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canned lit:

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

6:44PM - Review - Crysis: Legion, by Peter Watts


As you might know, I've been serially reviewing the latest Torchwood series, a work that (I presume) is as much the product of Russell T Davies' personal vision as is possible in an inherently collaborative medium.

So it is rather difficult to ignore the irony, that there is more credible social commentary, more humour and more excitement in Peter Watts' 300 page adaptation of a first-person-shooter video game, which (again, I presume) was written strictly for the money, than there has been in the first five hours of Davies' brain-child.

Watts' story, about a an accidental cybernetic soldier's brief campaign on a ruined island of Manhattan a scant 12 years in our future is also fairly rigorous science fiction, as one might expect from the "reformed marine biologist", but probably not from a novel about a super-soldier and his mysterious battle-armour.

If Crysis: Legion is not quite the follow-up to his 2006 hard-SF masterpiece, Blindsight one might have wished for, it's a better book than one has any reason to expect of a media tie-in.

Click here for "Strange bed-fellows". Some spoilers may occur.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

2:19PM - Review: Last Night In Twisted River, by John Irving

I realize that John Irving is an American writer by birth and nationality, but he has lived in Toronto part time for at least a few years and is certainly part of the Canadian literary scene to some extent, so I think the following review fits into this community's mandate. If the mods disagree, please feel free to delete.

A Prayer for John Irving

The ageing writer stared out at the reader with all the intensity of an old athlete in denial. His fierce eyes and tight-lipped smile were islands of fading youth set amid the ragged 'scape of a craggy face topped by a shock of thinning grey hair brushed defiantly backwards, exposing a hairline receding like a melting glacier.

The reader was reminded of the hockey player Guy Lafleur during his last year as a Montreal Canadien, the team he had led to five Stanley Cups in the 1970s. The hockey player had been in slow decline for three years, become precipitous during the 1984-1985 season. The former 50 goal scorer managed a mere two in 19 games before hanging up his skates

There was no obvious reason for the hockey player's inability to score. To the reader, it seemed the hockey player could skate as fast, shoot the puck as hard, as he ever had; if anything, it looked like he skated faster than he once had — but maybe that was an illusion, a mirage, born of the fact that, though the old athlete's competitive spirit was as fierce as ever (or fiercer!), he had to work much harder even to almost accomplish what he had once made look easy.

But writers are not hockey players and analogies are treacherous tools. If some writers burn out early, as if they only had one or two books in them, others produce at a steady, life-long, pace without major ups or downs; still others — a minority, but not not a tiny minority — go out with a bang, leaving a masterpiece as their final legacy. Consider Joseph Heller, consider John le Carré, consider Mordechai Richler, as exemplars of the three types.

And consider John Irving's most recent novel, a long, a meandering and a very dull tome from a writer the reader is now certain ought to have retired once the first signs of auctorial impairment — a tendency to have his character give voice to the writer's political opinions — surfaced in the narrative of his last good book, A Prayer for Owen Meanie. (See A Widow for One Year for an especially egregious example.)

So let us consider Last Night In Twisted River. Full review, some spoilers, at Edifice Rex Online.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

1:47PM - Review: Stargazer, by Von Allan

Looking at the stars in black and white


Once a mainstay of popular culture, truly family-friendly or all-ages entertainment has become a rarity in North American media nowadays (with the notable exception of animated films).

That sort of inclusive work seems particularly rare in what ought to be as all-ages-friendly a medium as animation, its close artistic relative, the humble comic-book. But in North America, for a variety of commercial-historical reasons, "comic" has become almost synonymous with "super-hero", with a small (and happily, a growing) sub-set of "alternative" books addressing a broader audience than teenagers who love fight scenes.

So it was a great pleasure to discover Von Allan's Stargazer, an adventure story meant to entertain anyone "from eight to eighty", in glorious black and white, no less.

Read my review at Edifice Rex Online.

Monday, September 13, 2010

10:52PM - The dumbing of the beast - why The Walrus sucks

The Walrus is a magazine that should matter. It doesn't

Pierre Trudeau replies to his critics
Detail from the iconic photo by Boris Spremo/GetStock.com.

Back in the early days of the new century, I took a leap of nationalist faith and subscribed, sight unseen, to a new Canadian magazine, The Walrus. Deliberately modeled upon Harper's, up to and including its design, the first issue of The Walrus even boasted an essay by Lewis Lapham.

Although the first issue was flawed, I was reasonably impressed by The Walrus' debut and for a time was optimistic it would improve.

But the magazine remained flawed, a victim, I surmised then, of a small and insular and insecure Canadian intelligentsia and of what struck me as a basically content, bourgeois political mind at its helm, unsure where or how to sail the wannabe ship of Canada's public intellectuals.

Still, it was a more interesting read than any other mainstream English-language Canadian magazine of ideas (with the possible exception of Montréal's Maisonneuve) and I re-subscribed once or twice, before letting that lapse in favour of an issue here or there when a cover caught my eye.

It was and remained a magazine I wanted to like, not one I did like, at least not very much.

There's more — much more — at Edifice Rex Online.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

2:19PM - Words Alive Open Mic Poetry Night in Newmarket with Barry Dempster

Join us for an inspiring night of open-mic poetry featuring award-winning poet Barry Dempster as host reading from his latest anthology, Love Outlandish, then take the mic yourself to read aloud your own poetic verse. Words come alive at this midsummer night’s event in historic downtown Newmarket open to amateur poets and lyric lovers of all ages. MC: Edward Fenner, publisher of Existere Journal of Arts and Literature.

Thursday, August 20, 2009 at 7:00 pm admission is FREE

Books/Café and Things
208 Main Street South, Newmarket
(Just north of Fairy Lake in downtown Newmarket)
For directions, call 905-868-9497 or visit this MapQuest link:

For more information, email info@wordsalive.ca or call 905-895-9988

Beverages and snacks available for sale at the café.

Plus, join us for the 3rd Annual Words Alive Literary Festival on September 20, 2009, at Sharon Temple National Historic Site. Visit WordsAlive.ca or call 905-895-9988 for more information.

Words Alive Literary Festival
20 September 2009
416.736.2100 x 40635


Thursday, July 2, 2009

3:24PM - [Word]: Call for Submissions

Poetry is one of the most important forms of literary art that has a strong connection with the culture of many people Canada-wide. Beautiful words woven together perfectly with rhyme and rhythm is something that Canadians have a tendancy to do wonderfully - spawning epic works by the likes of EJ Pratt, Margaret Atwood and Robert Finch.

With that being said, it is my pleasure to announce "[Word]: A Journal of Canadian Poetry" - A new, eighty page, softcover anthology due out in Winter 2009 from Engen Books, a new outlet for interested Canadian poets who are looking for a new place for others to embrace their work. Interested? Look around the site at http://www.journalofcanadianpoetry.com and find out all about "[Word]: A Journal of Canadian Poetry".

- Devin Drover

Friday, June 15, 2007


Hi, my name is Dmitry. My diploma is connected with Canada, actually with Canadian cultural anthropology and the Inuit. But I really want to read Canadian literature. Unfortunately I know only Thompson Seton (novels about animals). What could you advice me to read, something classical or modern, it does not matter, but something very Canadian)

Monday, June 4, 2007


It's Too Late To Say I'm Sorry by Joey Comeau

It's Too Late.. is a new book of short stories by Loose Teeth Press author Joey Comeau. On our website you can read 6 of the stories on the websites of the magazines where they were originally published, plus one new story exclusive to the book.

In July and August we'll be doing a reading tour throughout Canada and the US. Add us to your friends list to stay on top of tour dates.


Monday, April 23, 2007

10:54AM - Everything Is an Afterthought

I recently sold my first book. In conjunction, I've established another LiveJournal to report on the project's progress, occasionally provide links about, and writings by, its subject, Paul Nelson (champion of Leonard Cohen and famous for his Rolling Stone cover story about Warren Zevon's battle with alcoholism), and share snippets of information or parts of interviews that may or may not be covered further in the final product.

The new journal shares the book's working title, Everything Is an Afterthought: The Life and Writings of Paul Nelson. Just follow the link.

Anybody interested in learning more about this brilliant critic, whose own life proved just as mysterious and fascinating as the artists' about whom he wrote, is welcome to join. As well, tracking the process of how a book goes from sale to publication should prove interesting. I'm rather curious about that part myself...

Monday, April 9, 2007

1:56PM - i guess I'm not a failure

i guess i'm not a failure after all.


so, um, in case you forgot, i help run a publishing company called INVISIBLE. well, we just released our spring books (which are exceptionally awesome) and are about to go on tour with some authors to launch that shit. if you like books, radness, or just love/miss me, you need to come to one of the following events:

12 April
6:30 p.m. Babble (123 Ossington Avenue, Toronto)
8:30 p.m. The Sparrow (92 Ossington Avenue, Toronto)

13 April
7 p.m. Toronto Women's Bookstore (73 Harbord St., Toronto)
**After Party, 9 p.m. @ The Grapefruit Moon (968 Bathurst St., Toronto)**

14 April
6 p.m. Co-op Bookstore (2150 Rue Bishop, Mtl.)

i'm taking 15 April off to hang with you MTL friends!!!

17 April
6 p.m. Venus Envy (1598 Barrington St., Halifax)
8 p.m. The Khyber Club (1588 Barrington St., Halifax)

i promise not to hold it against you if you can't make it out. you can always check out our books on line @ www.invisiblepublishing.com, visit yer local bookstore or library.
if you want to know more about how we do you can visit the website or check out recent articles about us in Quill and Quire, The Coast, Atlantic Books Today ... i don't know, some other magazines/papers too.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

4:22PM - http://www.cbc.ca/robberbride/

My all time favourite Margaret Atwood novel is by far, The Robber Bride and they've finally made it into a made-for-TV movie. I knew they would eventually and after years of waiting, it's here. I'm almost sure it's going to suck, but maybe, I'll be pleasantly surprized. Nonetheless, I'll be glued to the television set on Sunday night.

Tuesday, July 4, 2006

5:05PM - Will Write for Food?

What follows verbatim is an e-mail posted to craigslist's "writing gigs" subscription list back on 5 June 2006. Written in response to several writers who had objected to the number of solicitations for writers to write for free (receiving, instead of payment, the glow that comes from having your work published or produced by organizations that advertise via craigslist), it sadly demonstrates how writers in particular, and artists as a whole, are perceived by many of the individuals who employ us.

I am getting a bit fed up with all these belly-aching writers. Of course writing is not profitable! It's an art! Can you imagine if all the painters and collage-makers complained as much as you do about not being rich? ...Listen "writers": you do it cause you love it. If you are looking to pay your rent then be a plumber. None of your favorite writers made a living doing what the world remembers them for, instead they were doctors (chekhov), or postal workers (bukowski), or installing air conditioners (vonnegut) ...writers who complain about not getting paid enough are like firemen who don't feel like people refer to them enough as heroes-- which is to say they are doing it for the wrong reasons. just because you write does not entitle you to literary attention-- it doesn't mean you are talented. i'm beginning to think it doesn't even mean you like writing.

so please, paying gigs and non-paying gigs-- keep 'em coming-- but can we try to keep the self-righteous whining to a minimum??

So the toils of plumbing, doctoring, postal work, and installing air conditioners are worthy of payment -- but not writing? And note how diabolically it's suggested that if you expect to be paid for your artwork, you're "doing it for the wrong reasons." Unfortunate, however, are the examples cited, as Chekhov, Bukowski, and Vonnegut all went on to enjoy lucrative writing careers.

They didn't achieve that status by accepting the wrongheaded notion that they should write for free.

Current mood: lazy

Monday, May 15, 2006

8:30PM - Frustrated and seeking help...

I know this community is supposed to be about Canadian LITERATURE, but I was wondering if anyone had some recommendations for Canadian non-fic. You see, I'm frustrated by the fact that all of those popular non-fic books and all the interesting ones I come across seem to all be about Americans ("Freakonomics", "Overcoming our Racism", "The Average American", etc., etc., etc....). Does anyone know of any great Canadian non-fic?
I have from the library "Beauty Tips from Moosejaw: Travels in Search of Canada" and am excited to start that, but I need more!!
Any and all help appreciated.



Joey Comeau, Loose Teeth Press superstar, is on CBC radio national today. He'll be talking about his books and our trip we had last May where we got robbed by homeless people in New Orleans. Maybe he'll mention doing ecstacy in San Francisco and trying on new sweaters (best feeling ever?) but probably not because his mom will be listening. The show starts at 2 PM in every timezone, so if you miss it you can just wait an hour and listen to it in the next zone. Go to the website and click on a city!

Saturday, April 22, 2006

11:44AM - Canada Reads

Canada Reads’ stock has fallen. For the first time, Canada Reads has an air of an American type reality TV show. What began as stimulating debate, with the first Canada Reads, has devolved to petty bickering. When the rational intellectual world of CBC 1 takes a step – even if it’s a baby crawl – towards Fox News style debate, one can’t help but be concerned, Canadian culture is moving in the wrong direction; the election of George Bush clown – I mean, clone - Stephen Harper proves this.

Wednesday, April 5, 2006

9:22PM - Leonard Cohen's The Future

Nice community you've got here. I just posted a review of Leonard Cohen's The Future over at my blog Mere Words. Your comments are welcome. Enjoy.

Sunday, March 19, 2006


Read articles / interviews with Joey Comeau:

         Junk Magazine - couple months old.
         Xtra! Magazine - came out on Thursday the 16th.
         No Media Kings - Just came out yesterday!

Also, visit Animals Have Problems Too, see how awesome it is and then hit up our site and pre-order Legitimate Art by Zach Vande Zande.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

1:34PM - sort of an ad ... i guess

maybe you don't know, but i help run a little, indy publishing biz. anyways, my partner and i recently decided to up our profile and extend our deadline for submissions. the idea is that we'll be able to be less exclusive and get shit from a more diverse group of writers. if you want to know what we're about, you can check out our site http://www.invisiblepublishing.com. if you know somebody who's a writer, zinester or whatever, and you think maybe we should be in touch, don't be shy about pointing them our way.

Sunday, March 5, 2006


Seeking manuscripts

Hi. Long story short. Canada Council has grants for emerging publishers, but you have to have atleast 4 books in print to qualify. We have one in print with a second out in May. Deadline for grant applications is November. We need to publish 2 books in that time. You have to be a Canadian citizen and your manuscript must be 48 pages long in print, which means oh, about 10,000 words? Depends on the finish size, of course.

So. We're most interested (right now) in publishing short story collections and novellas. Not interested in poetry at the moment because we don't have a qualified editor for it. Please send manuscripts, in Word or PDF to msl @ looseteeth.ca


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