gets difficult when you really learn how to do it. I think what he meant is the rewriting process. I find myself more picky with my work, and that's a good thing. I'm constantly tinkering, reworking, then tinkering again. The end product is the goal, and once it's published there's no changing things. To that end, I try to polish everything down to the last details, shedding as much fat as I can from the story.