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May 1, 2017
Wrapped up my teaching until September. For the first summer in a while, I won’t be teaching the online course. Seems like a lot of free time, so I’ll see what I can manage to do with it. (Quite a nice challenge! Already re-caulked the shower with a new silicone seal. Good-bye mould.) My real hope/plan is to try to get a few stories finished this summer. Daniel’s got his job, starting July 4 and finishing August 25, so the time is there. Wish me luck.
That new Fibe Bundle I spoke of last entry… It’s got On Demand as a feature. You can rent a fairly recent movie for $5.99. Over the past few weeks, we’ve seen 3 fine films – all, interestingly, biopics: Hidden Figures, The Founder and Lion. Recommend them all highly (check the links). Currently reading a biography of editor Maxwell Perkins (Hemingway, Fitzgerald’s editor, among other luminaries) – Max Perkins: Editor of Genius, by A. Scott Berg. Picked up a remaindered copy at the local BMV Book Store for a mere 5 bucks. I understand there was a film made of it last year, titled simply Genius. I’ll see if my new Fibe Bundle can scout it up too.
Daniel’s big trip to the World Championship in Robotics with his school team took place April 18-23. They traveled to Louisville, Kentucky. He had a great time. Said it was an eye-opener in lots of ways. I’ll bet it was.
And Ancestry.com caught my attention with the offer of a DNA search into one’s past for one’s ethnic forebears and the percentage of each. The kit costs $79. I’ve ordered 2 of them – one for myself and one for Merle. Likely won’t have the results until summer’s end, but I’ll keep you posted. Should be interesting!
Jays are in New York tonight. They’ve had an awful start to the year. I have the blind faith of the Fan, though. I’ll be watching at 7 PM.
Car’s in the shop getting the snow tires off.
More faith -- of the Canadian sort. They just called. Get my VISA
card ready to pony up.
March 3, 2017
Turned 70 back in early February. A bit of a shock to the system. That’s a number I can’t process, in relation to myself. Wrote a story (short… About 2500 words) based on something that happened this winter that felt like a bit of a metaphor for this watershed number. I’ll let you know if/when I place it somewhere. Just started looking.
Reading Thomas Perry books again (read them several years back). There’s a sequence of 3 novels: The Butcher’s Boy, Sleeping Dogs, The Informer – all written a decade or so apart, between 1982 and 2011—that follow a hit-man from his early 20s to his 50s. Read them in order. I recommend them, if you’re in the mood.
When we moved here in 2002 (15 years ago!), I had Bell for my internet/phones and Rogers for cable TV Got my domestic digital world updated. Had the Bell Fibe Bundle installed in the house. Wraps the phones, internet and TVs (all HD now) into one payment, and upgrades everything to 2017 expectations. Daniel (16 years old) was the catalyst to getting it done. He seemed to notice the sad state of affairs, where I didn’t care all that much (part of the difference between 16 and 70).
One of the offshoots of getting involved in this transformation was the realization of how the word Bundle has become a new sales buzzword – a concept that’s been kicking around for a while now, but that I’m just starting to see everywhere – even in my writing world.
About 2 weeks ago, I got asked to include 3 of my novels (Shadow of Ashland, Sailing Time’s Ocean, Barking Dogs, all in E-Book form) into a larger digital download-package containing several other Aurora Award novel finalists, and offer them as a “bundle” in a not-too-distant future.
And I’ve just been told that the novels Barking Dogs and Blue Limbo have been “bundled” with 8 Paul Cook novels, as a downloadable package containing 10 novels (E-Books) by Arc Manor/Phoenix Pick for the month of March, 2017 (http://www.phoenixpick.com/botm/Cook.htm).
I remember a story by Canadian writer, Thomas
Raddall, that I taught (quite a while ago… I’m 70, don’t forget) called
Wedding Gift. It was set around 1800 in rural Nova Scotia, and pivoted
on the concept of “bundling” – which back then was a term which meant lying
in the same bed while fully clothed, for warmth, in a house where the entire
family shared one room with a fireplace. Courtship was tough… The distances
and the winters. Those Maritimers and New Englanders had more sense than
you’d think. Clearly, they laid the bundling groundwork coming in now like
the tide. And apparently, I’ve hopped on.
December 13, 2016
Re-read a novel from long ago and it still holds up as a powerful, fascinating book. It’s Earth Abides, by George R. Stewart (1895-1980) – originally published in 1949 (and never out of print). Stewart was a professor of English at UC Berkeley for over 30 years.
I was impressed enough to Google the author and discovered a whole world
revolving around his books. Ordered a biography about him from Amazon (The
Life and Truth of George R. Stewart, by Donald M. Scott), which
is a wonderful, scholarly tribute. More Googling brought me to the EARTH
ABIDES project web site, hosted by the same biographer, Donald M. Scott.
By this time, I was engaged enough by the book, the author (and Mr. Scott’s
biography and dedication to Stewart and his works) that I wrote a short
letter of supportive endorsement to Don Scott, which is posted here on
the site. (Scroll down to "A
Letter Worthy of Thanksgiving," November 23, 2016 post.)
Ace edition 1962
Del Rey edition 2006
You might enjoy. Suggestion: do yourself a favour and read Earth
October 27, 2016
Blue Jays are gone, beaten handily by Cleveland. (Sigh.) Serious stuff. Have to wait until next spring.
St. Monica’s School (my old grade school) celebrated its 100th anniversary. Held an Open House from 3 to 5 Saturday, October 15. If you’ve read my piece Names (linked below, in September 30 post), it shouldn’t be hard to imagine it having been around for 100 years. Went to visit on the occasion, along with Merle and Michael and his wife, Gina (Michael is the Michael from grade 1, mentioned near the beginning of Names). He remembers almost nothing (fascinating in itself), while I remember lots of bizarre events and people. It was a bit of a buzz for me! (I recommend you read Names).
Bob Dylan won the Nobel Prize for Literature. Very controversial. Feel like I’ll weigh in on this one: I think the decision was inspired.
We’ve perhaps (finally) left the 19th century behind in terms of thinking about poetry. The main place it’s existed for the past generation is in song lyrics, and Dylan has represented this fact as largely as anyone else. Listen to the lyrics from his 1965 Highway 61 Revisited album/CD. Pretty incredible stuff for a guy in his early 30s. He’s now 75. Listen to his 1997 album Time Out of Mind. I think it’s his best, and arguably as good as anything else out there.
When he sings his own stuff, songs he wrote himself,
that’s when he jumps out. I read somewhere that he’s written over 500 songs
– and some of them will be around a long time. My hat’s off to the Nobel
committee who clearly discussed all this, and decided to think outside
the box this time around. Poetry. The 21st century.
September 30, 2016
Been a while. October tomorrow. It’s a head-shaker where the time goes. Summer’s a month in the past and I’m 3 weeks into my teaching at Western. Daniel’s in grade 11 and before I know it I’ll be getting my snow tires put back on.
Will only have a brief post today. Books read to start…
Re-read nearly everything by Henning Mankell (great writer), discovered Aidan McKinty (3 books so far), and picked up a Peter May novel to read while lolling lakeside back in August. Re-read Frank McCourt’s Angela’s Ashes, Frederik Pohl’s Gateway, and others which (clearly) have faded – which in itself is a comment of sorts.
And in the vein inspired perhaps by McCourt (above), have written a very brief bit of what I call autobiographical fiction called Names. It’s been published in the September, 2016 issue of the online literary journal The Danforth Review. I’ll post the link, if interested. I pore over my grade school teachers and the times (the 1950s), trying to make sense of it all. I’m always trying to make sense of the past, what happened, what’s happened to everyone from back then. I think most of us are in this same boat, sailing blindly into the future.
Click here for Names.
And while I’m at it, The Danforth Review (TDR) also published a previous piece of my “autobiographical fiction" back in 2008, which I don’t believe I’ve ever linked up on this site. It was called V-Day (the story I read at The Round Venue in Toronto’s Kensington Market this last February). Click here for V-Day.
It can sometimes be a strange link, as stories published back then in TDR are now archived in Libraries and Archives Canada. If you click on the link, there’s usually a 15 second or so delay while it hunts it up.
Enjoy them both? Maybe?
June 16, 2016
Summer reading update…
Tried a couple of Tom Clancy novels. Gave up. Not my cup of tea. Couldn’t get fully engaged. (Same thing happened the time I tried James Patterson. Couldn’t stay interested in the story, no distinctive voice). Liked the movie American Sniper, so tried Chris Kyle’s book – a big bestseller. Ended up skimming it. Not up to the movie’s standard. Preachy, plodding.
Three older John Clarkson novels: much better summer fare. And finally, I’ve resorted to Elmore Leonard’s novels (once more) to get me through my summertime leisure. Just finished Be Cool and The Hot Kid. He always comes through.
Best book recently, though: The Singer's Gun, by Emily St. John Mandel. (You might recall her name from my Dec 22, 2015 posting.) Complex, well written, engaging, morally ambiguous. A novel to enjoy and admire.
Two years ago, in an earlier post (April 20, 2014, below… Check it out) I made my case for not wanting Change in my life. A futile position, even though a real one. The latest: Western University has changed the system of its mail completely. We’ve migrated (the buzzword) to a new system. The anxiety has been rising, and I’ve been dealing with it. Now it’s happened. The technology won’t sit still, so I gritted my teeth migrated along with the other captive immigrants. The tidal wave of the future doesn’t stop. No rest for the comfortable.
More change: I sold my 1993 Yamaha Virago 535 motorcycle last week, Bought it 16 years ago (see Sept 4, 2000 entry below), enjoyed it, kept it in beautiful shape, rode it locally, for pleasure, on nice days. Why? It was time. Toronto traffic ain’t what it used to be, and my eyes aren’t what they used to be either (cataracts, which will need attention in the near future). Advertised it on the internet -- Kijiji (another first for me) -- and it was a hot item. Sold in a couple of days for virtually what I paid for it 16 years ago. It’s become a minor classic. I think I managed to keep it in one of those time warps I’ve come to appreciate.
May 26, 2016
Long past time I should have checked in and updated. (Thanks, Jacquie, for the reminder.) Every day seems full to the brim, and the few that leave me some down time tend to be seductive and I do very little except relax. And read. I read a lot -- a major pleasure.
Wrapped up my classes at Western back in the early part of April. I'm now into my 3rd week of teaching the online summer course in creative writing for Western -- the 3rd summer I've done so. It runs from May 9 - July 29. August should be good, before I get back in the saddle for September.
I'm also looking after grandson Sully Wednesday mornings, while his mother works. Yesterday was a ripple on the pond, as her car broke down on the way to meet me (I was waiting outside a Play Area downtown, where we'd planned on spending some time). Big adventure... Involved calling the CAA for a tow truck, driving all over to get it taken care of, and get everybody back home. Today: more normal.
Reading (mentioned above)... Picked up John Clarkson's Among Thieves, so went back and read his previous 5 novels (full of mayhem and testosterone... acquired taste). Re-read R. Lance Hill's The Evil that Men Do (first read back in the '80s). It's a good thriller. Re-read 4 older Robert Crais novels -- back near the beginning of his career (started in the late 80s). Fun. Page-turners. Read Mark Greaney's Back Blast... Merle, Daniel and I watched DVDs of Collateral and Bull Durham -- both under-rated movies -- and Merle and I are re-watching Breaking Bad the same way (up to Season 4). It's incredible. Again..
And one nice little writing note... I wrote a small (800 word) piece I titled simply Names, which is a kind of slip back in time to the 1950s and some of my grade school memories. I like it. The Danforth Review (see Feb 19 entry below too) picked it up and will publish it online in September. When it appears, I'll post a link to it on this site.
February 19, 2016
The Reading at The Round Venue 2 nights ago was, frankly, a funky blast. Had a great time! Merle, Daniel, Conor, Jenn – and Emily Perkins (Emily is my nephew Patrick’s daughter, which make her my grand-niece – I think) and her man Mike were there. And my colleague from Western, Kathryn Mockler, showed up – a wonderful surprise. And the crowd was both ample and receptive, having a good time.Touched base with the old circle from the time when I was completely invested in the Toronto writing scene (Edo, Bob Knowlton, Michael Rowe, Sandra Kasturi, et al.).
I read the story V-Day, which was published in the online literary journal The Danforth Review back in 2008. This was its first airing, and the venue was the perfect one for its content, voice and style.
I’d do it again. I guess that’s the ultimate compliment.
On Reading Week from Western, so my reading this week has been both public and private. Recommend 2 more novels: The Dog Stars, by Peter Heller, and Brooklyn, by Colm Toibin – authors I’ve not read before, but whom I’ll pay more attention to in future.
And saw the film Spotlight. Excellent. An experience. It’s nominated for Best Picture at the upcoming Oscars. It just might be the Best.
February winding down. Have to mention that today
is my cousin Jacquie’s birthday. She turned 88. Unbelievable… But wonderful.
I told her she'd become a classic -- like the Olds 88.
January 18, 2016
Christmas… New Year… Come and gone. Again. Daniel got to a Raptors game, Conor, Jenn, Owen, Sully – all were around at one point or another. A fine time indeed.
Christmas Books read:
Saturn Run (John Sanford & Ctein)
The Crossing (Michael Connelly}
Make Me (Lee Child)
The Promise (Robert Crais)
As I said below, though (Dec 22/15), best book was one I stumbled upon: Station Eleven (Emily St. John Mandel).
Better late than never to announce:
Shadow of Ashland will be featured in Amazon's Kindle Monthly Deal throughout the month of January, 2016. The special price applies to all other E-Book dealers as well. (Check iTunes if you're an Apple user.)
And a more timely announcement:
I will be Reading Wednesday, 8 PM, February 17, 2016, at the Round Venue (152A Augusta Avenue, Toronto). All are welcome! It’s a neat looking spot. Should be fun.
My buddy Bill turns 70 tomorrow. Good Lord. We
were in high school together. This is getting serious.
December 22, 2015
Fall classes wrapped up. Great groups! Photos
TMG & 2211F
TMG & 2218F
Reading tip: Station Eleven, by
Emily St. John Mandel. Best book I read this year. Check it out.
November 28, 2015
Almost 3 months since last post. Don't think that's happened before. What can I say? Life's a landslide, time and energy finite, priorities... It's OK. I'm here. All still good.
But where to start?
Here and there... This and that... Just enjoy my rambling.
Last entry mentioned that it was Labour Day. That seems both long ago and only yesterday, like everything else. (Christmas is only a month away!) The terms at Western are 13 weeks long, and this coming week is Week 12, so I'm in the home stretch. Two good classes. I've enjoyed myself, and it's wrapping up. Always a sense of melancholy at this point. Part of the experience of teaching, of being involved with students, getting to know them.
Books read or re-read: The Dogs of Riga and The White Lioness (Mankell); Last of the Breed (L'Amour); Dead at Daybreak (Meyer)... Henning Mankell (above author) died back in October, as did Jack Larson, of Jimmy Olson fame in the 1950's TV Superman (my childhood)... Got up to Randy's cottage (along with Chester and John T.) north of Minden for a weekend back in early October... Have fixed (at various times since September) light switch in kitchen, lamp in living room, latch on front screen door, sink drain in main floor bathroom, replaced wiring in dining room pot light, replaced entire dryer vent system and filter (big learning experience)... had repairman to fix washing machine... Finger in the dyke, stemming the flood. Back-and-forth on trains to London twice a week.
Ah, well... It's still all good. And the most memorable sporting event of the Fall (I mentioned the Blue Jays in my September post) was Game 5 between Texas and the Jays, and Bautista's bat-flip. Loved it. Iconic. I smile just thinking about it.
Small publishing update: my novelette, Ashland, Kentucky, originally published in ISAAC ASIMOV's SF MAGAZINE back in 1985 -- and the seed of my 1996 novel Shadow of Ashland -- was reprinted back in 1992 in Don Hutchison's Northern Frights anthology. That anthology has just been reissued as an E-Book by ChiZine, bringing the original novelette back into print via the digital world. It's only a matter of time before everything in print will be out there in the void.
I'll weigh in more regularly.
Ciao for Now...
September 7, 2015
Correction re the information regarding the Reading mentioned in the August 15 post below... It's postponed -- likely until January or so. A meeting was scheduled at Western in London late in the day (Sept 16), so the conflict made it impossible. I'll post new information as it becomes available.
Labour Day! Still hot here in Toronto. The Jays are 20 games over .500... Record for the last 35 games in 28-7. I remember the 1984 Detroit Tigers, who came out of the gate that year with a 30-5 record and nobody caught them. Won the World Series too. (They're mentioned in my novel Shadow of Ashland. Check it out!)
August 15, 2015
Got up to our annual cottage rental near Bancroft (Ontario) in July, visited Jacquie, Jo-Anne, Bob, Tom, Ulla, and just back from a week in Ireland. Merle and I were last there 15 years ago… Research for St. Patrick’s Bed…. Landed in Dublin, rented a car, and flew out of Shannon a week later. Took Daniel (14 years old). A very good family vacation – and his first trip abroad.
Stopped in Mallow, county Cork, the spot from which the Greens emigrated during the famine in 1850, and actually found the street (Bridewell Lane… read Frank McCourt’s Angela’s Ashes...) where my great-grandfather Matthew Green was born in 1840. He was a 10-year-old when they left. Made the trip complete. And I highly recommend the breathtaking vistas on the west coast.
Updating re the eBook reissues of Sailing
Time’s Ocean and The Woman Who is the Midnight Wind…
July 7 publication, available now:
And Open Road set up an interview on SFFWorld to help spread the word. It appeared August 7: http://www.sffworld.com/2015/08/terence-m-green-interview/
In a month I’ll be back teaching at Western, and I’ve agreed to a Reading (set up by Sandra Katsuri’s ChiSeries: (http://chiseries.com/reading-series) on Wednesday, September 16, at the Round Venue (https://www.facebook.com/ROUNDvenue) in Toronto’s Kensington Market area. Looks kinda uber-cool. Clearly, I’ll fit right in. [Oops! See Sept. 7 entry above.]
The Jays won 11 in a row, but the streak ended last night when the Yankees beat ‘em 4-3. I’m still disconsolate. Afternoon game today. I’ll be paying attention. And later today, the annual Green family reunion at Bill and Milvia's. A great buzz.
And hey... This web site's now topped 35,000 visits.
July 2, 2015
Been slacking, and first thing I know it's summer. Yesterday was Canada Day. The Leafs traded Kessel and the Jays whomped the Red Sox 11-2. Don Cherry threw out the opening ball and Bautista, Encarnacion, Donaldson and Smoak (2) all homered. Got some cottage time planned, and have booked some travel.
Now that I've dealt with the important stuff, a brief update re my teaching and writing/publishing. I've agreed to teach 2 courses in the Fall and 2 more in the Winter session at Western -- including the new Fantasy Writing course. And Open Road is releasing both Sailing Time's Ocean and The Woman Who is the Midnight Wind as eBooks next week (July 7), so get ready to Download. (If you're not remarkably young, then like me, you'll remember a time when that word didn't really exist. Who knew?) Check the main page for more... Amazon's got them, along with scores of others (Googling will light the lamp).
Said I'd be brief. Ah, well... more next time.
May 4, 2015
Finished up my Winter term teaching at Western (April 7) and today I started up teaching the online creative writing course for the summer (May 4 - July 24). So I'm back in the saddle. But because there's no travel involved, it's a soft saddle.
Sully turned 1 year old (April 26). He's being dropped off here tomorrow for the day. Hoping for good weather. Maybe we can go to the park. Could be a perfect day. My fantasy: him playing in a sandbox, me reading, drinking coffee. Like I said: a fantasy. We need 'em.
Emma Pulitzer at Open Road Media emailed me the proposed covers for the new release of The Woman Who is the Midnight Wind and Sailing Time's Ocean as eBooks. Click on the pictures below for enlargement.
Babies. Books. New life. I love it. (And it's Spring!}
Two nights ago, Merle, Daniel and I watched the 1999 movie The Insider, with Russell Crowe and Al Pacino, about the fraud perpetrated on the rest of us by Big Tobacco. Hadn't seen it since its initial release, but we wanted Daniel to see it. He found iit riveting, and commented that it should be shown in Health classes in high school. He's right.
A year ago, it was one-of-a-kind Marv who died (June 21/14 below). Two weeks ago it was another one-of-a-kind who left us. Nathan Pila was 67. I wrote the following on his Memorial page, and would like to honour him and his family by posting it here as well:
Nate and I had our
lives intertwined at East York Collegiate, where we taught for a generation,
and became unlikely friends.
For many years we had a ritual where he phoned the night before the school year began each September,
to reflect on what was ahead, and how it had all happened. Philosophy, angst, humour.
I last saw Nate and Lily
-- after a long absence -- at Marv Lichtenfeld's service a year ago. We
spoke warmly, promising to get together.
Again, life got in the way, and it didn't happen. We were stunned then, and I'm stunned now.
One minute you're here, the next you're gone.
Nate and Lily were at
our place down on Brooklyn Avenue for the last episode of Seinfeld.
As a fan, I can date that as 1998.
It'll be one of the many memories I'll keep. Then we drifted into retirement, and drifted apart, our lives filling up with new things, people, routines.
That final Seinfeld... Those Green Day lyrics at its conclusion...
"Time grabs you by
the wrist, directs you where to go
So make the best of this test, and don't ask why
It's something unpredictable, but in the end it's right.
I hope you had the time of your life."
Too soon. Way too soon. You were one of a kind. That smile. That twinkle. So alive.
March 5, 2015
The Audiobooks of the 3 Ashland novels mentioned below (Dec 14/14 entry & Feb 20/15 entry) are completed and posted on the Audible.com web site. Fine news.
(Click the link...Check it out!)
February 20, 2015
My birthday, Owen's birthday, Valentine's Day -- all come and gone. The sands of time. Conor's birthday is up next (March). He'll be 37 (Yikes!).
This past week has been Reading Week at the university, so no travel,. Been idling. Very nice! Read a couple of books (older John Sandford novels), saw a couple of movies (American Sniper, Birdman), and have very much enjoyed the opening 3 episodes of the Breaking Bad prequel Better Call Saul, which premiered these past 2 weeks. Idling. Like I said: very nice.
In the December 14 (2014) entry below, I mentioned being a resource for Jennifer Foster's Writer's-Digest-Book artcle on short story writing. I was contacted again last month and asked to be a resource on next year's edition, in another article. Spent some time getting my thoughts in order on the subject of outlines and writing for her piece. Was also contacted by John Smallwood, who teaches at the Virtual High School (see Jan 18/13 entry below), who was looking for a flash fiction to be used as a sight story for one of their exams. They're using Phil's New Digs, the piece I wrote back in 2008, commissioned by musician Russ Walker for his Autocondo web site. New life for another old story.
The 3 Ashland books have been read by Chris Sorensen (again, see Dec 14/14 entry below), and are headed down the line to Audible.com for mastering and final production. Looking forward to listening to them. Audible.com has also licensed The Woman Who is the Midnight Wind and Sailing Time's Ocean for audiobooks. Very, very neat.
Winter has its grip on us here in Toronto. Simply
put: it's freezing out there. The side door handle snapped off in the cold.
The rear sliding doors won't slide properly. Good friends Michael and Gina
O'Gorman are currently on a vacation cruise from New Zealand through the
South Seas and headed for Tahiti and Moorea. He emailed me and mentioned
that the weather was lovely, that he was wearing shorts and a t-shirt.
Makes me sit back, glassy-eyed. I wonder if they've ever heard of the polar
vortex down there.
January 10, 2015
Christmas, New Year's... Come and gone. Conor, Jenn and grandson Sully, Owen, Daniel -- all here with Merle and me on Xmas Day. As much as I can ever hope for.
Read the new Lee Child (Personal), the new Michael Connelly (The Burning Room), Don Cherry's new book, and am currently immersed in Margaret Atwood's new collection of stories (Stone Mattress) -- my own haul from Santa this year. He left Season 1 of both True Detective and House of Cards in Merle's stocking, bringing us almost up to speed in the world of What's Hot out there in TV land. Re-read Robert Daley's novel Man with a Gun, and Merle, Daniel and I got out to see the film The Imitation Game, the story of Alan Turing, the Cambridge math genius who cracked the Nazi codes in WW2, essentially invented the computer, and was subsequently persecuted for his homosexuality (shades of Oscar Wilde), suiciding at age 41. A fine drama, centred on real-life, recent history (we all learned something).
Early last summer (see May 25/14 entry below), I mentioned that I'd sent off both Sailing Time's Ocean and The Woman Who is the Midnight Wind to John Douglas at Open Road, and that they were being considered for re-publication there. The ensuing 6 months saw some personnel shifts, with John handing over the reins to Emma Pulitzer (yes, from that Pulitzer family), and only last week I was told by her that the 2 books had moved to the top of her list and that amendments to add them to my contract were underway. Fine news indeed. And another example of how Patience is the virtue that sustains one in the world of publishing. Open Road has been good, leading to foreign licensing and audiobooks... Increased (highly desirable) exposure in the new digital world.
Met my new class of Writing students at Western this week. I think this one's going to be extra special and fun. It's an Advanced Short Story writing course, and almost 80% of them have taken previous courses from me -- and done well. The class was like Old Home Week, with students I was pleased to see again. How lucky is that?
And tomorrow is Conor and Jenn's 2nd anniversary.
I've agreed to take Sully for the day, so that they can have some time
alone to celebrate. They're dropping him off around 10 AM. I better get
a good night's sleep tonight.
December 14, 2014
Been told that New York based actor Chris Sorensen will be the reader for the Audible.com versions of the 3 Ashland novels. Sorensen is an award-winning narrator with over ninety audiobook titles to date (including, most recently, The Stories of Frederick Busch, a wonderful short story writer... Busch (1941-2006), recipient of the PEN/Malamud Award, the American Academy of Arts and Letters Fiction Award, etc., was Professor Emeritus of Literature at Colgate University for 40 years). In the fantasy genre, he's also read the works of Robert E. Howard and H.P. Lovecraft. Recording schedule is set for January, 2015.
Curiously, there was an interesting piece in the NY Times this past weekend, which focused on author Jefferey Deaver and his involvement with Audible.com and the world of audiobooks. Some quotes: "In the first eight months of this year, sales of digital audiobooks were up 28 percent over the same period last year, far outstripping the growth of e-books, which rose 6 percent... Meanwhile, hardcover print sales for adult fiction and non-fiction fell by nearly 2 percent... Audible dominates the market... Some are shunning the term audiobook and trying to rebrand their content as audio entertainment or movies for your ears." Deaver himself concludes the article with the following thought: "There are so many time-wasting alternatives to reading out there, and authors are up against formidable competition with things like Assassin's Creed, Minecraft, Angry Birds... This is an easier way for people to get access to good storytelling."
I'm a Book-Guy, a traditionalist. Grew up that way. No getting around it. Nevertheless, I'm looking forward to experiencing the movies for your ears. Another new step. Kind of exciting.
And back in December, 2013, I answered a series of questions from freelance journalist, Jennifer Foster, for a piece she was writing on The Short Story. The result is that I'm quoted extensively throughout her article Anatomy of a Successful Short Story, in the 2015 Novel and Short Story Writer's Guide: 34th edition, ed. Rachel Randall (Writer's Digest Books, USA, 2014). Turns out I'm in good company (Poe, Bukowski, William Trevor, Margot Livesay, et al.)
Re-read Robert Daley's Wall of Brass. Great story. And currently immersed in the Horton Foote biography, Blessed Assurance. Foote (1916-2009) is the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright who wrote the Academy Award winning screenplays for To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) and Tender Mercies (1983). (He also wrote the screenplay for the 1992 version of the film Of Mice and Men.)
(Sigh.) What might have been.
What should have been.
Bought the Xmas tree 2 days ago. It goes up and gets decorated today.
December 4, 2014
Class photos, Fall 2014. Great groups.Good memories.
Enjoy. (Click to enlarge.)
November 30, 2014
As you can see on the Main Page (link at top of this page), the Ashland books are now available as eBooks (click on above images) from both UK and Australian publishers (as well as from Open Road Media here in North America). Fine news indeed. The World Wide Web is an apt phrase.
Western University's Department of English Language and Literature's title changed a couple of years ago to the Department of English and Writing Studies, conjoining the fields of Literature and Writing, signaling a 21st Century recognition of the equality of the two fields and their separate strengths. Some annual rotated pairings of courses are in the planning stages, and the first one will look like this:
Fantasy Lit course in Fall term; Fantasy Writing course in Winter term, 2015-16.
Been asked to create and teach the Fantasy Writing course, beginning in January, 2016. It was even suggested that the partnership with the English Lit course could involve the inclusion of one or more of the Ashland titles.
You know, when I started at Western back in 2005, teaching the Fundamentals of Creative Writing course, I had no idea that I'd still be there 10 years later, and so fully invested in and committed to the creative writing program. This is the third new course I've been asked to create and to teach. I look back over the ten years with a kind of amazement, shake my head, and am grateful to have had this experience, this other career, at my age.
And I've been asked to teach the online course in creative writing again next summer (2015). Me and my Rocket Stick, pulling in the internet from a phone tower, at a cottage somewhere, woods and a lake, reading, writing...
Last classes of the term this coming week. Planning
on taking my traditional class photos. Keep an eye out for them.
November 7, 2014
Open Road Media, current publisher of the Ashland saga, is running a World Fantasy Awards campaign the next couple of weeks, promoting titles in their stable that were either Award winners or finalists. Both Shadow of Ashland and A Witness to Life were finalists in their year of first publication, and are featured there along with other celebrated works. (Very neat company!)
Read?... Share the link?...
November 3, 2014
Two months since last post! Egad... What hap...?
I dunno. Like John Lennon said: Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans. Stuff. It just kept happenin'.
Canadian Thanksgiving came and went. Got to look after Sully (6 months old) a handful of times (a treat!). Daniel in grade 9, about to turn 14 (amazing!). I'm in Week 8 of my teaching term -- which ends the first week of December. Grading, prepping, reading, travel. Had to get new digs in London for my weekly stay there -- an issue I'll embellish at a later date. Making the rounds of appointments re my eye (cataract) -- still unresolved.
From the blur, one event emerges that contributed
to the chaos. Maybe a month ago. Can't remember exactly. Likely, I've blocked
A Friday evening, I'm at my laptop computer, at my desk, the remnants of a glass of red wine beside me. I hit the glass with my hand. It spills across the keyboard and my heart does a jump. The screen shuts down.
Picture me turning the laptop over, the cabernet running out of its innards onto the desk, that sinking feeling.
A troublesome sleep. Next morning... Still nothing. I pack it up (almost new... purchased for serious bucks in the spring...) and take it back to Staples where I bought it. They tell me they'll have to send it out to their main plant for assessment.
A week later, I get a call, talk to the technician. He details a tale of woe and sadness, and outrageous cost for repair. I ask him if the the data on the hard drive can be recovered and he says he thinks so. I ask him what he'd do if it was his computer. He tells me he'd buy a new one.
I have a new computer -- a laptop -- one I never wanted (I didn't even really want the former "new" one). Another of life's hard-earned lessons. No liquid ever on the same plane as the computer. Cost: enormous -- both financially and in terms of time and anxiety. I'm still recovering files, emails, comfort level... You name it.
So I'm trying to update briefly. Bear with me. It's been disorienting.
Computers. I dunno... I dunno.
In the big scheme of things, though... Nothing. A blip on the scale. My job is to get my perspective back...
I'm almost there.
To help ease me through, I'm re-reading Michael Connelly's Harry Bosch novels -- first read a decade ago. I take one on the train to and from London weekly, and read it in my spare time there as well. I'm on my 10th in the last month. Diverting. Fun. He's a great creation, and Connelly is great at what he does. Bosch has a mission. Everybody counts or nobody counts. I like it. He's what I need: a man with a mission. A man living in the chaos, trying to make a difference.
Fiction can save me. It always has. It's made
me want to create my own. It's a wonderful thing.
September 4, 2014
Had meetings at Western 2 days ago, in preparation for the upcoming year. I'm teaching 2 courses this Fall. First classes are next week.
And got down to NYC for 3 days at the end of August. Hadn't been there for 15 years (and Daniel had never been). As you can imagine, it was a slice. Sort of like visiting Neptune and then returning. You're not sure where you were, but you know it was an alien planet. We enjoyed the visit.
(The serious side of it was the visit to the 9/11 Memorial... Very moving.)
In the What's New box on the main page, I've noted the upcoming licensing of the 3 Ashland titles to Audible.com (contracts signed). This is fine news indeed! Some further details/context...
Audible was founded in 1995, and subsequently acquired by Amazon in 2008 for $300 million. It's the world's largest producer of audiobooks, exclusive supplier of audiobook content to iTunes and Amazon, and is digitally downloadable on over 500 popular devices. In 2012, it launched its A-List Collection, a series showcasing performances by Hollywood's biggest stars (Colin Firth reads Graham Greene's The End of the Affair... Claire Danes reads Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale...Kenneth Branagh reads Heart of Darkness... Jake Gyllenhaal reads The Great Gatsby. Other readers: Dustin Hoffman, Samuel L. Jackson, Susan Sarandon, Anne Hathaway, Annette Bening... You get the idea. Nothing about this is small potatoes.
PDAs, mobile phones, iTunes, streaming media devices... Digital. It's the future in the present. Combined with Open Road's e-Books and print-on-demand paperbacks, the Ashland Saga is well placed for the 21st century... and hopefully, beyond that.
Will keep you posted.
July 27, 2014
Sunday morning, 8 AM... As usual, coffee in hand. Summer half over.
Spent 9 days at our cottage rental on Coe Island Lake near Bancroft earlier this month. It's become an annual event that has begun to define summer for us, changing routines and refreshing perspectives. Canoed, caught (and filleted a few) smallmouth bass, visited (and lunched) with cousins Jacquie, Jo-Anne and Bob in Madoc on the way up, and made our other annual 1-day trip to visit Tom and Ulla on nearby Papineau Lake. All the visitees seemed in great form, and it was especially heartening to see the positive aura surrounding Tom, given his health woes of the last year. We're all still heading forward into the future, trying to fit the various and ever-changing pieces of the puzzle together. And Bill and Judy spent 3 full days with us -- another pair of old friends heading forcefully and positively into the future, putting health speed-bumps behind them.
In fact, we're going to have dinner with Bill, Judy and Larry and Lori Swain at the Kaschuks this coming Saturday. Larry -- like Bill -- was a grade-9 schoolmate of mine. (We're talking more than 50 years of friendship here, folks.) The Swains moved to Ottawa in the mid-70s, and their visit to Toronto is a rare treat -- an event. A fine kickstart to August.
And right now, Conor, Jenn and Sully have descended on us here in Toronto (from Nova Scotia). They dragged a trailer full of some of their stuff, rented a storage locker nearby, and have been apartment-hunting, trying to get set for their relocation back to the city in September. Sully (3 months old now) seems like an awfully easy-going guy... (A treat... Lots of smiles!) We're all lucky... No question. Merle and I are practicing being grandparents. I think it looks good on us.
Bought a Rogers "Rocket Stick" (!) at the beginning of July (plug it into a USB port) to get the internet (from cell towers) while up on Coe Island Lake. The online summer course I've been teaching has just finished (July 25), and I needed it for all the obvious reasons. It worked just fine. I've submitted final grades this past weekend. Finis.
And our new (pre-owned) Hyundai is currently in the dealership. Like the Seinfeld episode (I always assume everyone's seen 'em), there was a pretty awful smell somewhere in the vehicle. We tried vacuuming, spraying, air-freshener, car wash... to no avail. Took it in. They've ordered 2 parts to fix the air conditioner (filters, or something). Cars. It never ends.
And finally, if you grew up in Toronto (as I did),
you'd enjoy Doug Taylor's book, Toronto Theatres (and the Golden
Age of the Silver Screen). I've been reading my copy for the past
week. Those Saturday mornings at the Fairlawn (with
my sister, Judy... The Durango Kid serials, yo-yo contests
on stage), the Avenue (Michael O'Gorman's grade-school birthday
party), the Eglinton, the Circle (Burt Lancaster in The
Kentuckian, free Mighty Mouse 3-D comic books), the Nortown
my mother took Dennis and I to see Vincent Price in the 3-D version of
House of Wax, which scared our pants off)... Trips to the Willow
(when visiting my cousin, Kevin), to the Beach
(when visiting my
sister, Anne), the afternoons at the Mount Pleasant (with my brother,
Dennis... Danny Kaye -- The Court Jester!), the teenage years
at the theatres on the Yonge Street strip... Adult trips to 'em all, from
north of St. Clair to Richmond on Yonge (and to the Tivoli, just
east on Richmond, where my grandmother (Nanny) worked behind the candy
counter into her 70s, and where I saw Annie Get Your Gun,
and had no idea what I was seeing... Grand nostalgia, great memories. They're
all history now. Check it out at his web site (www.tayloronhistory.com).
June 21, 2014
Just typed the date above, then took a second look at it. The summer solstice. Wonder what they're doing at Stonehenge today?
It's 7 AM, Saturday morning. Been up since 5:30. This gettin' old stuff... Jeez... My sleeping-in days are long gone. And Rev Canada wants another $488 from me... I just paid them! It's enough to make a guy consider a 3rd cup of coffee.
Three brief gettin'-old-stories...
- My doctor told me last week that the tingling in my right pinky finger (and occasional numbness) -- plus the constant soreness of the elbow -- is due to "ulnar entrapment syndrome." My ulnar nerve has gotten pinched (or trapped) beneath a ligament from my elbow to my hand. There's a chance it may work itself out over time, but the only real option is surgery to free it up. I think I'm just gonna have to learn to live with it -- like all the other physical blips of seniority. My dream of pitching in the major leagues is definitely over now.
- My friend Bill (all the way back to high school) had to have surgery re his prostate last month (the Achilles Heel for males). I had to have mine biopsied back in May. I dodged the bullet. This time.
- And thought I should acknowledge the passing of an old teaching colleague. Marv Lichtenfeld was on the staff of East York C.I. in Toronto with me for over 30 years. I went to his funeral service 3 days ago. A bachelor. 71 years old. No family. When you looked in the dictionary under eccentric, you might see his picture. I'd like to tip my hat to him publicly here this morning. Simply: we'll not see his like again.
Enough! It's summer today, after all.
Had a Skype chat with Conor, Jenn (and Sully!) on Father's Day. Now that Conor is a father too, it had even more resonance as an event. Merle made me scallops on the grill -- a favorite -- and gave me volume 2 of the new Heinlein biography (got volume 1 when it came out a couple of years back... [Just checked below... mentioned for Christmas in 2010]).
And the Blue Jays are still in 1st place -- by a game-and-a-half. Watched them come back from an 8-0 deficit to beat Cincinnati 14-9 last night... One for the ages. (Too bad my arm is out of commission.)
And finally: I dunno... What were those druids thinking at Stonehenge? Those are big rocks. Suppose some of those guys had ulnar nerve problems...
The day beckons brightly! Daniel's graduation
from grade 8 Monday... Ciao for now.
June 3, 2014
You can download the E-Book of Shadow of Ashland for $1.99 for the month of June only, as part of Open Road's First in Series Sale promotion. This is essentially a giveaway (seriously... what can you get for 2 bucks?), knowing that if you read it, you'll be hooked (of course you will) and want the other 2 (A Witness to Life and St. Patrick's Bed).
What are you waiting for? Christmas?
May 25, 2014
8 AM on a gorgeous sunny Sunday May morning.. Looks like a great day ahead (always trying to be the optimist). Might get my motorcycle out today... And the Blue Jays are in first place (how often can I say that?).
Finally bit the bullet and bought a new car (new, sorta)... A pre-owned (fancy word for Used) 2013 Hyundai Elantra. I'm almost embarrassed to be driving it, it's so nice (we're talkin' about a guy who drove 20- and 14-year-old treasures for virtually the last quarter century). I need a tutorial on what all the buttons do. O Brave New World...
And the same day I took delivery, Daniel got his new skateboard (longboard)... New wheels all around. Snappy family. (At 13, though, he's got his eyes on my car.)
John Douglas at Open Road has asked me to send him both 2006's Sailing Time's Ocean and my original (1987!) short story collection The Woman Who is the Midnight Wind for possible reissue (as e-Books and trade paperbacks). Copies of both went off to New York in the mail last week. Assuming it happens (why not?... Optimist... remember?...), it will make virtually all my books easily available once more. The Internet... O Brave New World... (Huxley usually gets credit for it, but it's Shakespeare's... Check out The Tempest). And Open Road is the formidable presence in this brave new world (Asimov, Jane Austen, Michael Chabon, Agatha Christie, Arthur Conan Doyle, Harlan Ellison, A.A. Milne, Ayn Rand, Robert Silverberg, Dan Simmons, Gloria Steinem, Theodore Sturgeon, Mark Twain, Leon Uris, Erich Fromm, William Goldman, H.G. Wells, Zane Grey...). Jane Friedman, Open Road Media's CEO, was interviewed by Forbes magazine in their May 19, 2014 issue. Check it out.
Re-reading Robert Daley's 1983 novel The Dangerous Edge. Terrific. And finished re-watching the1988 mini-series Lonesome Dove (DVDs). Wonderful. Back to the Future.
May 6, 2014
Merle, Daniel and I spent May 2/3/4 in Halifax
and Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, visiting Conor, Jenn and meeting Sully. A great
trip, good weather, great city and an auspicious occasion. The awed father
and grandfather are pictured below. Click on the photos to enlarge. And
April 29, 2014
It's official... I'm a Grandpa... Sullivan (Sully) Dennis Green entered the world to proud parents Conor and Jenn in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Saturday afternoon, April 26, tipping the scales at 10 lb. 3 oz. (!). A trip out East is merited quite soon to meet the fine broth of a lad.
And to mark the occasion of my new seniority,
I've updated the photo of myself that has graced this site's main page
since its inception (14 years ago). That photo was taken around 1995-96.
I scouted around and came up with a cropped shot taken at a cottage in
northern Ontario back in 2011. You can judge for yourself what the ravages
of time (15 years) have done to this old boy. You might even see the transformation
from mere father to grandfather. I dunno.
Inside my head, though, I'm still 23.
(Photos of Sully coming soon, I'm sure.)
April 20, 2014
Happy Easter! And What's New indeed...
Restructured the main page of this web site slightly. Figured it made sense to highlight the 5 titles that are now available easily as e-books or print-on-demand paperbacks, near the top of the page, with useful links. This is all part of me trying to enter the modern publishing world, where the digital book -- indeed the digital world -- is transcending the world of print that Gutenberg kick-started back in 1450. In fact, I've even heard a new phrase recently: The Gutenberg Parenthesis, referring to the last 500 years -- implying, of course, that you can put brackets around the era of book-making that had seemed to be unending. I dunno. Interesting. Food for thought.
Gutenberg was The Man, though. 500 years for an invention that just kept on changing the world... You've gotta try hard to think of another with that kind of long-lasting, profound ripple effect. The dissemination and permanence of information... It's the foundation of every other invention and advancement.
Anyway... Here's the new TMG link to the Ashland books, set up at Open Road Media.
Have discovered Ethan Canin. Fine writer (Merle and I are both reading him). Currently reading America America, after finishing Emperor of the Air, The Palace Thief, For Kings and Planets and Carry Me Across the Water. Found the last 4 at BMV (Used) Books, near Yonge & Eglinton here in Toronto, and sent away to Amazon for America America. All terrific, moving books. He teaches creative writing at the University of Iowa's prestigious Writers' Workshop (do the names Roth, Carver, Cheever, Irving resonate?... All former alumni or faculty...). I'm surprised he's not better known. And I do enjoy having the actual books in my hand, and pulling them out when I ride the train to London weekly.
And a mention of a film worth scouting up... Enough Said, with James Gandolfini and Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Terrific. Adult romantic comedy. Picked it up on DVD. Also watching the 1988 mini-series Lonesome Dove again (on DVD). Beautiful stuff. Robert Duvall in the role he was made for.
Bought a new laptop. My old one was 11 years old. I loved it, but it was slow and quickly dating itself in so many ways. And I needed a newer, more reliable machine to handle the online courses I'm now involved with (see Feb 15/14 below). The fact is, though, that even though it's faster and clearer (hi-def!), I never really wanted it. I don't really want anything new. I don't want a new car (but that's something I'll transcend shortly, as the Toyota winds down). I don't want a new house, or a new job. I like my old clothes, my old shoes... I even like my old pocket comb. I told Merle I didn't even want a new woman (she laughed... fat chance!), that I liked my life, and that at my age, change was anything but desirable. I've become a senior Holden Caulfield (The Catcher in the Rye)... Check it out. Can't we just keep everything the same? It's enough to wear a guy out.
I've been given a permanent "Standing Appointment"
at Western (let's hear it for permanence!). This is a kind of tenure
for Part-Timers. My courses are mine until I retire or resign -- unless
there's "cause," of course. And I'm pleased. It looks like they're gonna
have to carry me out of there. And since starting my annual income tax
calculations for Revenue Canada this weekend, it looks like I'll need a
job for some time to come.
April 10, 2014
Thursday afternoon... Been a while... What can I say? Busy. Busy busy busy.
Just wrapped up my 2 classes at Western 2 days ago. Got all the paperwork and grades submitted for the online course, and now have to settle down and read/grade the final assignment/stories submitted by my "in-person" class. Here they are (click to enlarge)...
I'll be back in a couple/few days. Gotta wrap up those assignments.
(And then the dreaded RevCanada annual sinkhole...)
February 15, 2014
8 AM, Saturday morning. I'm the only one up.
The cold spell (noted below, Jan 12), seems to have passed -- finally. Now it's just good old normal winter. That I can handle. My son, Daniel (13 years old) went on a school organized ski/snowboarding trip yesterday, to (appropriately named) Snow Valley, 2 hours north of Toronto. He needed snow (or ski) pants for the trip (we're not a skiing family), so I sauntered over to the local Canadian Tire and SportChek stores mid-week to see what was available (and how much). The season is apparently pretty much over, so stock was low both places -- but what I saw opened my provincial eyes. Prices ranged from a low of about $50 to well over $300 (picture my eyebrows rising as I checked the racks). Ya gotta admit... Seemed a little pricey for a one-day trip. So... Merle called on Michele, our next-door neighbour (whose family does ski) and asked if she could borrow a pair for Daniel for the day. Generously, Michele lent us hers, noting that she would need them back by Sunday morning (tomorrow).
Long story short... Daniel arrives home, empties his backpack, has no idea where the pants are. Maybe you can let yourself imagine the various reactions (they were interesting, including long distance calls to Snow Valley... fruitless). We haven't told Michele yet (embarrassed cowards). And Merle will be off today, early, shopping for a new pair... Likely replacing them with ones better than those borrowed, as a show of repentance.
Moral of the story: never borrow snow pants from your neighbour; limit yourself to butter, eggs and sugar.
- Owen's birthday tomorrow. He'll be 33 (!).
- Was asked -- and agreed -- to teach the online Creative Writing summer course for Western (runs May to mid-July) (!).
- Booked a cottage for a week in July (I'll be online, lakeside, somehow, dealing with the above)(!).
- Conor and Jenn have a name picked for the baby... Sullivan (Sully) Dennis Green (!). Sullivan is a family name on Jenn's side, and Dennis is a name in both families... A good name, too little used. In fact, I welled up slightly when Conor told me... My brother, Dennis... 5 years gone now. But never really gone. Not really. And when I heard the name... I was speechless, with the proverbial lump in my throat. ETA: May 1st (!).
Used up my year's quota of exclamation points above.
In my What's New (on the main page), I noted that E-Reads (the world's oldest independent e-Book publisher) has been acquired by Open Road Media (the largest independent e-Book publisher in the English language). This is news in the last week. And like all sudden business news, it'll take time to see how it plays out. Seems like it'll provide more exposure for my 3 Ashland titles, as Open Road has greater resources, especially in the all-important area of marketing.
From the press release...
Open Road, founded in 2009 by legendary publisher Jane Friedman [former chief executive of HarperCollins], is both a digital publisher and a multimedia content company that utilizes a proprietary online platform to market content to its audiences via video and social media. It publishes over 4000 titles, with several thousand more in production.
And perhaps a more interesting look at Jane Friedman is this piece in the Wall Street Journal, April 20, 2012.
The publishing landscape keeps shifting. Will
keep you posted.
January 12, 2014
Sunday morning. Quiet time. Coffee at hand.
Welcome to 2014! Christmas and New Year's Day now in the past. The passage of time... Always amazing to a simple fellow like me.
Picture (and hear) Bert Lahr as the lion in The Wizard of Oz, waking up in that field of poppies, the snow coming down: "Unusual weather we're having lately, ain't it?"
Not just Toronto, but most of North America east of the Rockies was caught in a stunning deep-freeze the last couple of weeks -- and all of the corollaries of an event like that. This will be remembered as the winter of the Great Ice Storm that froze the city solid and brought down 20% of our tree branches (many of them dragging hydro lines as they collapsed with the weight of the ice). We lost power for a couple of days (and froze) and then our furnace cut out twice (a capacitor and heat regulator dying -- or being blown due to on/off power surges) -- and we froze...You get the idea. Old time Canadiana. Gotta shake your head when you think of those pioneers.
It was so cold that Western University (London, Ontario), due to that city's record-setting low temperature and wind-chill, cancelled all classes Tuesday, January 7. It was a very sane move (surprisingly so for a bureaucracy that big).
And our dishwasher did die (see note below, December 14). It's been replaced. (Cue up the VISA card.)
But somehow, the Beat Goes On (and Went On).
Daniel got his X-Box One for Xmas, Merle got that fancy hair-curler, and I got the handful of books that I'd been eyeing (the latest from Michael Connelly, Lee Child, James Lee Burke, Henning Mankell, and the Bobby Orr memoir). So all's well that ends well.
I've been online a lot the last week with my class at Western, familiarizing myself with the whole (new to me) concept of Distance Learning. Intriguing, I must admit. Still learning the ropes. Fascinating to see where this will all lead. My life keeps shifting gears, taking me down new roads. I've expressed my mantra previously, and it still applies: I didn't see this coming. I hardly see anything coming.
Back in the saddle this coming week (anybody
left out there who can picture Gene Autry?) -- one day of travel and
teaching. Will keep you posted. (And in the cowboy vein... my friend, Bill,
warned me not to see the new Lone Ranger movie... Destruction
of a legend... Is nothing sacred?)
December 14, 2013
The term at Western is finished for me. Classes over... Marks submitted... Busy time. And Xmas is coming at us headlong (great word, headlong... adjective... adverb... hardly any chance to use it -- unless you're in the 14th century).
Already buying VIArail (train) tickets online for next term. Getting (and staying) organized is half the battle. And then, ride the whirlwind.
And did I mention that I made the University Students' Council Teaching Honour Roll for the academic year 2012-2013? Didn't think so. That's why I'm mentioning it now. Very neat. Only 3 (of 27) in the Writing Department were singled out (my first time). It's determined by the results of the formal (computerized) course and instructor evaluations, submitted by the students at the completion of each course. As I've said (below, Dec 4/11), just when I figure I'm beyond caring about stuff like this, I surprise myself by realizing that I'm gratified by any sort of recognition. We're pretty simple creatures, right? (Well... I guess I should speak for myself.) Truth is, I've worked hard at it (in my 9th year there now... created and taught 2 new courses... the internet technology... the train rides... the overnighters...and me now a senior citizen... not quite the zip I used to have...), and it made me smile. Simple as that.
My newest course will be offered in January, 2015
(I'm already booked in). Here's the official blurb and description:
Sailing Fiction's Longer River: Advanced Short Story Writing
"A follow-up to Writing 2218F (the introductory course for short story writing), this course is for students who wish to pursue the art of short story writing to the next level, by stretching their fictive wings and producing longer fictions in different modes (perhaps touching on the novelette). Students considering this course should take Writing 2218F first in order to ensure thay are adequately prepared."
I look forward to the challenge... The teacher will learn with the students, and try to get it right. Ba-boom.
And other stuff...
Daniel is officially a teenager (13). Yikes. (Loss of innocence?)
Re-read Avery Corman's The Old Neighborhoodand 50 -- 2 novels from some time back. They held up. Recommended.
Reading Mark Greaney's Dead Eye right now. Great fun.
And a conscious decision to stress positive stuff in this entry, in
the Xmas spirit.
(I coulda told you about a family death, a bedbug experience, my sore knee, sciatica, neuritis, high PSA count, whiteouts on the highway south of Sudbury and the slow death of our dishwasher. See... you're interested. Hang in there. Maybe in the New Year.)
November 8, 2013
Bit of publishing news...
E-Reads, the American digital publisher of my 3 Ashland novels, has licensed distribution rights to them with Gollancz(London) in the United Kingdom. Gollancz, primarily a genre publisher now, has venerable roots (Sir Victor Gollancz founded it in 1927), and published George Orwell, A.J. Cronin, Kingsley Amis, etc. back in the mid-20th century. Clearly, they're venturing gamely and bravely and aggressively into the modern publishing world of the 21st century. The paperwork's just beginning on this.
eBooks... Who'd've thought it...
4 more classes (1 per week) to go for the term at Western. Time barreling on.
Still working my way through Thomas Perry's novels. Really enjoying his character Jane Whitefield. (What to read when finished?) I did pick up Jo Nesbo's new one. It's on the shelf. Soon...
The JFK assassination... Coming up to the 50th
anniversary. One of the 20th century's singularly pivotal moments. And
The Question: Where were you when...? If today, it'd have thousands of
video and film images available. Only Zapruder back then. The end of an
era in so many ways. (Surely, you've followed a bit about Toronto's mayor,
Rob Ford? Everything is recorded, everything is available.) Kind of like
the digital revolution of the book world. The internet has changed everything.
October 12, 2013
It's the (Canadian) Thanksgiving Weekend... Saturday morning, approaching 9 AM. Sun on red-yellow trees outside the window, forecast for great weather. A beautiful fall treat the last few days. I've been up since 6:30, finishing off grading a set of assignments from one of my classes. Got half of the other class to do (13 stories). Will have them done and returned this coming week.
Owen is coming over tomorrow for Thanksgiving dinner, and to watch the premier episode (season opener) of The Walking Dead with Daniel. The ritual has restarted. It's quite gratifying to watch these two guys together -- the 32-year-old and the 13-year-old (actually one month shy of 13, but whatthehell). Sunday evening will be a focal point for the next few months. Good. I'll take any excuse for these get-togethers.
And speaking of TV as a unifier... Merle, Daniel and I are well into the DVD of Season 2 of Homeland. It's riveting drama. We watched 2 episodes last night. Daniel thinks he might have a friend over this weekend and try to introduce him to the show. Clearly, we're all fully engaged. It works. (And as above... I'll take any excuse...)
And let me sing the praises of writer Thomas Perry -- who, like Vince Flynn (Sept 12/13, below), I've just recently discovered. I'm gonna have to read 'em all. His Jane Whitefield character is a remarkable (and original) achievement. Tremendously enjoyable books. Smart. Fast-paced. Recommended.
And now for the Rest of the News...
Good: Jenn and Conor are expecting their first next spring. I'm gonna be a grampa. Amazing. Wonderful.
Not-so-good: I've got a small cataract in my left eye. It's the beginning of something that's going to have to be dealt with at some point down the line. I'm joining a large club. Age and UV damage. The universe breaking us down. The battle against entropy goes on.
Through a semi-cloudy blink... And a half-smile...
Lookin' out the window at the sun on those fall colours...One day at a
September 12, 2013
Met my 2 Writing classes at Western this week. I'm looking forward to the semester. The ball has started rolling. Again.
Re-read The Catcher in the Rye last month. I taught it in the English classroom annually from the mid-70s right up to the late 90s, but it'd been years since I read it from cover to cover. It holds up. Simply, it's an amazing book, timeless, and ahead of its time by years. What an achievement.
Merle, Daniel and I are quite hooked on Breaking Bad (Sunday nights at 9... Don't call or interrupt us). Great television. And I'm looking forward to picking up the DVD of Homeland, Season 2, which has just been released (more great TV).
Reading the final Vince Flynn novel (see Aug 5/13, below). There's a poignancy to the experience, since I know what happened to him. (From the Acknowledgments at the novel's beginning: "Thanks to a lot of prayers and great medical care, I'm feeling better than I've felt in years..."). The novel was published earlier this year... His last. And incidentally... It's titled The Last Man.
It's around 5 PM, Thursday. Daniel's doing his math homework, and every 10 minutes or so he comes in with a question. So far, so good. I've been able to handle 'em. Hope he gets it finished before I expose my limitations.
(My luck held. He finished the math. Now he's on to his English reading assignment. He's to read the short story The Most Dangerous Game, a favorite old chestnut for the classroom -- and one which I also taught for years!)
As I've said before... The past never disappears. It's still Out There. It's still hovering.
August 5, 2013
And suddenly, amazingly, it's August.
Spent a fine week at our rented cottage on Coe Island lake, near Bancroft (Ontario) back in July. Catching smallmouth bass is a fine (and recommended) way of coping with the modern world. I get to indulge in it too seldom. No computer. No e-mail.
Almost too much to comment on and deal with right now. A very distracting summer to date. In June, my sister-in-law, Ruth, passed away (cancer), age 83. The family convened in Sudbury. A few weeks later, my friend Rob Sawyer's brother (Alan, age 51) passed away (cancer) here in Toronto. And last week, an old friend from high school/university (Randy Grimes -- and his wife, Patty) had his/their daughter (Erin, age 37) pass away (cancer, again). She was married, 2 small children. This last one rocked all of us who knew the family.
It hasn't been fun.
So... Distraction. Smallmouth bass. Reading.
Discovered Vince Flynn and his CIA assassin Mitch Rapp. Have read 6 of his novels in the last month. Great fun. And then I discover that he, too, died of cancer (prostate) back on June 19, 2013 (less than 2 months ago). He was 47, married, 3 children. There willl be no more books. Check out his web site: http://www.vinceflynn.com.
And I could name at least one other old friend who has been stricken with the same scourge of late. What are the odds.
By the way... I like to catch and release those
bass. I realize it's a contact sport, but I like to see them escape. It
just seems right. A small mercy. We could all use a few of them.
July 1, 2013
Writing this at 7 AM, coffee at hand, while the house sleeps. Summer's really here... It's July. Daniel finished grade 7, Conor and Jenn are in Halifax (since March), Owen doing well, and Merle always The Best.
Have agreed to teach 4 creative writing courses at Western for the upcoming academic year (2 from September to December, 2013, and 2 separate courses from January to April, 2014). This is an increase in the workload I've had in the past. My first 3 years there (2005-6-7), I taught one course only -- in the fall. In 2008, I was asked if I would consider staying overnight for one night and create a 2nd course and teach it, which I did. The following year (2009-10) I was asked if I'd consider teaching a 3rd course in the Winter term (January to April). I talked myself into it, and thus began my ViaRail commute during the winter months. (You beginning to see the pattern?). And as a capper... one of my new 2014 courses is an online course, so I'm going to have to amp up my computer skills significantly.
Instead of decreasing my workload over the past decade, I've been subtly increasing it, becoming more and more involved in (and enjoying) the remarkable growth of the creative writing program in the Department. Clearly, I'm in the vanguard against ageism in the workplace. Who knew?
My mantra: I Didn't See It Coming.
Merle, Daniel and I were in Ottawa last weekend (another train trip), helping to celebrate the marriage of Tom and Ulla. Tom and I go back to 1968, when we began as rookie English teachers at East York. C.I. in Toronto.
Shipped my 20-year-old 1993 Honda Civic to Conor and Jenn in Halifax. They now have Wheels. Being young is as grand as being old. Adventure abounds.
May 15, 2013
Saw the new film version of The Great Gatsby (a prelude to Dinner Out on Mother's Day). Enjoyed it more than I thought I would. Very stylish. A solid rendition of the tale. A visual treat. What the heck... I know the book perhaps too well. Taught it many times in the English classroom. Love the last line ("So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.") Pure poetry.
Found a couple of books I'm enjoying too. Picked up the novel Sutton (by J.R. Moehringer) at Chapters-Indigo on a whim recently. It's based on the life of the American bank robber Willie Sutton -- a contemporary of Capone et al. But the intrigue for me was the name Sutton. My paternal grandmother's maiden name was Sutton, and our genealogy is filled with Suttons back to the early 1800s (from Ireland). A pretty facile reason for buying it, I admit. But it paid off, because I discovered the author (Moehringer), and was impressed enough to scout up his previous book -- the memoir The Tender Bar. I'm well into it right now, and it's another I'd recommend. I love the wandering path from book to book, exploring, tasting, finding new literary cuisine. Great pleasure.
And I can't sign off today without mentioning the Leafs-Bruins Playoff Game 7 two nights ago. I picked up my older son, Owen, and he came back to our place and watched it with me, Merle and Daniel. It was an unbelievable TV event, as the Leafs imploded and we were witness to an epic collapse, a true head-shaker and jaw-dropper. But what struck me (again) is just how much nonsense the so-called Reality Shows are that litter the small screen -- all staged and contrived. Sport is the true Reality Show, completely unscripted, unpredictable, with the potential to be totally involving. Terrific entertainment, win or lose (and someone always loses... the hook for our fascination).
Survivor, or any of that ilk? I can't get through an episode.
I'm off to make lunch. Daniel will be home soon.
After that, back to The Tender Bar.
April 29, 2013
Back in the halcyon days of 1988, when Rob Sawyer and I were getting rolling (he's since rolled over all of us on his way to a successful writing career), he interviewed me for Books In Canada -- the venerable magazine that's no longer with us. And in keeping with his role as a veritable historian of the Canadian SF scene, he's unearthed and reprinted that interview on his web site, commemorating 25 years since its publication. I've linked it here: RJS site: 1988 TMG Interview.
I wrote him the following email in response. You
may find it of interest.
I just followed your link and re-read it (first time in a long while). Fascinating. Thanks for highlighting it on your site.
In hindsight, I think I got a lot of it right.
The notion of 15-year spans -- looking backward, looking forward -- I think it's still valid. The peripherals of the future continue to arrive and blindside us, but not the essentials.
And that final observation of mine in the interview (about Canada) has been Out There as a quotable item for some time now. It's found its way into nooks and crannies I never foresaw.
You might find this fascinating as an update... Here're a few of its forays...
and Mail’s “Thought du Jour,”
Canada Day, July 1, 1998.
Subsequently quoted in the
Sudbury Star, Arts & Entertainment,
July 4, 2009
Included in The Dictionary of Canadian Quotations (1991), ed. by John Robert Colombo
Originally published in Books in Canada interview, April, 1988.
Who knew? (Way back in 1988?)...
The past, the present and the future, commingled inextricably, as always.
April 21, 2013
Wrapped up my teaching at Western for this term (enjoyed my weeks with them). Off till September. Here's a photo of the class on our last day (April 9). (Click to enlarge.)
Did my income tax this weekend. I owe them money. Not so great.
April 6, 2013
The 3 Ashland novels (Shadow of Ashland, A Witness to Life, St. Patrick's Bed) were reviewed in their reissued 2012 E-Reads editions by Western News in its April 4 issue. With roots stretching back more than 40 years, Western News is the award-winning weekly newspaper and electronic news service of Western University (London, Canada). It distributes 10,000 copies weekly through campus news boxes. Beyond this, it branches out to include city libraries, education centres, hospitals, research facilities, city hall, external media, alumni and selected individuals. It's also wired into a variety of databases (Daily News Service, podcasts, etc.) in keeping with our digital world. In short, its readership is a unique demographic, which although focused on the academic community, has a broader, interesting reach.
I've been teaching Creative Writing in the Department of English and Writing Studies at Western since 2005. Western News asked faculty to submit any new books for possible review. I explained that although these 3 novels had been out-of-print for several years, they had just been re-published simultaneously by E-Reads (NY) as both e-Books and trade paperbacks in 2012, and that in effect, then, they were newly designed, brand new books that folks might like to know were once more easily available.
Western has more than 1400 full-time faculty (and I suspect this number rises to over 2000 when including part-time faculty). Beyond my students, I only know about 30 people -- folks from my own area, fellow Writing and English profs for the most part. It's a big place. The books were handed off by the editors to a gentleman named Kane Faucher, an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Information and Media Studies. Don't know him. Never met him. Our paths have never crossed -- and may never cross. But he provided an intriguing (and highly academic) reading of the novels, from a unique vantage point and background, which is certainly worth the time of anyone interested in them.
I've set it up in a readable pdf format here: (Western News Review of Ashland Novels).
March 30, 2013
Picked up the 1959 novel Alas, Babylon,
by Pat Frank last week at the Chapters-Indigo store at Yonge & Eglinton
Toronto (click images below to enlarge).
Reading it, I was reminded that I'd written a Foreword to Phyllis Gotlieb's 1964 novel, Sunburst, for its reissue in trade paperback back in 2001. (Phyllis was a good friend. She asked me to write the Foreword to it -- one that addresses the phenomenon of the post-holocaust novel and its place in the genre (and the psyche of the time) -- and I was honoured to do so. All this is made more poignant by her passing, back in 2009... see July 17, 2009 entry, below).
(Personal Aside... A Canticle for Leibowitz is still my favorite, and in my opinion, the best of these tales.)
And on another note...
Browsing the Internet... a labyrinth without end... blind alleys... treasure-filled caverns. Curiosa everywhere.
Doing some genealogical probing regarding my grandfather (Martin Radey), I came across a piece written (in 2012) about my 1999 novel A Witness to Life. It's a remarkably gratifying appreciation, written by someone I know nothing about and whom I've never crossed paths with. But it's something I'd like to shine a small light on and bring to the attention of other readers. So enjoy a visit to the Confabulator Cafe.
March 24, 2013
Posted a link in the What's New box on the main page, but I'll post it here too: I'll be at Keep Toronto Reading 2013, 7 PM, April 16. Plan right now is to talk about the 3 Ashland books (Shadow of Ashland, A Witness to Life and St. Patrick's Bed) which were reissued this past year as eBooks and trade paperbacks by E-Reads, New York, and deserve a bit more promo. Perhaps a Reading too (I'll be prepared).
The Internet, incredibly, keeps everything alive and available, the past at one's fingertips, including my books. As well as the above, Barking Dogs and Blue Limbo thrive at Phoenix Pick, and Amazon.com is a gateway to the others -- indeed, to all books... and ultra-reliable.
Teaching going well. Good class. I shouldn't be surprised, but I am, at how much I learn with them. Teaching is Learning. 3 more weeks and it's end of term.
Conor and Jenn are in Halifax, still finding their feet. Daniel keeps in touch regularly, texting and Skype. Owen here every Sunday evening to watch The Walking Dead with Daniel.
Daniel is 5 feet tall. (Time marches on.)
For our Saturday Night at the Movies, Merle, Daniel and I watched a DVD of Slumdog Millionaire last night (picked it out of a Bargain Bin at Best Buy for $4.99). It won the Academy Award for Best Picture of 2008, and somehow it slipped between the cracks and we missed it first time around. Very enjoyable. Daniel thought it was terrific.
Merle and Daniel are raising Sea Monkeys. They're in a container on the window sill over the kitchen sink. If you're old enough, you know what I'm talking about (advertised in the back of every comic book in our long-ago youth... Click on image below to enlarge).
Me... I'm rolling up the rim at Tim Hortons
regularly. Won a few free coffees. Once got a donut. I could really use
that car though.
February 11, 2013
Surpassed 30,000 visits to this web site. A lot? I dunno. Depends on expectations and where you're standing. I'm pleased. The books live. I'm as active as I want to be, which is a perfect zone to stroll around in.
And I turned 66 earlier this month. (Yikes.) Merle got me a bottle of 18-year-old Glenfiddich and the CD Tell Laura I Love Her (Big Hit, 1960... Ray Peterson... ). If you're of my vintage, the number (66) may have another curious resonance. Remember the TV show Route 66? Ran from 1960 to 1964. Two guys cruising the famous highway in a 1960 Corvette. The theme song (by Nelson Riddle, of Batman theme fame) was a minor hit back in '62 as well. Those were the days we thought we'd all have a Corvette and tool across America at leisure. (What happened?) But I digress (an allowance at my age)
Valentine's Day, Owen's birthday (32 years), Family Day, Conor and Jenn moving, Conor's birthday (35 years)... All hovering on the horizon. Gonna be busy.
Stumbled across an entry on me that I didn't realize was on the internet. John Clute's landmark volumes of the 1990s (The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction , The Encyclopedia of Fantasy), are being digitalized and made available to all. They're a terrific (and literate) reference for anyone interested in the the fields as a totality. Here's the link to my own entry, but it can lead you into the indexes of the volumes themselves: http://www.sf-encyclopedia.com/entry/green_terence_m. He's got words there I don't even know (equipoisal?).
Half-way through February. Already.
January 18, 2013
And this Friday afternoon, a bit of breathing room -- and mild recuperation from the gathering spotlighted below (January 16 entry). It was a great event. Wouldn't have missed it for the world. And now, I'm glad to be home. My old heart and soul can't take that kind of seism for any extended period.
So, Back in the Saddle...
Devoured the biography of Joseph Kennedy (The Patriarch, mentioned December 27 below) -- almost 800 pages. Read it on the train back-and-forth to Western, and took it to Cuba. A terrific book about a fascinating figure -- one who commingled fabulous material success and wealth, power and celebrity with multiple personal tragedies involving 5 of his 9 children (2 sons -- JFK, RFK -- assassinated; his eldest, Joe, shot down over the English channel during WW2 at age 29; a daughter -- Kathleen -- died in a plane crash in the late 40s; his eldest daughter -- Rosemary -- spending her adult life in care facilities for the mentally handicapped. He lived from 1888 to1969... Two World Wars, the Roaring Twenties, the Stock Market Crash, the Depression, then the 50s and 60s. To say I was entranced -- and that I learned a lot -- would be an honest assessment. If it was fiction, it wouldn't be believed.
Writing related news...
My short story Room 1786 (see October 28/13 entry below) has been picked up for publication again. It'll appear in the upcoming anthology being assembled by John Smallwood, who is the English Department's Curriculum Coordinator for the Virtual High School. Until John contacted me, I was unaware of the school. I recommend checking out their web site. Some fascinating work being done, and yet another digital inroad into Education. And that's what the story is about. Room 1786 was written in 1982. Prescient?
And I'll be appearing (talking/reading) at the Morningside Branch of the Toronto Public Library on April 16, as part of their Keep Toronto Reading 2013 program.
Teaching related news...
I've been approached about creating and teaching a senior fiction (short story) writing workshop at Western, one that would act as an advanced continuation to the one I've been teaching since 2008 (which came about the same way). The success of that course has paved the way for this. It's a natural follow-up, and a perfect fit. I'm pleased, and will keep you posted.
And unrelated to anything news...
Bought the DVD of the recent Liam Neeson movie Taken 2 today. Merle, Daniel and I are gonna eat hot veal sandwiches (the adults might wash 'em down with cold beer) and watch it tonight. I know, I know... It got tepid reviews. We don't care. We're big fans of the prequel (Taken), and can't be dissuaded. We might be the perfect audience.
As usual... Eat your heart out.
[Saturday Morning update: Taken 2 is
a pretty weak sister to the original Taken -- which is a classic
of its kind, with some truly iconic lines and scenes. Might even qualify
as a bad movie. Credibility issues all over the place. But we had a good
time. Lots of fun.]
January 16, 2013
Jan 11, 2013, Santa Maria, Cuba
(click to enlarge)
It happened. Conor and Jenn are now Mr. & Mrs. Green. There was a party of about 30 folks who made the trip to be a part of the event, and it was a pretty emotional time for this old Dad.
I'm thrilled for them.
Wanted to get this posted pronto. More later...
December 27, 2012
A quick report on what was a fine Xmas...
The 24th and 25th were civilized, enjoyable, amenable days... a kind of (rare) family cohesion that is so difficult to assemble or coordinate as everyone gets older and constructs their own lives as adults. But it happened. For that I'm grateful. Very. Family needs a hearth, a core. I'm delighted that it could be our home... at least this year. Conor and Jenn will be getting married in January. What the future holds for them -- and where they'll eventually end up -- may curtail the likelihood of this happening again soon. So it's a richness to be embraced and remembered.
Lots of stuff...DVDs, games, wines, coffee maker, turntable, kettle, perfume, earrings, books...
Speaking of books (a favorite topic of mine), got The Patriarch (biography of Joseph Kennedy), The Black Box (the new Michael Connelly 'Harry Bosch' novel), and Coach, Rosie DiManno's bio of former Leaf coach Pat Burns. And I finished The Stone Diaries (see Dec 19 entry below), a book that shows clearly how good a writer can be, and why literature matters. Terrific. And just to show what an eclectic guy I am, what a Renaissance Man, I'm following it up with Coach. I'm into Chapter 3 already, and am enjoying it immensely.
The plan today is for Merle, Daniel and I to see the film Lincoln this afternoon, and follow it up with dinner at East Side Mario's. Eat your heart out.
On the horizon: New Year's Eve. Have a good one.
December 19, 2012
Wednesday evening. Ordered pizza for dinner from Bravo Pizza at the corner. Wolfed it down. Will try for a brief update before Xmas... which is coming (again this year) like the proverbial onrushing train.
Trying to set up social dates and get the mandatory shopping done. Always overwhelming -- especially for a non-multi-tasker like me. Finished my class at Western back on December 5... Got my final grades in last week. Enjoyed the class very much. Here's a photo, taken on that last day (Click to enlarge):
Re-read Colleen McCullough's The Thorn Birds, which I hadn't read since 1977 (35 years!). It's a relic from a bygone era in publishing -- namely, the era of the big paperback blockbuster (Jaws, Shogun,Trinity... tattered copies lying in everyone's homes at the time... prior to VCRs, DVDs, the Internet, Smartphones, Twitter... shrinking attention spans...). 600 pages. Reminded me of Gone With the Wind... even Wuthering Heights (only much more readable). A giant, compelling melodrama, staking out the boundaries of Romance. What really impressed me was her research. Credible, though? No. But then, what about those last 2 novels cited above?
So I tried to balance the experience by re-reading Richard B. Wright's 2001 novel, Clara Callan. This is a much better book... Believable. Literary. (And it's Canadian!). Recommended.
And now I'm gonna re-visit Carol Shields's The Stone Diaries -- from 1993... which I remember as a fine novel.
Women's fiction, all. But great stuff.
Best book I read this past year? The one that pops to mind is The O'Briens (see July 5/12 entry below). Shields, Wright, Behrens... Canadians all. Coincidence? Unlikely. Bias? Perhaps. I have to say, though, that Canadian writers are world-class... It's simply a fact. These last 3 are all terrific.
Conor and Jenn and Owen will all be here Xmas Eve and stay overnight. We'll all get to have Xmas morning together, watch Daniel open presents. Rare. I think I'm a lucky guy.
Have a great Xmas.
December 2, 2012
Sunday morning... I'll try a tiny bit of catch-up...
Things proceeding as they should... Whatever that means. Been pretty busy with my teaching and reading and travelling back and forth to London (Ontario). Daniel's 12th birthday has come and gone. Seven 12-year-old boys were here for a sleepover, and a trip to the movie theatre to see James Bond in Skyfall. As good as it gets? Probably. I think I missed out when I was 12.
Dinner last week at Randy and Patty's, along with Chester and Jennifer, and John T. from out-of-town. All old friends (Chester and I go back to when we were 12-year-olds ourselves... Randy from university days, John from when we all played pick-up hockey every Friday evening, back in the 70s and 80s). A grand reunion. Like it all happened yesterday.
My entertainments (that I can write about) are reading and films -- and now those AMC series that are standing television on its ear in terms of ambition and accomplishment. The Sopranos was head and shoulders above the crowd, and now I think you can add to it Mad Men, Breaking Bad, and The Walking Dead. And I'm pretty sure that the newest one, Homeland, will stand with them as well (I bought Season One on DVD after it won the Emmy... Still unwatched... Something to look forward to). Baseball is out-of-season, and Hockey is enduring the lockout, and the only thing I can watch on regular TV tends to be Seinfeld reruns (The Simpsons has its moments), so I think this new fount of TV dramas is a kind of salvation for the medium. We've turned a corner.
Books read of late:
Latest novels by John Sandford, Stephen Hunter, Lee Child.
Re-read L.A. Morse's The Old Dick (about a 78-year-old detective... It won the Edgar -- back in 1982, I think).
Re-read a bio of writer Olaf Stapledon (philosopher, writer).
Re-read Arthur C. Clarke's Childhood's End (remarkable still) and Robert Silverberg's Dying Inside (the other end of the SF spectrum).
Read Gregory Benford's In the Ocean of the Night (a novel written circa 1977 that I had somehow overlooked). Was impressed enough to download its sequel, Across the Sea of Suns onto my (Daniel's, really) Kobo (see...I'm a modern guy).
Read Deon Meyer's new novel 7 Days (he's always good).
Re-read Fred Haefele's memoir Rebuilding the Indian (a fine book) and Leigh Brackett's 1955 novel, The Long Tomorrow (interesting and under-rated).
A lot of these are trips down Memory Lane, visiting old friends. Clearly, I like Memory Lane, especially as I get older myself. Like the dinner at Randy and Patty's.
I also bought Jo Nesbo's The Bat. Spotted it in the Bookstore at Western this last Wednesday. It's the first Harry Hole thriller, written in 1997, translated into English for the first time. It's been resurrected on the basis of the success of all his later novels. I'm saving it until after I finish up my term at Western, after I get my grading and final paperwork out of the way.
And finally... Today is my Dad's birthday. He's
108. He left us 17 years ago, but I still see him and talk to him everyday.
He still lives with us.
October 28, 2012
Back in November, 1982 -- a mere 30 years ago -- I had a short-short story titled Room 1786 published in a most unlikely venue. It was collated by John Robert Colombo, along with stories by Robert J. Sawyer and Andrew Weiner, and appeared as Three for the Future in Leisure Ways, the official magazine of the the CAA (Canadian Automobile Association). For such a small piece, originating in such an off-the-wall place, it has stood the test of time in interesting ways. Subsequently, it has seen republication in The Writer's Voice 2 (a Methuen textbook, 1985), in my own story collection (The Woman Who is the Midnight Wind, 1987), was broadcast on CBC Radio's Between the Covers (2005), and most recently, appeared (along with a new Introduction) in Inkshed, the Journal of the Association for the Study Language and Learning (CASLL), in their Theme Issue Teaching Writing with Technology (2007).
Written pre-Internet, pre-Wiki, clearly it still has has legs -- even if they're short ones.
And some relevance.
And because everyone knows that one should celebrate
as much as one can, while one can (Time's Winged Chariot), Rob Sawyer and
John Robert Colombo took it upon themselves to host a 30-year Reunion gathering
at John's house (last night) to mark the occasion. Rob has displayed and
introduced the 3 stories, their background, and included a photo from last
night on his own web site. No need for me to duplicate what he has so clearly
presented. I encourage you to click on the following link and see/read
for yourselves. The publication of Rob's, Andrew's and my story, introduced
and collected by John at that time, was a watershed event. In hindsight,
it served as a kind of symbolic launching pad for our varied and interwoven
careers, our mutual support -- and our continuing friendship over the years.
Enjoy. 30-year Reunion
October 6, 2012
And it's Canadian Thanksgiving tomorrow. We give thanks up here a month or so earlier than below the border, because we're so much more grateful so much sooner. We just can't wait.
Merle's bought the turkey. Owen will be here to join us. (Conor and Jenn are in Cuba right now, scouting out stuff for their upcoming wedding there in January... They'll be missed.)
I've finished teaching my 4th (of 13) classes at Western. One of my students (of 26) is completely blind. Just when you think you've had every experience possible as a teacher, along comes another. This is a challenge for both of us, and I'm getting as much from it as she is. Very interesting and rewarding.
I've been taking the train back and forth between London and Toronto for the past few years, and when I teach an evening class, I stay overnight and come back the next morning. I stay in an old, edge-of-campus, unused residence -- a once-stately abode, fallen into some disrepair. Nevertheless, it's still got much of its former charm and grandeur, and I nearly always have the whole place to myself, so no complaints here at all. In fact, I enjoy it. After class, I spend time eating a late dinner there (who am I kidding... usually a Subway sandwich, purchased on campus, which I take home with me), watch some TV (baseball or hockey, but with the NHL lockout, I'm semi-bereft).
Don't think I've talked about this before, so here's an exterior shot:
Volunteered at Sunnybrook Hospital to act as one of several guinea pigs in their clinical trial attempts to MRI the male prostate for cancer screening. Spent 2 hours there yesterday morning. Presently, this is done by biopsy -- very invasive, and somewhat controversial. They're trying to advance to a less primitive, easier method. I like to think that me and my 65-year-old prostate will help make life much easier for all you guys in the future -- including my own 3 sons, naturally. (All that research dedicated to the creation of a new Smartphone... C'mon, geniuses. Focus... Focus.)
Have discovered the TV series Breaking Bad. Pretty incredible. Went out and bought DVDs of the first 4 seasons to catch up. Watching 'em open-mouthed. And reading George R.R. Martin's 30-year-old novel, Fevre Dream. Forget that Twilight stuff. Check this out. This is the Real McCoy.
September 3, 2012
The books (above) have been available as eBooks since late May; the trade paperbacks became available mid-August. A box of contributor's copies showed up here last week. For the author, it's always a special time. The stories become real, physical, once again. If you want 'em (and why wouldn't you?), they're available via the internet (isn't everything?), from just about any bookstore -- although Amazon's always reliable.Or simply go to the author's page at E-Reads.
It's Labour Day (in Canada, we spell it here with the "u"). Daniel starts grade 7 tomorrow (his mother took him back-to-school shopping yesterday). I'll be back at Western on the 12th. But summer's hanging on. We've still got terrific weather... The sun's got that soft feel of September, though. We got down to Niagara Falls for 2 days last week, and managed a day-trip to Crystal Beach on Lake Erie. In its glory days, Crystal Beach was Coney Island, and Toronto's old Sunnyside amusement park combined. They dismantled it in 1989. Time caught up with it, like it does with everything. I remember being taken there as a kid in the 1950s (giant roller coaster, the Magic Carpet). It's just a beach now... a very nice one. You have to close your eyes to see those coloured lights. A bygone era. It had a sense of nostalgia for me, which was kinda sweet. If you're interested/curious, check out this link: Crystal Beach Park, 1888-1989.
Yesterday was our anniversary (18 years). Merle grilled giant scallops, mushrooms on the BBQ, and we ate on the deck last night.A perfect evening.
Owen coming for dinner tonight. Things are good.
(And I fixed the (August 20 entry) When it Rains link below!)
August 20, 2012
Annual Green Family gathering at my nephew Bill's house in Ajax back on August 11. A terrific annual -- a welcome chance to update and touch base with everyone -- all the richer because of Time's Winged Chariot. One of my other nephews (Patrick) found a brief (2 minute or so) old 8 mm film clip of his mother's wedding on May 31, 1952 (60 years ago!), had it transferred to a DVD, and brought it along (gave me a copy... I'll have other copies made and distribute it further throughout the family). We all watched it. There I was... 5 years old. Holding hands with Dennis (3 years old) and Kevin (4 years old). Stunning. Moving -- especially when I saw Dennis. And there were my mother and father (42 and 47 respectively), Anne (22), Ron (19), Jacquie (24), Judy (13)... Everybody, in fact. I still can't get over it. A true time capsule. Wonderful. And so many of them gone.
And yesterday, Merle and I went to see my son Conor in the play he's in at this year's Summerfest -- at the Factory Theatre in downtown Toronto. Another stunning, wonderful event. He was in When it Rains during its first run in Halifax, back in Spring, 2011. It's played in various places since, and bringing it to Toronto was a coup for the festival. It was sold out, and got a deserved standing O.
Try this: When it Rains. You'll find an under-2-minute segment on YouTube plugging its opening (in Halifax) back in April, 2011. Take a look at it. It'll tell you more than I can. Simply: If it shows up in your area, don't miss it.
Summer fading. Treasuring it. Treasuring everything.
July 22/23, 2012
Quiet Sunday morning. My favorite time to reflect, update.
Spent a week at a rented cottage on Coe Island Lake (near Bancroft, Ontario) -- a cottage we've rented previously (2010), and on a lake we've been going to since 2006. We think it's got it all... whatever that is. To each his/her own. Beautiful swimming, great smallmouth bass fishing. Daniel took a friend along (David K) and we had old friends Bill and Judy Kaschuk up for a few days as guests. And the weather -- the key, uncontrollable variable in Ontario summer cottaging -- was the best it's been in years.
The lake is a deep, clear limestone lake. Most of the shore is rock, and standing on the dock, one can gaze down into the water (visibility 15 or 20 feet) and see the sheer rock cliffs plummet into darkness. I like this. And I like getting up at dawn, taking my 50+-year-old fishing rod & reel (bought for me by my father, in days of memory), taking my coffee in the canoe, and sliding out onto the glassy surface (I don't go out on a windy morning... It isn't the same). I'm the only one out there. Me and the loons. And if I'm lucky, the mist is still burning off as the sun rises. There are 2 small islands a few minutes away. I spend most mornings circling these islands, dropping down bait, casting lures, peering down into those depths (always close to shore, so that I can actually see the drop-off, or the bottom, see the fish hit and take the bait). Those couple of hours are a spiritual retreat. Catch-and-release. I can take an average of 6 nice ones every morning. The smallmouth is a beautiful game fish -- pound-for-pound a great fighter. (I managed to rouse the boys one morning, and the 3 of us slid across that perfect surface, catching, releasing.) They can break the surface, float in air, shake the hook, and half the time they're successful. And I don't really care. Seeing them leap, play their part in the morning drama, is something only a fisherman can understand. Pure poetry. When I'm out there, my father and my brother are with me, 50 years vanishing, enjoying it too. They understand. They get it.
later...that one morning... the 3 of us, heading back
And over the last half dozen years, another ritual has emerged. We bookend the week with an annual lunch visit (on the way there) with my first cousins Jo-Anne (and Bob) and Jacquie, who live in the area, and on the way home, a visit with old friend Tom Potter (and Ulla) and family, at his cottage in the area. And it's gratifying to see and hear how much Daniel -- at 11 years of age -- looks forward to all 3 parts of this annual pilgrimage. I think we're doing something right.
Reading more Deon Meyer and Steve Hamilton. The John Irving didn't work for me (see July 5, below).
Big family outing last night. Merle, Daniel and I, along with older brothers Owen and Conor (and Jenn), all went downtown (Richmond and John) to see The Dark Knight Rises, and afterward the post-film analysis at Jack Astor's across the street (all Dad's treat). A great, rare family get-together, everybody having fun -- everybody a film critic (and Daniel sopping it all up joyfully). We purposely avoided the topic of the madness in Colorado, deciding that it would spoil the event (an event that had been set up a week in advance) for Daniel. We'll fill him in this coming week, with our own edited version. The nutcases would spoil everyone's life, if they could.
By the way... It's an intense movie. I think I'll need to see it again.
And last week, we took Daniel and a friend to Canada's Wonderland for a day (this is Canada's Disney World). Not my cup of tea at all. I'd never been. But then, I'm not 11 years old. The rides looked terrifying to me. The kids loved it.
The things we do. Gotta have memories... And more
important, the older I get: gotta create them.
July 5, 2012
Summer's here. Hot. Seriously hot. Looking forward to getting away for a bit to a rented cottage, gazing into that clear, limestone lake, watching my rod bend when those smallmouth bass hit, hearing those loons. These are the small pieces of being Canadian that add up to more than the sum of their parts.
Read Peter Behrens's The O'Briens. Wonderful novel. Moving.
Read Steve Hamilton's The Lock Artist, the 2011 winner of the Edgar Award (Mystery Writers of America) for Best Novel.
I enjoyed it. Impressive. I'll look fore more of his work.
Read Deon Meyer's Trackers, set in South Africa. Another writer I wasn't familiar with. Very impressive and enjoyable. I'll read more of his work too.
And my oldest son suggested Don Winslow, so I picked up his novel Savages -- which has been filmed and is being released this month (director: Oliver Stone). Now this is a tough one to comment on, because it's so hip, so cool, that I just might be in the wrong demographic. It's about the California/Baja drug trade, and just how much they really are savages. It's hypnotically readable, though, and sharply (blackly) satiric and bizarrely funny about American culture. I confess to being curious to see how the film portrays this book.
Got the new John Irving novel, In One Person. Expect to have it read this month. Maybe cottage reading.
Daniel and his friends took in the new re-booted Spiderman yesterday. I secretly wanted to go with them. I think we'll have to have a family outing and he can see it again.
And the new Batman movie, The Dark Knight Rises, opens July 20. I'm right into this one. We'll be there. Its forerunner, The Dark Knight, is one of my favorites.
Merle and I watched (again... see June 12, 2008 entry below) The Last King of Scotland on DVD. This is definitely not a kid's movie, so Daniel was not a part of it. It's an incredible film, though, an important one, and when he's a teenager, he should see it. Everyone should see it. It's about Idi Amin's regime in Uganda in the 1970s. Powerful and stunning. Should/could be a part of a history currriculum. Forrest Whittaker's portrayal of Amin is absolutely riveting.
Merle, Daniel and I watched Russel Crowe and Christian Bale in 3:10 to Yuma (saw it originally a couple of years ago... see Jan 18, 2010 entry below) on DVD a few nights ago. Terrific movie -- again. Inspired, I picked up a second-hand DVD ($7.99 at BMV) of Gary Cooper in 1952's High Noon (Do not foresake me oh my darling... Love the song... I sing it in the shower). I plan on watching it with Daniel. I may have to tie him down, but that's the way it goes. Father Knows Best. And in the same vein, I picked up copies of 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) and American Graffiti (1973). Time Tripping into the past. Great movies. My parental prerogative. I'll let you know how it goes.
And more on Into The Past...
Daniel and 3 of his friends performed a Lip-Sync, as Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons, singing Sherry (1962) -- think Jersey Boys, if you must -- as part of the end of his Grade 6 school year. It was on the front lawn, and the rest of the school -- and parents -- were the audience. It was a blast, and a great success. When one of the teachers asked me about the song Daniel chose (he did choose it), I told him he had a vast selection of 1950/60 songs on CDs at home to choose from, and he'd heard 'em all, because he had the oldest parents. The rest of the kids should be so lucky.
Couple of photos. Enjoy.
Getting right into it...
June 10, 2012
The reissue of the Ashland novels (see June 2/12, below, etc.) piqued my interest anew in the whole area of digital reading and e-Books, and I borrowed my son's Kobo Reader and set about pressing buttons and exploring this (to me) somewhat alien territory. Like every quest worth its while, it's led me down curious paths and tangents galore. I've downloaded the 3 books and must say that I'm very impressed with both the quality and detailing (the maps and family trees at the beginning of A Witness to Life and St. Patrick's Bed are reproduced perfectly).
And how much does all this cost? (I can hear you asking.) The answer is $4.09 a book... $4.62 each, taxes included, here in Canada. It's charged to one's VISA. It's so affordably innocuous, you almost can't not download a book you want... Cheaper than most magazines.
So I continued down into the digital labyrinth, scouting out old books, looking up long-forgotten authors, and it's been a revelation. I think I'm a convert.
One example... I've discovered Project Gutenberg, a site offering some 39,000 free eBooks, all titles previously published by bona fide publishers, now in the public domain, digitized and diligently proofread by thousands of volunteers (www.gutenberg.org). Check it out.
I found the site by searching my Kobo Reader for a book that was on my English course way back when I was a stripling in grade 10 (yikes). I recall thinking it was pretty thrilling back in those uncritical, halcyon days, and had always wondered what I'd think of it today. The novel was Prester John, by John Buchan, originally published in 1910. Sure enough, there it was... several eBook versions available. None of them were expensive, but the one that caught my eye was Free. I downloaded it to see what was what, and thereby stumbled upon the Project Gutenberg edition... which, of course, led me to Google the site, and voila!
And a few words about Prester John and
The book is an amazing artifact (set in Africa), and I'm enjoying it (half-way through, so far, on the Kobo) for what it is. And I'm reacquainting myself with exactly who John Buchan is/was. Buchan (1875-1940) was an amazing guy, whose most famous novel The Thirty-Nine Steps (1915) has been filmed at least 3 times -- the most famous version being the 1935 Hitchcock one. He was born in Perth, Scotland, studied in Glasgow and at Oxford, had diplomatic posts, lecturing posts, and journalism assignments in France, South Africa, Egypt, etc., before becoming Governor General of Canada, 1935-1940. His 100 works include 30 novels, 7 collections of short stories, and several biographies. In fact, he founded Canada's Governor General's Literary Awards, arguably Canada's premier award for literature. He wrote an autobiography (Memory Hold-the-Door, published at his death in 1940), which I think I might enjoy reading. His life work speaks of intelligence and energy. A minister's son, I think it's fair to say that he did well.
You know, I've occasionally reflected back on the books that were a part of my high school English courses (ancient days... 1959-64), and often thought that I would've liked to have been a fly on the wall at the meetings during which the books were selected as course material. And as a further reason for my interest... I taught high school English myself for more years than I like to count, and think I understand how many roadblocks can lie in wait on the route to getting a book approved. But among the obvious Shakespeare and Dickens staples, other grade 9/10 titles that I recall... Prester John (certainly), Old Yeller, Mutiny on the Bounty, Ben-Hur, The Innocence of Father Brown (Chesterton), Uncle Fred in the Springtime (Wodehouse), The Diary of Anne Frank...... Amazing stuff... in a time before the world fully explained sexism, racism, political correctness, etc., to us.... Before the reading stopped and video replaced it ... I think, perhaps, the reading menu offered was a wonderful mixed salad, and those who selected the texts need a small nod of approval for a job well done. This was at St. Mike's, Toronto. Visionaries? Maybe with a very small v.
And all this diversion is further testament to the whole digital world, and the wealth of information at one's fingertips. One detail spawns another. And then another. And... I think it's a blast.
June 2, 2012
Shadow of Ashland and A Witness to Life are now available as e-Books from E-Reads.
St. Patrick's Bed is available as an e-Book (Kindle) from Amazon.com...and will be available from E-Reads shortly.
They'll download onto your Kobo, Kindle, iPad, etc., for a pittance. Check out the links above. The books are introduced on the E-Read home page's May 29, 2012 entry.
I think they've done an elegant job of presenting the novels as a trilogy. They look classy to me. I'm pleased.
Try 'em. You'll be pleased too. I know it.
May 16, 2012
When we lived in our old house downtown (1988-2002), there was a Zeller's store in a nearby mall. They gave me a Points Card, the idea being that every time you purchase something there, you hand them the card, which they scan, and points accumulate. (For those out-of-the-know, Zeller's is a Canadian chain -- kind of a baby Wal-Mart.)
When we moved to our present home in 2002, there was a Zeller's in a nearby mall. The pattern continued. Only recently, though, there have been giant signs there announcing Liquidation!... Going Out of Business!... Everything Must Go! It appears that the Americans are coming, and its destiny is to become a Target store.
I began to think about my 24 years of accumulated points. (There's a Seinfeld episode like this). Had no idea what the total would amount to, but figured I better think about cashing them in. Soon. Went on the internet, did my bit, discovered I had 1,285,060 points, and sorted through the bizarre and sundry items for which I could trade them.
Ready? Curious? What do a million+ Zeller's points get you? (Who wouldn't want to know?) Two days ago, a gift certificate for $100 at the Keg Restaurant and 6 Adult Admissions to any Cineplex arrived in the mail. (Are we gonna party, or what).
24 years... I dunno.Reasonable? Unreasonable? How can you measure it? Interesting, though, right? Food for thought. The start of a good bit of sophomoric debate.
And here's the thing. There is no moral to this story. It's just a modern tale of consumer life, of points cards in all our wallets, of the shock of how much we've all spent, of our unchanging habits, of wrestling with the question of whether you're a genius or a fool, of the unnoticed passage of time. And of making sure you avoid that Seinfeldepisode where Elaine never gets to cash in her points. But what's a day without a good rationalization? I close my eyes... I'm slicing into my filet mignon, after we've all taken in The Avengers.
And soon comes the Target store.What a lfe!
Interested in the future of The Book Business? Of course you are. Check this out: It's an interview with Richard Curtis, founder and publisher of E-Reads, the pioneer in digital reading and upcoming publisher of the Ashland books.
More change on the horizon. It's enough to shake
a guy up.
April 15, 2012
Sunday morning. Second cup of coffee. The house sleeps.
Re the post below... We saw John Carter. And Daniel had previously seen The Hunger Games (the mega-hit) with friends as part of a birthday party event. His evaluation: John Carter was better. And he said it... "What do the critics know." Out of the mouths of babes (or, 11-year-olds). By the way... I enjoyed John Carter too. It was fun. And I hope the whole thing will be a good memory for him.
Have read several of Jo Nesbo's novels recently (Norwegian crime writer, whose continuous character, Harry Hole, is a member of the Oslo police force). I'm enjoying the books, and am impressed. Good page-turners. According to the Globe and Mail's Book Review columnist, Margaret Cannon (who originally brought him to my attention): "Devotees should check out the trailer for the Norwegian film adaptation of Headhunters, which opens this month, and Martin Scorsese has begun filming The Snowman." In other words, his is a name you'll likely see more of in future. He's been discovered by America.
Was told earlier this month that I'd been given a Standing Appointment as a lecturer at Western. This is fine news indeed, as it ensures that I'll be on faculty there annually for the indefinite future. A tiny bit of recognition, that makes life a bit smoother, involving a commitment on the part of all parties concerned. I'm very pleased.
But speaking of recognition... Merle has won the David Keeling Award for Administrative Excellence, given annually by the Faculty of Medicine at University of Toronto, for her continuous (and incredible) work in the Department of Medical Biophysics. She gets a plaque and $1000 at a ceremony in the Great Hall, Hart House, at U of T, on April 30. Family is invited. Daniel and I will be there. More on this as it unravels and is posted publicly. I'm pleased and proud. She deserves it. And more.
And the Ashland books... In the
pipeline. Soon now, I trust...
March 25, 2012
It's around noon, Sunday. Planning on going (with Merle and Daniel) to see the film John Carter in an hour-and-a-half. Of the 3 of us, I'm the one who wants to see it... in spite of mediocre reviews. I'm fascinated to see what they did with a 100-year-old novel -- one that I read in my youth and enjoyed. It's based on the book A Princess of Mars, by Edgar Rice Burroughs (of Tarzan-creation-fame), the first of 11 novels featuring John Carter on Mars. I was thinking this morning that I reminded myself of my father. When the film 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea came out back in 1954, he took me (age 7) with him to see it at the old Imperial Theatre here in Toronto -- just the 2 of us. Told me that he'd read the novel (by Jules Verne) as a boy and had loved it... wanted to see what they'd done with it as a movie.
This brings me to a whole area of consideration, regarding why we want to see certain films, why we want to read certain books... indeed, why we want any particular items. There are as many reasons as there are people. And the so-called critical establishment is a little bit myopic (and often snobbish), in my opinion, when discussing popular entertainment. There seems to be a sense that if one enjoys something that is not part of the Canon of Literature or Film, then not only is it a reflection of our lack of taste, but it it somehow reflects on our intelligence. I humbly submit... I can be accused of many things, but I don't think that stupidis one of them. I also submit that there are vastly different kinds of intelligence, and that how one processes certain books and films varies wildly, and depends on personal experience as well as one's own particular world-view. Hell... There are even Guilty Pleasures. Everybody's got 'em.
Got to thinking more about this recently, because I picked up and read a novel that I first read back when I was about 23-years-old (I'm 65 now)... Elizabeth Appleton, by John O'Hara. I was stunned at how interesting I found it, how much it intrigued me, and how much there was to admire in it. I was stunned because O'Hara isn't really regarded as part of The Canon I referred to earlier. He's pretty much dismissed as a novelist of manners, a bit of a strange bird, a curio from the first half of the 20th century, wildly popular then, but a bit too sensationalist to be Considered Seriously. Still intrigued, I picked up another O'Hara novel from the 60s (which I read at the callow age of about 20) -- The Lockwood Concern. I'm only at page 95, but I'm in awe of what he's achieved so far, and am also quite hooked by his story.
Why did I have these novels in my garage, still, from some 40 years ago? O'Hara wasn't a writer we studied in my days as an English Major in universiy. His books were bestsellers -- and thus highly suspicious to the Literary Establishment. It was a friend of mine, Larry Swain (hi. Larry!), who mentioned to me once in passing, back in those halcyon days, that he enjoyed reading O'Hara. Memory is strange. Amazing that I can even remember this. Larry was (is) one of the smartest guys I knew. If he liked this writer, maybe there was something to this. Well, the fact is that there was something to it, and he had found it in his own way, roaming free, unbridled by the Literary Establishment.
Which leads me to my next tangent...
I Googled O'Hara and read lots about him. I Googled The Lockwood Concern, wended my way through the internet to Anthony Burgess's (of A Clockwork Orange fame) idiosyncratic 1984 book 99 Novels, in which he itemizes his own personal list of the 99 greatest novels in English between 1939 and 1984. The Lockwood Concern is one of them. I am not alone.(Neither is Larry).
And now... off to Mars (Barsoom), with John Carter. It's 1 PM. Like
father like son. Into the past, our own children in tow.
March 9, 2012
Thought I'd add a brief update re the upcoming reissue of the 3 Ashland novels (mentioned in the What's New box on the main page, and in the July 5, 2011 entry below). A phrase I've used often to describe the publishing industry: this is not a business for the impatient.
Nevertheless, things are finally solidifying. I've been in email contact with John Douglas (Acquisitions Editor for E-Reads) for the last couple of weeks, and the promo copy and a few other things have been hammered out. The 3 books will likely be issued simultaneously. I think it should happen before the summer.
E-Reads (ereads.com) was founded in 1999, at the dawn of the digital era, and is the oldest independent eBook publisher in the field -- an innovative leader in the modern book industry. It's run by Richard Curtis, a veteran of the publishing business, author, and owner of his own literary agency, currently representing over 100 authors in all fields. Working with him is John Douglas, another veteran of the business, with over 30 years experience, including that of staff editor at Berkley, Pocket Books, Avon and HarperPaperbacks. I look forward to traveling the digital road with these 2 savvy publishing professionals. It promises to be an educational and fascinating journey.
More when I know more...
February 27, 2012
Not an especially eventful few weeks... if you discount the fact that our fridge died, and our bank account is now several unbudgeted dollars lighter. The fateful words: "Your compressor's gone." And then the ripple effect. Bought a replacement in a record lack of shopping-time (fridge died Sunday, service call on Tuesday, purchase Wednesday morning, delivery Friday: back in business. Built-in obsolescence and modern life. The blink of an eye.
As Vonnegut says: and so it goes.
Daniel and I went skating yesterday (Sunday) afternoon at the local arena. It's something I can do well, I like it, and it's good for me. And Daniel's ability has suddenly "clicked in" this winter. He's become a smooth, in-control, fine skater. We're lookin' good out there, if I do say so myself. If you'd suggested 30 years ago that I'd still be skating (well) and accompanied by my 11-year-old son, I'd have blinked a couple of times, shaken my head, wondered what I was hearing. And it's these things that keep the Big Adventure going ("Didn't See It Coming"). It's grand.
Rented a cottage near Bancroft for this coming July. March just around the corner... Summer in my head.
Read my 13th Henning Mankell novel (The
Troubled Man... the final Kurt Wallander book) earlier this month.
There's another, older one, by my bedside. I'm very impressed.
February 5, 2012
Celebratory update... My '93 Honda Civic (cited in January 21 entry below) is still on the road. I ignored the Canadian Tire mechanic's scorn and took it elsewhere, where they dutifully failed its emission test as expected, and issued it another 2-year Conditional Pass. Estimated repairs to get it emission-worthy are off the chart, so I'm targeting a 20-year life span for it. Nice round number.. I can see myself, nestled into its bucket-seat, goin' down the road, into the future, encased in my collector's item...
Another long story which I'll truncate to the good stuff... Two weeks ago, helping my son, Owen, move stuff up the stairs to his apartment, I caught my heel, fell backwards, and hit my head (ouch). The resulting gash in the back of my head needed 9 staples to close it (at East General Emergency). That's right. Staples. If you've never had your head stapled, it's quite an experience. They even give you a staple-remover, to take to a Walk-In Clinic (or your family doctor) 10 days hence, to get them plucked out. I had 'em plucked 2 days ago. (Ouch again.) Nevertheless, all's well that ends well. The back of my skull looks like Zorro caught me in a flashy mood, though. Another distinguishing feature, setting me apart from the masses.
The University of Western Ontario (my employer) is changing its name to Western University, in an attempt to re-brand itself into a simplified identity. It will henceforth be know simply as Western, following in the illustrious footsteps of such as Harvard, Yale, Princeton, McGill, Cornell, Stanford, etc., etc. Gone is the long-held Tower logo, and in its stead...
My clock finally ticked past 65 years. I'm officially a senior, and can now avail myself of all those neat discounts. I have to tell you, though... It's still unbelievable.
I'm still a young dude. You should see what goes
on in my head.
January 21, 2012
Back at Western. This term's Fundamentals of Creative Writing class has 23 students. Had our first workshop last week, so things are developing as they should. Riding the train for 2 hours each way leaves me time to enjoy reading. I'm still polishing off Henning Mankell and Jo Nesbo novels. I must be in my Scandinavian Phase.
My 1993 Honda Civic has been on parole for the last 2 years. Ontario requires that a car pass an emission test bi-annually in order to get a sticker for its licence plate. Back in 2010, the Honda failed (it'd been close for a few years, but finally slipped over the edge). They gave it a Conditional Pass -- which they can do if the estimated repairs are over $450. The condition is that it either be repaired or taken off the road in that time (it can't be sold unless the repairs have taken place. Sold?... It's not worth anything on the market). It's due for its 2012 emision test at the beginning of February. There's no way it'll pass. I understand they can give it one more Conditional Pass (for 2 years), then that's it. It's not even certain right now if they'll even test it (I spoke with a mechanic at Canadian Tire last week... He just shook his head). The thing is, it still runs great. A mere 225,000 km. Granted, there's a lot of blue smoke following me, especially before the engine warms up. Makes me smile when I look in my rear-view mirror. It pretty much doesn't leave the neighbourhood anymore. Sigh. Nostalgia. I wanted it to make 20 years. Now... I dunno. I can see my bank account cleaned out again.
I'll keep you posted.
Saturday Night at the Movies...We watched the 1986 film (on DVD) Three Amigos, with Daniel last night. Ate tacos, chips, drank beer. Great evening, wonderfully ridiculous film, with Steve Martin, Martin Short, Chevy Chase.
Turning 65 next month. I know, I know. It's impossible.
December 31, 2011
Thought I'd add a conclusive note to my entry of December 27 (below)... re the new King novel -- 11/22/63.
Simply, I think it's his best. It wasn't exactly 1000 pages, as I suggested... Merely 850 or so. But I finished it in 4 days, and read it incessantly. Literature? Not really. But a Good Story? Yes. And well told? Yes. Even moving at points, for which he gets full marks.
I think he finally chose a subject (the JFK assassination and the nature of Time/Cause/Effect, etc., that was interesting and mature enough to engage me fully -- and to engage his talents fully. He's a heck of a strong storyteller. His reputation as a horror writer has been well earned, and therein has been much of my reticence to get fully invested in his tales. I haven't been able to fully commit to the premises of some of his yarns. This wasn't a horror story, but rather, a trip into recent history, a meditation on Time (the Real Mystery of existence) and Chance, and what we do with our choices in life -- and why.
I have a hunch this book won't be as big a hit with the teen crowd as Carrie, Christine, Salem's Lot, etc. And that's why it's better. As I mentioned above -- it's more mature.
There's a reason why it was selected by the Globe and Mail as one of the Top 100 books of 2011, and even more impressive, by the New York Times as one of the Top 10 Books of the year.
Google those reviews, if interested:
But it does weigh a ton. Start working those triceps and biceps, if you've had your curiosity piqued..
And Happy New Year!
December 27, 2011
Santa came, Christmas happened. Not a white Christmas. In fact, it's raining right now. Exact opposite of last year.
Owen came Xmas eve, stayed overnight, left around 10 PM on Xmas night (staying to watch Rise of the Planet of the Apes with us, which we all enjoyed -- Daniel's new favorite movie). Daniel, naturally (at 11 years old), cleaned up. Big deal, though: he's now the proud owner of a new Apple laptop. (It's better than my own Toshiba -- now 9 years old.)
Nathan and Tommy (2 of Daniel's classmates) stayed here for a sleepover last night (it's Xmas holidays, after all), and they too watched the Planet of the Apes rise again, played computer games, and fought with light-sabres. This morning, we all ambled over to the local Golden Griddle, where they chowed down at the buffet.
Got 3 novels I'd told Santa I'd like to read over the holidays... James Lee Burke's Feast Day of Fools, Michael Connelly's The Drop, and Stephen King's 11/22/63. Burke's novel is his 30th book, I believe, and I've read (nearly) all of 'em. According to the reviewers, this one's supposed to be great. I'm a believer. I'm also a believer in Connelly's ability to deliver top-of-the-line entertainment every time out. The Drop, too, is the recipient of a host of positive reviews, whetting my appetite.
As for the King novel, I approach it quite differently. My reaction to his books has always been mixed. He can tell a story, but he can also overtell that story. As a general feeling, I get the sense that in each one of his giant 1000-page novels, there exists a pretty good 400-page book. I've always thought he needed to be (seriously) edited, but his international success has precluded that ever happening. He's just too successful. People would buy his laundry lists (maybe they have... I dunno). I tried Under the Dome last summer, for example. It didn't work for me. Doesn't matter. It still sold a gazillion copies.
This one sounds different. Its topic interests me: the assassination of JFK. I was 16 years old at the time. It's all pretty vivid in my memory (or what passes for my memory). In fact, I had the front page of the Toronto Star for that day laminated. It's still in my basement. Simply, it's about a guy who tries to go back in time and prevent it from happening, and by extension, all that would've/could've changed as a result. In the Book Biz, this is what's called a High Concept novel, and this is about as High Concept as you can get.
It's gotten very good reviews -- been much better
received than most of King's previous work. So, yes... I'm intrigued. I'll
let you know what I think. I've just started it up. It's 1000 pages too,
and I didn't want to have to lug the poundage back and forth to London
in January. Obscene, doorstop-style weight. I think this is what eBooks
are perfect for. I'm so slow to catch on...
December 4, 2011
Daniel celebrated his 11th birthday back on November 19. It was a Saturday, and we had a total of 7 equi-aged boys here for dinner at a restaurant, a sleepover (air mattresses and sleeping bags in the basement), and breakfast the next morning. They were great and they had a great time. (Jeez...Nothing like it ever happened to me as a kid...). In fact, the event was such a hit that one of the group chose the idea for his own birthday celebration, and Daniel just got back from a sleepover party at his house this (Sunday) morning. In his absence, Merle and I treated ourselves to a wonderful dinner and evening on our own last night. Fact is, the parents get to party too.
Finishing up my teaching term at Western this coming week. Last week (on Wednesday, November 30), I was involved in a Reading event at the Grad Club at Western (along with Kathryn Mockler -- poet, fellow faculty member, and friend), and it was a fun time. I'd pretty much thought I was immune to these kinds of things, but surprised myself pleasantly with the kick I got out of Reading in front of the Western crowd, which included students and faculty.
I read my short story, Legacy. It was first published in the United States (The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction) in 1985, and since that time has been published in Italy and France (in translation), and twice more in Canada. The last one was in the Crime Writers of Canada anthology, Over the Edge, back in 2000. And it worked just fine last week too. It's got something... Got legs....
I picked the story for the usual variety of reasons (length, topic, appropriateness for the specific venue, etc.), and its selection and revival now has a certain synchronistic resonance (how's that for a phrase?). I just found out a couple of days ago that Phoenix Pick, the publisher of the 2009 trade paperback and eBook edition of my novel, Blue Limbo, is making that novel its Free eBook for the month of December, 2011 (the same promotion they gave to Barking Dogs, back in October, 2010 -- see entry of that time, below). The synchronicity lies in the fact that Blue Limbo is based on the central idea of the story Legacy -- the notion that in the near-future, a device is available that allows one to Revive a person's brain for up to 4 weeks after he/she has died... for personal communication, settling of estates, final goodbyes if the death was sudden and unexpected -- and for law enforcement, the solving of murders.
For those in the Download World, the Digital Generation, you can get the Free eBook by following the link http://www.PPickings.com.
Poster, with additional info here.
The Free eBook Coupon number is 9991437.
You gotta admit... The price is right. If you've got a Reader, what are you waiting for?
And spread the word.
And speaking of birthdays... and reviving the
dead... my father, if he were alive, would've been 107 last Friday, December
2. 1904 was a long time ago. He died in 1995. He got to see the 20th century.
Amazing. Daniel, my son, his grandson, gets the 21st century. Equally amazing.
November 1, 2011
Halloween last night. Fun. I dug my Indiana Jones stuff from the closet, Merle was a pirate ( a pirate wench?... Either way, fantastic), and Daniel a gangster. We ordered in pizza for dinner (with lots of red wine), and gave out stuff at the door until we had to close up shop and tell them we were cleaned out. There's a ton of Daniel's candy on the living room floor this morning.
Had Bill and Judy here Saturday evening for dinner and a movie (we had the DVD of Horrible Bosses). Again: fun. The movie is crude, rude and outrageous. I guess that means it was funny too. But it's pretty Adult, so Daniel stayed on his computer games upstairs (and Owen was with him, also watching the Leafs on TV). We all thought of it as good Saturday evening.
Reading student stories today. Hand them back tomorrow.
Got a phone call from my old buddy Tom Potter yesterday. He's getting married in September, 2012. Told me he's bought a freezer with his Intended already. I'm still trying to work out the logistics of it. Nevertheless, it's another thing in this entry that sounds like fun. We'll be there next September to help celebrate.
Still reading Henning Mankell (see entry below). Read 6 so far. This is an endorsement, you know.
Off to Loblaws. Pizza leftovers for lunch.
October 3, 2011
Monday morning. Cold, rainy the last couple of days. Supposed to warm up (and brighten up) later this week.
Merle's off at her annual 3-day departmental retreat, so Daniel and I are just a couple of guys hangin' out. Last night, it was Swiss Chalet take-out for dinner. Merle left us a cherry pie. We ate the whole thing.
Watched the ball game (NL Playoff: Philly vs. St. Louis) in the evening, read in bed. Reading a 3rd novel by a (for me) new discovery. Swedish mystery writer, Henning Mankell. He's a global best-seller, someone whom I've missed somehow up till now. (Trivia: he's married to Ingmar Bergman's daughter.) His series character is a Swedish cop named Kurt Wallander. As mentioned... I've come late to this series, but it's been discovered by lots of others. My optometrist mentioned to me last week that she hadn't read the books (she saw me reading one in the waiting room), but that she was an enthusiastic fan of the mini-series. (New to me that it existed.) Checked on the internet... Kenneth Branagh plays Wallander. The books are in paperback in all the big bookstores, and I've seen his latest in mass market paperback at our local Loblaws. When you crack the supermarket chains, you've arrived.
If it sounds like your cup of tea, check him out. He's good.
Daniel will be home for lunch shortly. Hmmm...
Think I'll zip down to that Loblaws... I've seen those cherry pies there.
I'm sure I have..
September 6, 2011
And the summer is over. Daniel started grade 6 today. Highlight of August was our one-week rental on Coe Island Lake -- our old favorite. We took along a playmate for Daniel (Josh), hosted separate visits by Anne, Alberto, Matteo... Tom and Ulla... Jacquie, Jo-Anne, Bob... Michael and Gina. Good company, good weather, good swimming for the kids, good books to read, good fishing (smallmouths) for me. And a way of celebrating Merle's 50th birthday and our 17th wedding anniversary.
Took some of my brother's (Dennis's) ashes along
with me. On the last Friday (September 2nd), I went alone to Bow Lake --
in the area... where he and I had such great times when we were kids in
the 1950s and early '60s -- and put some of them in the lake.
And for good measure, I then went to another lake which we used to walk
into to fish (the locals called it Stony Lake...there were no roads into
it back then), and put some in there. It felt so right. Felt like I was
bringing him home. Beyond words. (Cf. photo.)
He and I climbed that cliff, and we talked (and laughed) about it, sitting
in his backyard, back in the fall of.2008. One of our perfect places on
August 3, 2011
We rented a cottage on Haley Lake (north of Bancroft, north-east of Maynooth) for a week in July. The attraction was that it was the only cottage on its own private lake. A new idea... Complete wilderness. If this is your thing, it fit the bill. (I saw a moose!). The fishing -- surprisingly -- didn't measure up to what we've experienced in the past, nor was the water exactly what we'd been used to (wild with lily pads and vegetation). The upshot: would we go back? Probably not. Are we glad we went? You bet. Amazing experience. I've attached a couple of photos here.
Visited with old friend Tom Potter at his cottage in the same area. Met his lady, Ulla. She's special in every way. They're a terrific match -- planning on marriage. Had a great family day.
My oldest son, Conor (33) and his lady, Jenn, rented their own cottage this last week in the Bancroft area as well (got there in my venerable 1993 Honda Civic!). Got an email from him yesterday (BlackBerrys in the woods), saying that he'd asked Jenn to marry him, and she'd said Yes. Clearly, there's something (terrific) in that air. We should try to bottle it.
Seriously, though, I was moved by both commitments. My son's avowal in particular has caught me by surprise, emotionally speaking. It's a stunning thing to reflect on the relationship that's emerged and that promises to continue growing. My son. Getting married. I get a lump in the throat.
And I just finished reading Michael Chabon's terrific book of essays, Manhood for Amateurs -- the Pleasures and Regrets of a Husband, Father and Son. I may have read it just in time.
My own Autobiography (posted on the main page of this web site), published originally back in 2003 in Contemporary Authors and subsequently reprinted in the New York Review of Science Fiction, has just seen its 3rd publication (retitled A Valid Life), this time in Australia. Bruce Gillespie reprinted it -- along with a brief Update from 2010 -- in the 40th Anniversary edition of his magazine SF Commentary. There are updated photos as well. Here's the link to the pdf version, online. Scroll down to page 28.
The truth is, my own Autobiog is still a wildly
fluctuating work-in-progress -- as it should be. The Big Adventure continues.
July 5, 2011
Summer's here. Mail strike just ended. Been chucking out garden waste, lopped-down trees and bushes for a month now... I think 18 of those brown recycle-bags have been picked up. Merle bought me a small (electric) chain-saw for Father's Day. Had to use it. (And I'm not sure you can tell the difference. Scary.)
Had a small end-of-the-school-year party at the end of June: Ilias and Michelle and their two (Leander and Milena), and Jim and Jenny (and Tommy). Beautiful evening. Daniel started a 2-week Day Camp yesterday. His buddy, Tommy, is with him. I just picked them up (it's 4:30 PM)... They're down the basement, cruising the digital world, I imagine.
This last month... Read a slew of novels... Among them:
We (my agent and I) were finally able to iron
out the issues and come to an agreement with E-Reads.
Contracts went into the mail yesterday. (Check out the link for their web
site.) The Ashland books rise again. I'll keep you posted.
And more... I'm returning to teach at UWO (University
of Western Ontario) in September. Very pleased.
June 6, 2011
Bathroom reno done. It's beautiful. We deserve it.
Had another mini-reunion this past Saturday evening... Former teaching cronies and friends from my days at East York C.I....Greg, Harry, Gary, Ron and their spouses. Especially good to see Harry again. Been a long time. We had Dave from De La Mer Seafood over to shuck 100 oysters for us in the backyard (every oyster disappeared), followed by Merle's fabulous dinner. The evening started at 6 PM, finished past midnight. Needless to say, Sunday was a day of rest.
Picked up Frederick Forsyth's 1995 novel The Fist of God at Value Village for $2.99 (love those bargains). It's set in 1990-91, during the Gulf War, and written with Saddam Hussein as a character. Given its date (before the Iraq War and Saddam's ultimate demise), it was fascinating. I always enjoy Forsyth -- can't figure out how anyone can know that much about the world of international intrigue, etc. I understand his latest (The Cobra) should be out in paperback any time now. I'll be looking for it.
Also read Chuck Hogan's new novel Devils in Exile (he wrote the novel upon which the Ben Affleck film The Town was based). Very good. He's another one I'll be following.
Still negotiating the contract for eBook rights
to my 3 Ashland novels. There are a few clauses at issue.
Be good to get it completed... But we'll see... Further evidence that nothing
is done until it's done.. Will keep you posted.
May 14, 2011
Bathroom reno almost done (see April 22,below). Looks fabulous. Another week, probably. We're hangin' on.
Had our May 7 get-together: Kaschuks, Kamskis, Wyszkowskis, and Phil Kenny from Vancouver. Wonderful time. All old friends from high school (egad), and all still in there pitching. The years slipped away.
And I'm in the process of contracting with E-Reads
to reissue my trio of novels Shadow of Ashland (1996), A
Witness to Life (1999), and St. Patrick's Bed (2001)
as both trade paperbacks and E-Books. It's another signal event in the
rising of the E-Book phenomenon and the movement to our digital, downloading
world. I'm very pleased, as they certainly deserve new life and new readers.
I'll keep you posted as things get finalized, but you can check out the
site , whose stable of authors includes Harlan Ellison, Dave Duncan, Allan
Dean Foster, Rudy Rucker, Fritz Leiber, Dan Simmons, James Tiptree, Jr.,
April 22, 2011
My UWO teaching stint is finished... until next September, likely (always to be determined). Big todo in our world is the bathroom renovation we're undergoing. It's been gutted. We're living under plastic sheets in our bedroom and using the basement washroom -- which has a shower. We'll survive. (This is major. Bye-bye savings...).
It's Good Friday, so the construction chaos and noise has stopped until Monday -- a brief reprieve.
I've made my annual appointment to see my dermatologist and get things cleaned up (I've got sun damage from those years when nobody knew any better), and it's been 2 years since I've been to the optometrist, so that's due too. Got my taxes done and mailed. I guess, all in all, it's tune-up time. Must be Spring.
Bought 3 of James Lee Burke's novels within the last 2 weeks. I think I've read 25 of them (did a quick count of the paperbacks on the shelf in my garage when I put them away). He's terrific. Just finished an old one of his this morning, sitting under a blanket on the green love-seat in our living room, coffee at hand. 1993's In the Electric Mist with Confederate Dead is as good as any of them, and better than most. Loved it. If you think the title's a bit clunky (and I do), ignore it. It's the story and the telling of the story that count. Transcends the genre.
And oh, yes... The government sent me the Old
Age Pension application (already! 65 is 9 months away!), and I filled it
in and sent it off. I can use it all. That bathroom, remember?...
March 28, 2011
Hovering on the edge of Spring.
Conor and Jenn off to Halifax to work in a new play. We're bunny-sitting her bunny. You think things in your life are strange. Check out a rabbit in a cage. Now that's a weird life.
2 more classes at UWO to go. We spent a couple of days in London (Ontario) during the March Break. St. Pat's Day at Western is always something to behold. They take it very seriously (unseriously?) there. Like Halloween.
Re-read Paul Theroux'a My Secret Life and Miller's A Canticle for Leibowitz in the last few weeks. Both hold up beautifully (again!). I never thought I'd re-read novels, but the thing is, after so many years, all one tends to remember (except for a few specific scenes or lines or details) is whether one liked the book or not. I'm discovering that I've got lots of books to read on my shelves that are almost like new. Likely, this says far too much about my own advancing years. (Yikes). Nevertheless, there it is.
Daniel's current obsession is playing Minecraft online with his friends. I have no idea what's going on. Watching them play is almost like watching the bunny. I don't get it. Texting, wi-fi, apps... The cyberworld is everywhere.
Speaking of which... I understand that Sailing Time's Ocean is in the pipeline to appear as an EBook. And there's been preliminary discussion about my Ashland trilogy following suit. The NY Times now has an EBook Bestseller list. And I see where Borders Bookstore chain (3rd largest in the States) has filed for bankruptcy, as has HB Fenn, Canada's largest book distributor. The industry is changing, morphing, and where we're going nobody knows. Poor Gutenberg.
February 18, 2011
Celebrated my birthday on February 2nd (Merle brought home 2 dozen freshly shucked oysters, smoked salmon, a bottle of chardonnay), Valentine's Day on the 14th (more oysters, more everything), and my son Owen's 30th birthday last night (Conor and Jenn came to mark the occasion).The revelry has subsided for a bit (my son, Conor's 33rd in a few weeks though...).
I got Robert Crais's The Sentry and Lee Child's Worth Dying For for my birthday, and have finished them both. Great fun. Recommend them both.
Family Day Monday, and UWO Reading Week all next week... The weather's breaking, slightly. Inspired me to book a cottage for a week this summer.
January 23, 2011
Went to my friend Bill Kaschuk's 65th birthday party yesterday. I've known Bill since high school. Astonishing. And my friend Chester Kamski turned 64 a week or so ago, and my 64th is on the horizon. 64... 65... This is getting serious.
To balance things... I'm going skating this afternoon. I can still cut a swath on the ice.
Saw The Social Network and The King's Speech over the last 2 weeks. Found the former interesting and informative, but it never hooked me emotionally. Didn't like any of the characters. Thought The King's Speech, however, was a wonderful movie. Engaging, affecting, informative, stunningly well acted. Likely the best movie of the year. Might pick up the book.
Finished Philip Roth's Nemesis. It's set in New Jersey in 1944, at the height of the local polio epidemic. I was in grade school when the Salk vaccine was administered to us all in the halls of St. Monica's, circa 1955, so never really saw or experienced what I was reading about. But the novel drove home to me how I'd just skirted the end of an era that had been with us forever. Intrigued me so much I Googled information about the disease. Lots to reflect on.
And one of my creative writing students from last
year got one of the pieces she wrote for my class published. This is what
makes a teacher's day. I'm delighted. If interested, here's a link.
January 7, 2011
And now it's 2011.
Finished the Heinlein biography (mentioned below). Interesting. He was a bizarre (but powerful) character. This was Volume 1... 1907-1948. There'll be a Volume 2... 1948-1988. I look forward to it. Maybe next Christmas.
Picked up a new biography, Raymond Carver: A Writer's Life, by Carol Sklenicka. Pretty hypnotic. Carver was a truly great writer whose life was mostly a disaster -- largely of his own doing . Casts his writing in a fascinating light. It runs about 500 pages. I'm past 400 already. I'll likely revisit both Heinlein's and Carver's fiction, with these new backgrounds.
Biographical and autobiographical writing has always interested me, but even more so as I slipslide along in years myself. How do others live? How am I living? Reference points... I think we need 'em.
Had my first class at Western 2 days ago. Looking good. And there looks to be something brewing with regard to my Ashland trilogy of novels. The world of E-Books has beckoned, and I've been presented with a real possibility. The downloaded/uploaded world hovers. It's the new literary horizon.
Will keep you posted.
December 26, 2010
Been a bit of time since my last entry. It happens. Busy... Lazy... Preoccupied... All of the above.
Christmas barreled into (and out of) town, and I was wrapped up finishing my writing class at UWO. In fact, this last item took on a curious resonance and busy-ness due to the weather. It snowed in record proportions in London (most in more than 30 years) and southwestern Ontario the first couple of weeks of December (over 100 cm -- more than 3 feet for the non-metric crowd) and it virtually shut down the city of some 350,000 people. The University of Western Ontario was closed. My last class (December 8) was cancelled. Final assignments had to be submitted via email attachments, and final student grades submitted a week later (also by email attachment). The correspondence involved in this took up the first part of the month. The second part was consumed by the approach of Xmas, and everything that entails.
Today, in the aftermath, I can sit back and think a bit more clearly. Sure.
Not sure where to start. But I always list the books I got, and here they are (all personal requests): The new Robert A. Heinlein biography (Part I), Michael Connelly's Reversal, and Philip Roth's Nemesis. Daniel got computer games mostly, and a Kobo E-Reader (have we gone over to The Dark Side?... I got one for Conor and Owen as well. We'll see where this all leads.) Conor was out in New Brunswick, working on a play, and spent Xmas with his girlfriend's family out there. Owen came Xmas eve and stayed over, being here when presents were opened the next morning.
I could list the mundane items of the past month or so... new starter motor for the Honda, flat tire on the Toyota, travel disruptions to and from London, Daniel's birthday, his latest chest infection (he's on antibiotics), etc... But you've got your stories like these too. We had dinner at Peter and Theresa's December 23, and that was a pleasant, stimulating evening.
And so it goes.
Got 2 new TV sets for the house (from Santa). They're still in boxes downstairs. I start back at UWO in January.
(Heard this morning that 84-year-old publishing mogul--and modern legend--Hugh Hefner got engaged to a 24-year-old Playmate. Makes my life sound simple!)
Got to get organized though. Wish me luck!
November 8, 2010
Re-reading George R. Stewart's 1949 novel Earth Abides. Read it first when I was a teenager, and once since. I've still got the old 50-cent Ace paperback. It, like the story itself, has held up. It's a post-holocaust novel, in which the holocaust is a plague that decimates the planet. Stewart (1895-1980) was a professor of English at University of California, Berkeley, and the book is, accordingly, literate, intelligent, provocative... Compelling reading. Highly recommended. An undeservedly overlooked book.
Also re-read Jack Williamson's autobiography, Wonder's Child. Very well written and enjoyable. A remarkable man. He lived to be 98 (1908-2006). I met him once -- 25 years ago, at a conference in Tucson, Arizona. I recall telling him then that I was great admirer of his. I'm glad I got to tell him. That brief meeting was in my mind often as I read.
Halloween has come and gone. Daniel was a hobo this year; his big brother, Owen, came up to the house to take him out. And yesterday was Picture Day for Daniel's hockey team. We're waitin' to see the glitzy results. Great fun. (Bought -- finally -- new skates for myself last week, in time for Family Skate Day yesterday, organized by the folks at Daniel's school. I'm still belying my 63-year-old body. Skating was a blast. Made me want to hold a hockey stick, carry a puck... *Sigh*...).
According to the publisher, there were 798
free eBook downloads of my novel, Barking Dogs, during its
Free Download Month (October). That's about 25/day.. One every hour....
The shape of publishing continues to fascinate...
October 19, 2010
Interesting turn of events...
Barking Dogs is going to have a new cover image.
The publisher (ArcManor) came to the conclusion that the image on the cover too closely resembled one of the Halo characters (this was mentioned to us several times, and we finally began to take a harder look ourselves... We're the wrong demographic and wouldn't know a Halo Guy if we fell over him). Cover images are purchased from an online media distribution site which guarantees copyright. The publisher has contacted the distributor and will try to recoup his losses, but the suspicion is that a wall of lawyers will likely appear. But this is neither here nor there as far as my involvement, merely another of many bizarre detours in a book's gestation -- especially in the age of the Internet. We don't need the hassle. And the world is rife with suitable images.
We've chosen a similar concept. Here's a rough
scan (below, left).
(Goodbye! Now a collector's item...)
October 3, 2010
Phoenix Pick is making Barking Dogs its Free eBook for October, 2010 (the promotion lasts until October 31). This is a great opportunity for those fans and readers, who, unlike me, are ahead of the curve in the 21st century, and have an eReader of some ilk (Kindle, etc.). My friend (and fellow author) Rob Sawyer told me at last week's Word on the Street that he'd finally joined the fray and had just purchased the new Kindle Reader, and that this 3rd incarnation of the technology was, in his opinion, the best available. I'm sure I'll have to step up to the bar eventually. It's called The Future.... Only it's now, apparently, The Present.
You can find the coupon and download site at this link: http://phoenixpick.com/957392182342112/validator.htm. The coupon number needed is 9991566.
The promotion offer is being announced on several web sites, such as the October 2 entry at SF Signal. Further instructions and information, if desired, can be found at http://www.ppickings.com.
September 27, 2010
Yesterday (Sunday) was Toronto's annual Word on the Street Festival. As usual, Rob Sawyer and I manned the SFWA table there for the day and had the kind of fun we have every year, just talking with folks and getting our books into their hands. Weather was brisk, but good... Crowd perhaps down a bit from last year... This year, my biggest seller, as expected, was the new reissue of Barking Dogs. Interestingly, Shadow of Ashland and Sailing Time's Ocean did well too.
Afterward, I hustled home to take Daniel to play his first hockey game at Leaside Arena as a member of the Leaside Landscaping team. (I gotta get a picture of him in his uniform and equipment. Priceless.) They lost 3-0. He told me he had fun and can hardly wait for next week. I guess that's called a success.
Owen for dinner Saturday, along with my nephew Patrick and his wife, Gloria. Merle cooked up a rib feast.
Finished reading Chuck Hogan's The Town(originally
published as Prince of Thieves... reissued under the title of the
new film just out, starring Ben Affleck). I was impressed... enjoyed it.
Was thinking about seeing the film (reason for picking it up), and now
I think I will. Have just purchased Stephen Hunter's new Bob Lee Swagger
book, I, Sniper. I'm a big fan. Don't know how I can't like
it. What faith...
September 8, 2010
School started here in Ontario yesterday. Daniel's off to Grade 5. And he's walking to-and-from part-way by himself. It's a big step. It was a terrifically hot (and humid) summer. I think I burned out one of my air conditioners. There's a repairman replacing it right now. I think he's planning his vacation with the expected fee.
We rented a cottage on Coe Island Lake near Bancroft,
Ontario, for the first week of August. Beautiful. Caught more than 40 smallmouth
bass, without too much effort. And in mid-August, we flew to Nova Scotia
to attend Pat and Jackie's 50th wedding anniversary -- a great excuse to
get Down East for a few days. A couple of summer photos. (Click to enlarge).
Coe Island Lake
Nova Scotia beach
Finally got around to reading Stieg Larsson's Millennium
trilogy -- The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played With
Fire, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest. Terrific stuff. Highly
recommended! Larsson died in 2004 at age 50 of a heart attack. He'll never
know what success his books had -- 27 million sold at last count. Top 3
places on the NY Times Bestseller list. Thought I'd see what all the fuss
was about. This time, it was merited -- a rare situation (take that,
August 28, 2010
Barking Dogs was featured in today's New in Paperback column in the Globe and Mail. Very neat! Check it out.
August 17, 2010
I'll update in more detail at a later date (soon).
Just wanted to announce the publication of the reissue of Barking Dogs. I've got copies, and it's in the online bookstores now.
Amazon.com has the "Look Inside" feature. Amazon.caand Barnes and Noble are 2 others where it's available. I'm also listing Smashwords as a spot where it's easily available as an E-book for a variety off E-book readers (Kindle, etc.).
And it looks great!
Have fun with the above links.
August 9, 2010
Had computer problems of late. Corrupted files, etc. Took it in and straightened things out, but some collateral damage: lost some useful data. I lost my Email Address Book, and the only Saved Messages and Sent Messages I've retained are those within the last 30 days or so.
If you were in my Address Book and would like to be logged back into it, please send me an email. I've lost a lot of contacts that I value immensely, and in many cases will have to wait for them to contact me. (Example: Phil, in Vancouver... Email me!)
July 22, 2010
Thought I'd take the time to talk about 2 things
1 - The updating of a near-future SF novel.
2 - The arrival of the e-book in our culture.
1 - As I've mentioned previously on this site, my novel, Barking Dogs, is being reissued (given new life!) this summer. Naturally, I'm very pleased. Originally, it was published in 1988 by St. Martin's Press (New York). Being a "near-future" cop/SF thriller, it was set in 1999. (Once upon a time, that was the near future.) Alas, now... Well... You see the dilemma. It happened to George Orwell. He wrote 1984 in 1948, and guess what? Happened to others too... Philip K. Dick published Martian Time-Slip in 1964. It's set in 1994. His Dr. Bloodmoney was published in 1965, and talks about the "future" years 1981 and 1988.
In all these cases, one can argue that it's irrelevant when they are set, because they're really commentaries on the present, seen through a different lens. And they still do read vividly and powerfully today, because they are not trying to predict the future, but rather create an interesting and provocative milieu against which to stage an imaginative drama that benefits from speculation on the future politics/culture/technology trends that one can see coming "just down the line." Giving them specific "future" dates is one way of doing this. It can intrigue a reader. (This is not a problem in "far-future" SF stories. A story set in 2215, or 3851 is exempt from all this. Yes, it will be a problem in 2215 or 3851; but seriously, whose problem is it? We, dear readers, needn't worry about it.)
But another way of doing it is not to give specific dates. By avoiding dates, the "near-future" scenario can always be "just down the road"... maybe 10 or 20 years from whenever the reader is reading the story. In other words, this avoids the story being "dated" -- literally.
I did this when I wrote the sequel to Barking Dogs (Blue Limbo, published 1997). My editor (David Hartwell) saw the potential problem and suggested leaving out the dates. I think he was right. It's held up nicely. It's undated -- always a vague near-future.
I've chosen to do this (retroactively) with Barking Dogs. The 2010 reissue differs from the 1988 original in that there are no specific dates. I went through the book and eliminated/updated everything. It's now in the same unstated "near-future" Toronto as Blue Limbo, and I think it's a stronger book because of it.
2 - I'm a Book Guy. I love the feel, heft, cover design and packaging of a book. But I also grew up in the latter half of the 20th century, and I'm inevitably a part of the culture that surrounded me and helped form me.
I've said it before, and I'll repeat it here: the Internet has changed everything.
I've been sceptical about e-books ever since their appearance on the scene a decade or so ago. Who, I wondered, would want to read in such a fashion?
Turns out that lots of young people do. They are the Internet Generation. They like those gadgets. iPhones, iPads. They like pressing those buttons, looking at those screens, downloading, customizing. (Twittering!) They like having 1500 books in their pocket, just like they enjoy having 6000 songs on their iPods. I have a hunch my youngest son will be a part of that culture. He's certainly a Child of the Internet. And therein lies the explanation, I believe, behind the article I read today (on the Internet!) that claims Amazon.com sold 3 times as many Kindle Readers (e-book readers, for the uninitiated) as they did hardcover books last year.
And as an addendum to the above... I received a small royalty cheque for Blue Limbo last week. The statement that accompanied it is now divided into 3 sections, 2 of which are "Total US Paper" and "Total Electronic." This last is new.
I invite you to visit the book publisher's web site, Phoenix Pick . They have titles by Marion Zimmer Bradley, Frank Herbert, John W. Campbell, Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, James Hogan, Nancy Kress, Andre Norton, Poul Anderson, etc... and Green. You will see noted there (check out the following links), beside my book (Blue Limbo), the $US cost of the book in Paper (7.99), Kindle (5.99), Smashwords (multiple ebook formats, 5.99) and PDF download (4.79). They are all competitive. They are all eminently, achingly affordable. And Barking Dogs will be joining this new world of publishing.
I know I'd choose the Paper option. According
to that royalty statement, most still do. But speaking of "near-future"
scenarios, I have a feeling many others, younger, "techier", who see and
experience a different world than I do, might not... And Real
July 16, 2010
Saw the film Predators. Skip it.
Read the 1971 novel The Day of the Jackal (finally... I'd seen the movie... Hasn't everyone?). It's a superb book of its type. Recommended. (My son, Owen, is coming over tonight. We're going to watch the movie. Again.)
Watching Mad Men episodes on DVD. They're terrific too. Incredible stuff. The 60s were truly awful when seen through this lens.
Had lunch at Tim Hortons 2 days ago with a friend and old student of mine from 20 years ago. Dylan Simpson was in my Writer's Craft class at East York C.I. back in 1990-91. Our paths have crossed intermittently over the years, and for the past 7-and-a-half years he's been teaching English in Taiwan. It was a great -- to catch up, reminisce, see what ravages time has wrought on both of us. One of the fine things about a teaching career is certainly occasions like this.
I've seen the jacket and cover for the upcoming 2010 reissue of Barking Dogs. I think it's great. Have a look for yourself (click on the link).
Summer's flying by. Slipping through my fingers. Daniel finishes one of his day-camps today (Friday) and starts another on Monday. What a life!
June 30, 2010
My son, Conor, wrote a play for the Toronto FRINGE Theatre Festival, and it opens tonight. It's only occurred to me now that I should mention it, as there may be interest out there. Also, I'm pretty proud. You would be too. It's called The Nile(click on link), and here's a brief excerpt from an interview he did which tells a bit more (http://www.mooneyontheatre.com/2010/06/fringe-preview-the-nile/.
We saw Toy Story 3. Great movie. Highly recommended. The 3 films together (1995, 1999, 2010) constitute a truly remarkable achievement, a wonderful trilogy, deserving of their acclaim.
Read the Scott Turow novel Innocent, sequel to his 1987 Presumed Innocent. He's a terrific writer and these ar terrific stories. Another big Two Thumbs Up.
Had a very rare Toronto occurrence last week: a 5.0 scale earthquake. The house shook. I didn't like it. One of these every 50 to 100 years is plenty.
Summer's officially here. School's out. Tomorrow is July 1st. I've agreed to teach a creative writing course at The University of Western Ontario again the is Fall, and another in the Winter term (January to April, 2011).
It's a great day outside. Gotta go!
May 25, 2010
Canada's long (Victoria Day) weekend just over (it's Tuesday morning), and it was one to treasure, weather-wise. More like mid-summer: cloudless sun, hot, lush. Spontaneous dinner at Kevin and Vicki's (and their boys) last night -- rainbow trout, barbecued on cedar planks, on the back deck. Had my motorcycle out in the afternoon. It was so warm on it, the wind was sensuous... And it's gonna stay like this for the next three days, according to the forecasts. Bring it on.
Saw there was a sequel to Scott Turow's 1987 novel Presumed Innocent (titled simply Innocent) on the stands. It's gotten good reviews, so I plucked the original off my shelf, which I last read 23 years ago, and re-read it. Simply, it's terrific. Perhaps the best book of its kind (trial/mystery/literary) that I've read. If you haven't read it, missed it somehow, read it. Turow hasn't topped it since. I'm looking forward to the sequel, hoping it measures up. It's a tall order.
And I read John McGahern's Memoir. Again: terrific. Moving. Reminds me of reading Steinbeck, someone of his ilk. Reading his story collection now. McGahern is a somewhat hidden gem.
Merle, Daniel and I saw Robin Hood (the Russell Crowe version) on the weekend. Enjoyed it. I'm big on kids knowing the iconic figures (Robin Hood, Sherlock Holmes, Tarzan, Superman, Batman, etc.), figuring these are reference points in our culture. (I mean, you've gotta know who Little John and Friar Tuck and Maid Marian are or there's a ton of stuff just slidin' over your head). I guess Iron Man 2 is next.
It'll be the real summer before we know it. Daniel's booked into 2 weeks of tennis camp, a week of baseball camp, a week of I-Camp (computer camp), and we've got a rented cottage for a week as well. That's 5 of the 9 weeks spoken for.
Jeez. Gotta go earn some money to pay for it all
now. Talk to you later.
May 12, 2010
*Book Critic Day*
Books read in the last few weeks... Usually one or two a week... (Hey... I like to read):
Last Night in Twisted River (John
Telegraph Days (Larry McMurtry)
Bundy: The Deliberate Stranger (Richard W. Larsen)
Girl Crazy (Russell Smith)
The Leavetaking (John McGahern)
Black Water (T. Jefferson Parker)
Fugitive (Philip Margolin)
The Winds of Time (Chad Oliver)
Thumbnail reviews of above:
Irving: Bizarre. Hard to get into. Compulsive
in the middle. All Irving's standard themes and obsessions and crazy plotlines.
Read if you like Irving . His best for me are still Garp,
Meany and A Widow for One Year.
McMurtry: Picked this one up as a 4.99 remainder. I like McMurtry. This one was middling McMurtry. His best still (for me): Lonesome Dove, Commanche Moon, Streets of Laredo.
Larsen: Came across this paperback among the books shelved in my garage. According to its date, I read it 17 years ago, near the height of the Bundy era. Re-read it in light of the craziness going on right now in Ontario involving Colonel Russell Williams, the serial killer whom none of us can believe was among us. Compelling, for many reasons.
Smith: Read the local reviews of this one and went out and bought it. Very readable, very well-written. Didn't much like any of the characters, but found it memorable and worth reading. A Toronto novel, with lots of local colour. About young people (in their 30s). I felt like I was looking in on another world.
McGahern: Great Irish novelist. Should have won the Booker or the Nobel or some damn thing for his body of work. Bought this one for 1.99 at Value Village (found among the cast-offs). This is a Book. Very impressive.
Parker: California based writer -- one of the best in the cop/thriller genre. I enjoyed this one, and was impressed. Fun, thoughtful. Good characterizations.
Margolin: Never read one of his books before. Doubt I'll read any more of them. Picked up on a whim from the bestseller paperback rack at Indigo last Saturday, finished it last night (Tuesday). Was hoping I'd discover another writer like Parker (above), but this one isn't anywhere near him. More like the Hardy Boys for adults. Much like James Patterson (or even Dan Brown). Verdict: give it a miss.
Oliver: Chad Oliver was one of my favorite writers when I was a boy. I first read this one when I was 12 years old. Since then, I've re-read it two or three more times, and I always get something out of it -- as well as lots of nostalgia. Oliver died in 1993. He was head of the Anthropology Department at the University of Texas in Austin. This is a prototypical 1950s SF novel, infused with his knowledge of anthropology and his ability to evoke a sense of wonder (and a bit of corn). It's also like entering a time capsule for the 1950s. And I really love his opening chapter when the main character goes trout fishing in Colorado. Pure poetry.
Picked up 2 other books at Value Village when I hauled in McGahern's The Leavetaking. Got Avery Corman's The Perfect Divorce (he's the Kramer Vs. Kramer author) and Joyce Carol Oates's Blonde (the novel based on Monroe... Oates will know how to give this topic a literary spin. I've had my eye on it before, but when I saw it at the 4.99 price, I knew it was a no-brainer.) And I've placed an order on Amazon.com for McGahern's Memoir and his short story collection. Want to keep those books comin' in, replenishing the stockpile. I don't like it when I have nothing "next."
Reading like this is a kind of paradise. I had to wait all these years for the lifestyle that lets me do it.
Mother's Day was great. Breakfast at the Grenadier Restaurant in High Park, dinner at East Side Mario's. Daniel's play Annie (last week) was a blast. Had a good long chat with old friend Tom Potter, who eschewed email and just picked up the phone in Ottawa. And I've been over the final typeset draft of my 1988 novel Barking Dogs, updating some of it, which is set for re-release mid-summer. (Don't worry... I'll keep you posted about it.)
April 19, 2010
25,000 people have visited this web site over the past decade. Depending on where you're standing, or what you're comparing it to, that's either a lot or not so many. I choose to think it's quite a lot... of folks, wandering through cyberspace, dropping in by chance or design. The internet, as I've noted previously, has changed the world. The latest stat I've seen indicates that people are now spending more time on the internet than watching TV (who'd have thought that was a possibility a decade ago?) The world at our fingertips...
My teaching (at the University of Western Ontario) finished for the term 12 days ago. Since then, I've attended a Blue Jays game to see Daniel and his school choir sing the national anthems down on the playing field (and watch Ricky Romero one-hit the White Sox), burned through Lee Child's latest novel (Gone Tomorrow), thrown my back out, bringing on my recurrent sciatica (and Advil doses), made yet another funeral visitation (this time to former teaching colleague, Craig Murphy, who, at 67 years of age, didn't get to enjoy much of his pension), and have spent the past few days stumbling through my income tax labyrinth -- which I think I finished just this morning. Now I send it off to them and they eventually send it back, telling me what I did wrong. It's an annual ritual.
Re-reading Russell Smith's story collection Young Men, with a view to possible use next fall in one of the courses I teach. They're responding somewhat tepidly to Alice Munro's stories; I think I need something with younger characters and more modern/urban concerns. This might do the trick. Good stuff. Compulsive. Au courant.
Had a beer with old EYCI colleagues Ron Whiteside,
Brian Keaveney and Greg Hughes after our group visitation to see our old
crony Murph (funeral, above). Consensus: we're disappearing much
too fast. Who do we contact about this ridiculous state of affairs?
March 28, 2010
Eight days ago (March 20), while my mind was filled with what was going on with Michael (see March 21 & 14 entries below), a note dropped into my email Inbox from an old high school friend whom I haven't see for 46 years. Phil Kenny and I were pretty good friends (make that very good) from 1959-1964, while we attended St. Michael's College School here in Toronto. Locker mates even. Like so many other things (and people) in life, we somehow (immaturity, distraction), lost contact and our lives got in the way, and that seemed to be that.
And forty-six years passed.
When the internet arrived (Jeez... I've only been online since 1997), literally changing the world, making so much available at one's fingertips, I did give it a bit of a shot (who hasn't done this... You know... typed in someone's name whom you used to know, try to see if it leads anywhere...), but came up empty. There are a lot of Phil Kennys out there. Phil, at his end, apparently did the same thing, but because I have a bit of a public profile as a writer, he hit on my web site and my email link, and voila!
He's in Vancouver, married since 1973, father of 2 grown daughters, and now retired. I'm thrilled to have found him. Life is too short, as I've been shown so rudely these past 2 years.
All those people out there, shadows, whom we once knew, who were once a real part of our lives...
Holden Caulfield, at the end of The Catcher in the Rye: "I sort of miss everybody I told about. Even old Stradlater and Ackley, for instance. I think I even miss that goddam Maurice. It's funny. Don't ever tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody."
Welcome back, Phil. The past is a country we can
visit, if we're lucky. I think we've been damned lucky.
March 21, 2010
The clan gathered (see March 14 entry below). And friends. More than 150. The funeral home was overflowing... Not enough chairs. Six speakers, followed by myself. I tried to express what was happening, how we felt, as did the others. It doesn't matter what you say... It never seems to be enough, or clear, or befitting. In fact, it's always an impossible task, to say That was His Life, That was Him, It's Over, We're stunned. What happened?
Used the lyrics from the Canadian rock band Trooper's classic We're Here for a Good Time, Not a Long Time as a poetic anthem for Michael. They said it with a certain melancholy flair that seemed perfect:
A very good friend of mine
Told me something the other day
I'd like to pass it on to you
Cause I believe what he said to be true
We're here for a good time
Not a long time (not a long time)
So have a good time
The sun can't shine every day
And the sun is shinin'
In this rainy city
And the sun is shinin'
Oooooh, isn't it a pity
And every year, has its share of tears
And every now and then it's gotta rain
We're here for a good time
Not a long time
So have a good time
The sun can't shine every day
March 14, 2010
Four months ago (see November 2009 entries) my older sister Anne died. Three days ago, Michael, her oldest son, my nephew, died. He was 57 (my sister was 17 years older than me). The autopsy result was "heart disease" -- he had an enlarged heart. He died in his bed, in his sleep. There will be a service at the Sherrin Funeral Home in Toronto on Saturday, March 20.
Again, as a family, we're stunned. We've been hit with what feels like a tsunami of deaths (Ellen, Dennis, Anne, Michael, Merle's mother), all within the last 2 years. No rhyme or reason... No sense to any of it.
Watched The Curious Case of Benjamin Button on DVD last night. A man is born old, grows young, then dies. Based on a story by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Echoes all round of the last line of his novel, The Great Gatsby: "So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past."
Michael, a bachelor, had no family of his own. But he was and is Family, and will not be forgotten.
March 8, 2010
Spring weather teasing us. Sunny, pleasant the last few days. Owen here last night to watch the Academy Awards. Thought Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin were pretty funny (or perhaps it was the wine), but the show was its usual train-wreck of nonsense and long-drawn-out over-seriousness. Viewing Hollywooders is always somewhat interesting, as it is, after all, the most dysfunctional, disjointed community on the planet, with its abundance of unmerited entitlement and wealth. (How's that for an editorial?) Tom Hanks ended it abruptly, as he should have, likley feeling as we all did. I haven't see The Hurt Locker, but then I'm not alone. It would appear that no one else has either. I read this morning that it's the smallest grossing film in the past 43 years to win.
Last Friday was a P.A. Day for the schools, so Daniel was off. Merle and I took him to see the new Johnny Depp Alice in Wonderland in 3-D. It was a good movie and we enjoyed ourselves. Still not sure I get the fascination with 3-D. I think I'm too old to get excited about it. (Is that possible?) Seems a bit unnecessary, but if you were going to pick a film to be in 3-D, this was a logical choice, given its essential surreal nature. Just as good (maybe better) was dinner at East Side Mario's afterward.
Finished the Anne Tyler novel, Noah's Compass. Easy reading, very good. About a retired 61-year-old teacher, whose family situation is post-modernly complex, as are all his satellite relationships. (Sound familiar?)
Conor was here for his birthday. He's 32. (Click on photo below to enlarge).
February 17, 2010
My birthday, Valentine's Day, and now Owen's birthday, all in the last 2 weeks. Busy. And Conor's birthday coming up in early March.
It's Reading Week at the universities, so I'm not back at Western until the 24th. A nice break, And for (Ontario's) Family Day (Monday, the 15th), we went to see Avatar. Tried to book the IMAX experience, but still couldn't get tickets, so we settled for the standard 3-D showing. Conclusion: it's a must-see, just as a pop-cultural experience. If that guy (director/writer/producer) Cameron ever masters characterization to go along with his technical mastery, he'll be really somethin'. Again -- good fun. Watched District 9 on DVD last Saturday, and it's also a must-see, for different reasons. Both of them show how far science fiction film has come in the last 50 years (The Blob, anyone?). Simply: it's arrived. Technology has caught up with the imagination.
Reading Michael Connelly's The Scarecrow. Jeez...Can't put it down.
Owen was here for his 29th birthday last night, along with Conor and Jenn (and of course, Merle, myself and Daniel). Fun. We watched the Canadian hockey team beat Norway 8-0. (Conor and Owen in the photo below.... Click to enlarge).
January 18, 2010
So let's see... What's new...
Lost my cell phone. It's joined that vast, chirping and vibrating sea of electronic detritus that lies waiting for future generations, perhaps to be unearthed during an archaeological dig. I'd like to leave a message on it, but when I call, it says it's not currently in service. So I bought a new one, and the trauma has abated. Insisted on the simplest model -- no camera, no text messaging keyboard, almost no Features. Just a phone. (Am I a dying breed, or what?)
Just wrote a cheque for Daniel (grade 4) to join the after-school Chess 'n' Math club. The info claims chess is being used as a new approach to teaching math, with more than 130,000 kids in Canada learning chess as part of their regular curriculum. So we'll see. At the least, he should have fun. His buddy Tommy is signed up too.
Conor and Jenn were here for New Year's Eve, and we were joined spontaneously (a long story) by Kevin and Vicki (parents of Ethan and Matty, who go to school with Daniel) for a snow crab feast. A very good time. Conor and Jenn are off in Egypt as I write this, and we're bunny-sitting (Jenn has had the dwarf bunny for 8 years). The bunny mostly just sits in its cage. Can't figure it. What a life (makes Daniel's guppies look like an excellent choice).
My 1993 Honda Civic needed a frightening amount of work done on it (mostly associated with the brakes), but it's back and humming, and I've got that naive optimism about it back. I drove it down to London (Ontario) for my first class at Western (University of Western Ontario) at the beginning of January, and it was smooth sailing. Last week, I took the train, and I think I'm gonna stick with it for the term. Winter can be fickle. The class is capped at 26 students, and it was full. I'm gonna be busy.
Finished Connelly's 9 Dragons and Roth's The Humbling (see Dec 28 entry below). Some 200 pages or so into the Trudeau Bio. Very impressed with the biographer's (John English's) work. Unbelievable research, scholarship and detail.
Anybody out there seen last year's 3:10 to Yuma? (Owen brought the DVD up to the house, and we all watched it). Thought it was great.
And finally: a tiny royalty cheque showed up in
the mail for Blue Limbo. Can't decide if I'll use the windfall
for lunch at Harvey's or Tim Hortons...
December 28, 2009
Santa brought a full sleigh-load... Among the treasures, a PS3 set-up for Daniel... The gaming world is thriving, largely due to our unfailing support, it would appear. The floor was littered with torn wrapping paper and the eyes of a 9-year-old sparkled -- and that's all that really counts, right? Bonus: Owen took Daniel to see Avatar on the afternoon of the 24th, and stayed overnight here to be with us Christmas morning. He showered Daniel with more stuff -- games, books, GI Joe figures and a GI Joe set.... A pleasure to watch unfold. (Conor was off in New Brunswick, this year, visiting Jenn's family... He'll be back for New Year's Eve.)
I asked Santa for the bio of Trudeau (Just
Watch Me) and the new Michael Connelley novel, (9 Dragons)
and got 'em both.
Also got the latest Philip Roth (The Humbling) and a couple of neat hockey books. And those Lindt/Lindor chocolates... Jeez... Is there anything more incredible?
Watched movies, played Monopoly City (new version of the old standard... not sure I'm up to it) last night, cleaned out a lot of the basement and took it to Goodwill, and it's only Tuesday morning. Got another week. Next: the garage to straighten out... or those books to read? Hmmm...
And this last week: head still filled with thoughts
of Anne, and the mystery of life, death, family... But even more so, interestingly,
as time passes, with memories of Christmases growing up at Maxwell Avenue,
when Dennis and I were kids, Mom and Dad, smiling, being the best they
could be, and how good it was -- astonished at the power of the memories
-- wishing they were all here.
December 10, 2009
Yesterday was the end of my classes at Western (University of Western Ontario).Two good groups. I'll miss them. The final assignments are in. I'll be busy reading them over the next week.
Writing 2211 (Fundamentals of Creative Writing) was a lovely small class of 11 students... Writing 2295 (Creative Writing: The Short Story)was twice the size (23), but wonderful in its own way. I consider myself fortunate to have spent time with them all. For fun, and for memories, here are a few photos (click to enlarge):
On another note... My sister Anne's ashes will be interred this Saturday
afternoon, December 12 (see November 10 and November 13
entries below). Still hard to believe.
November 13, 2009
The get-together and service for Anne (see November 10 entry, below) was yesterday. She was cremated. Family, friends, neighbours... All gathered. I had the chance to say a few words publicly, as did her son, Michael. We did our best to describe her remarkable personality and presence in all our lives.
A few photos, spanning a life, in tribute (click on each to enlarge):
November 10, 2009
My sister Anne died November 7, at her home here in Toronto. She was 79.
This has been a strange, grim year. If you're a regular reader of this page, you know that almost a year ago, my brother Dennis died. (And in March of this year, Merle's mother died). It's all made me feel kind of "quiet" inside. Certainly reflective, as you can imagine. Perhaps even a bit stunned. Life is here, then gone.
Anne was my older sister. In fact, she was 17 years older. My mother had 5 of us, spread across 19 years -- her first (Anne) at age 20, the last (Dennis) at age 39. In between there was Ron, Judy and myself (Ron died in 1993). It was a different time, a different culture, with far different values. We all grew up in the same house, with cousins, grandparents abounding.
There's just Judy and I left (and my cousin Jacquie, who grew up with us). I'm still trying to get my head around this.
Anne had 4 children: Michael, Ellen, Ron and Patrick. I spent Sunday afternoon at the funeral parlour with her 3 sons, making arrangements. (Her daughter, Ellen, died of cancer in 2008). Anne asked me -- more than a decade ago -- to be her executor, as I was for our Dad, and I'm immersed in the paper minutiae of her life as I write this.
She was an exuberant lady, selfless, a Mother first and foremost, full of life, a powerful presence. There was no one like her. She'll be profoundly missed by all of us.
I wanted to note her passing here. A small thing,
but something I wanted -- and needed -- to do.
November 1, 2009
Halloween last night. A windy fall evening. Big brother Owen came over to take Daniel (almost 9-years-old) trick-or-treating. Daniel came home with a sack of candy, emptied it on the living-room floor and counted over 200 pieces. (Now that's scary.) We kidded him that he should weigh it, so he did. Stuffed it all back in the bag and took it up to the bathroom scale. The answer: 10 pounds. (Scarier?)
He was exhausted. Owen said that it was no wonder -- running around with a 10-pound-sack all evening. Owen and I alternated between the Yankees-Phillies game and the Leafs-Montreal tilt. Yankees won (game 3 of the World Series), Leafs lost in a shoot-out, then Daniel (heavy-lidded) and I drove Owen home.
This past summer, I mentioned that I'd re-read Frank McCourt's Angela's Ashes (see Aug 17/09 entry below). Early this morning, under a blanket on the love seat in the living-room, cup of coffee at hand, I finished re-reading the sequel, 'Tis. Simply: it's a wonderful book. I was deeply moved. They're both examples of creative non-fiction at its best, and I can't recommend them highly enough. The fact they hold up so well on a second go-round is further implicit praise. Frank McCourt died this past summer (age 79), and knowing this, the books had an added resonance. Made me want to add this entry here.
There's been talk of naming a new school in New
York after him, and I hope they get at it, quit talking about it, and do
it. Better him, a teacher, a writer, than another politician.
October 24, 2009
The Globe and Mail's (Canada's National Newspaper) Saturday Book Section has a weekly New in Paperback column, by H.J. Kirchhoff. He included Blue Limbo in today's edition. Given the sea of books that could be selected, and the oceans of publishers and writers who would like such a mention, it's a flattering nod. As I noted below (September 28/09 entry), the book still seems to have some legs, and I'd like to see what it can do in its reincarnation.
Check out the amazon.com
page for the book as well. It lets you "Look Inside"... Try
October 12, 2009
Thanksgiving turkey dinner yesterday. Conor (and Jenn) and Owen joined Merle, Daniel and me. Merle and I toasted the event with the mantra, learned from Phyllis and Kelly Gotlieb (see July 17/09 entry below): I offered, "I am so grateful." Merle countered with, "I am so lucky." And it is all true, never clearer than when we gather for these special events.
On my way back from Western in London, stopped in to visit my old high school buddy, Joe Quinto, who lives in Brantford. Haven't seen him for 3 years, since his wife, Lynda died (January 1, 2007 entry below). I think he's just coming out of that experience now. It was a good visit.
Speaking of Western (University of Western Ontario), I've agreed to teach a section of Writing 2211 (Fundamentals of Creative Writing) one day a week, from January to April, 2010. First time I've done the Winter Session (I've stuck with Fall only till now). I'm looking into taking the train there and back, given the time of year, and the likelihood of winter's whimsy. I'll keep you posted.
And my reading... Just finished re-reading Hugh
Garner's Cabbagetown. It's not a great book, but it's certainly
an interesting one, with lots of (gruff, Garner-style) local Toronto colour.
Written in 1950, about the "the largest Anglo-Saxon slum in North America,"
it's pretty clear that every Torontonian should read it. Or in my case,
re-read it... after 35 years...
September 28, 2009
Had a great time yesterday at Toronto's annual Word on the Street. They always estimate attendance as circa 200,000, and that was probably right for this year too. Among the titles that I brought along were 30 copies of the newly issued edition of Blue Limbo, and thay all sold out by 4 PM (the event goes till 6). I likely could have sold another 10 at least. Very pleased.
Saw old friends and long-lost faces, as usual. This year: Michael and Gina, George and Judy, Jim and Paula, Val and Jimmy, Myra and Larry, Mina... And so it goes.
Here's a shot of Daniel and me at the booth (click to enlarge):
September 14, 2009
The Word on the Street Festival takes place at Queen's Park in Toronto, from 11 AM to 6 PM, Sunday, September 27. I'll be with multiple-award-winning SF author Robert J. Sawyer, in the Writers Block, booth 17 (WB17). For this event, books will be on sale at terrific prices. (Example: I'll be featuring the new quality paperback edition of Blue Limbo at the fabulous introductory price of $8.99, to launch it into the local readership.) It's the ultimate, classic SF/Cop novel, set completely in Toronto. (In fact, Blue Limbo is one of 4 of my titles in Amy Lavender's (Geography Department, York University) upcoming volume Imagining Toronto.)
Drop by, say hello, pick up your Fall reading (and your Christmas presents? Signed copies...). It's always a terrific event and a great day.
On the personal side...
Daniel off to grade 4.
Helping Owen move to new digs this week.
I'm off to Western this week to begin teaching my annual Fall creative writing courses. (And as an aside... it looks like I'll likely be teaching a similar course there in the winter/spring, something I haven't done in the past. Discussions are ongoing. Will keep you posted...)
August 21, 2009
Received an advance copy of the ArcManor (PhoenixPick) reissue of Blue Limbo by courier this morning. A beautiful, inexpensive trade paperback (terrific buy, terrific value... circa $10 Canadian), it'll be available online (from the publisher, me, Amazon.com, etc.... details to follow) in October, 2009. It'll get its official launch and preview sales exposure at the September 27 Word on the Street festival here in Toronto, an annual event that draws around 200,000 people. I'll be at a table in the Writer's Block with good friend Rob Sawyer (Robert J. Sawyer, multiple award-winning SF author). Drop by, chat, and pick up a copy.
The Edmonton Journal called it "solid entertainment, with more than a bit of heart." A Toronto book, through and through, here's an extract from the back cover..:
I'll keep you posted.
August 17, 2009
A zinger of a hot spell here in Ontario, cooking the city in classic summer mode. We got away... took a 2nd summer break... a week at Riddell Lake near Bancroft -- a cozy little 2 bedroom cottage on a small lake where we got to relax in Canadiana style (see photos below; click to enlarge). Sitting on the swim raft, by the lake, or in the screened-in porch, several varieties of cool drinks in hand, I read Joyce Carol Oates's novel The Falls. Terrific. I've read her in the past, but clearly have forgotten how captivating a storyteller and writer she can be. I'll be scouting up a few more of hers. Also re-read Frank McCourt's Angela's Ashes -- which I last read in when it came out in 1996. It holds up beautifully. Enjoyed it all over again. A re-reading of his 'Tis is now on my radar.
Daniel off to I-Camp (a half-day computer camp) this morning.
Tryin' to stay cool. Miss that lake.
July 28, 2009
Blue Limbo is going to the printer. I've seen the cover and jacket copy. Looks good. And we've agreed thatBarking Dogs (my 1988 novel) will follow in Summer, 2010 as a companion volume (there's a notice to that effect on the last page of Blue Limbo). They'll both be subtitled "A Mitch Helwig Novel" since they both contain the same main character.
It'll be nice to see them back in print. They deserve it. I'm sure they'll find new readers. (Amazon.com, here they come...)
We're back from a week vacation at Coe Island Lake near Bancroft (Ontario). Fishin', swimmin', marshmallow roasts and family. Great week. A couple of photos posted below. (Click to enlarge).
July 17 & 27, 2009
Phyllis Gotlieb, friend and mentor, died July 14, 2009, here in Toronto. She was 83. Phyllis was a wonderful lady, a world-class poet, novelist and editor. We were interconnected as writers and fellow Torontonians for 30 years. Since the mid-90s, we shared the same editor (David Hartwell of Tor Books) and our talk of books and family grew as we wove in and out of one another's lives, attending more and more author and family events. Phyllis and her husband "Kelly" (Calvin Gotlieb) evolved into warm friends... They attended my retirement from teaching at East York C.I. back in 1999... We attended their 50th wedding anniversary that same year (Kelly and Phyllis celebrated their 60th anniversary this last Spring).
She was unique. As a couple, they were inspirational. Kelly is in our thoughts daily.
Back in 2001, Phyllis's seminal 1964 novel, Sunburst, was being reissued. (The Sunburst Award for Canadian Speculative Fiction takes its name from her book). She asked me to write a Foreword to the reissued book. I was both flattered and honoured. After finishing it, I sent her a copy to see if it met with her approval. She phoned me up, deeply moved, and said that she loved it, that I understood the book. Then, in a moment of fun and elation, she said: "Terry, you can write my obituary!"
I'd like to offer that Foreword here, as tribute and memory and epitaph, to my friend, Phyllis, and to her family.
(click to enlarge)
And here's her obituary from the Toronto Globe and Mail (July 21).
June 27, 2009
Father's Day a week ago. Got to watch (son) Daniel play baseball in the playoffs they have for the league at the local ball diamond. (Son) Conor and Jenn came up for the occasion. Bar-B-Q and trophies afterward, all on a beautiful, sunny morning. Merle and Daniel bought me John Updike's last (literally... he died earlier this year) collection of short stories, My Father's Tears (apropos?), about which I'd read good reviews (and had therefore suggested). Conor gave me a new mystery novel about Toronto (Old City Hall). Also got John Sandford's newest novel and (son) Owen came up to the house to join us for a steak dinner. Wonderful day.
As a tangent to the family stuff above... I've mentioned my cousin Jo-Anne's expertise at genealogy, in this Age of the Internet (see May 13/09 below). She unearthed terrific shards of information (previously unknown) that locate the Greens in the town of Mallow, County Cork, Ireland, definitively from the early 1800s, and suggestively from at least the mid-1700s (there is a James Green there -- as well as a Coffey family, into which they married -- in the 1766 census. They're divided into Protestants and Papists (the R.C.s) on that census. Both the Greens and the Coffeys were Papists (!).
Thumbnail summary: James Green (great-great-grandfather, born in Mallow circa 1818) married Mary Coffey there in 1838. Matthew Green (great-grandfather) was born there in 1842. The family then emigrated in 1850 -- near the end of the Great Famine (1846-1851) -- to England, where Matthew lived for 20 years. During that time, he married an English girl, Ann Plows (1863), and they and 3 of their children emigrated to Canada in 1870, landing in Quebec City June 16, 1870 aboard the ship Tamar, which sailed from Portsmouth, England. From there, they wended their way to Toronto (documents show their arrival in Toronto 4 days later -- June 20, 1870), where they stayed.
Matthew and Ann had more children here in Toronto, one of them being yet another Matthew (grandfather), born here in 1876. One of his children was Thomas, my father, born in 1904. He married Margaret Radey in 1929. I showed up in 1947, and am still here, sorting it all out, adding my own line, standing on their strong, adventurous shoulders, grateful for everything. Some of this is in my novel St. Patrick's Bed. (Someday, perhaps a future Mother's Day, I'll detail what I know of my mother's line, the Radeys (who were the Gradys in Ireland), and their flight during the famine (circa 1849), on one of the coffin ships, from Queenstown (Cobh Harbour) to Canada from County Kerry, Ireland (where we've got them going back to circa 1794)... another grand adventure I'm trying to assimilate... and have been working on for years -- cf. A Witness to Life).
Seemed an appropriate entry for Father's Day.
Reissue of Blue Limbo still on schedule.
Fathers and sons. It's yet another father-son story. It's typeset. Will
keep you posted.
June 13, 2009
Drinking my second cup of coffee on Saturday morning. Merle and Daniel sleeping late.
Last night... (Sons) Conor and Owen joined me, Merle and (son) Daniel here at the house to watch Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final between Detroit and Pittsburgh (in High-Def!). Merle made hot chicken sandwiches. We cooled 'em down with some iced beer (Daniel's quaff was Orange Crush). Pittsburgh beat Detroit 2-1. Daniel had his hockey cards out. The game was exciting, the company terrific. Guy stuff, really. A wonderful evening... Too rare. I felt blessed watching the fun and excitement in the room.
Only 2 more weeks of school for Daniel. Grade 4 next year. The beat goes on.
And for me (next Fall)... I'll be back at Western (The University of Western Ontario) next September, teaching my 2 courses (Writing 2211F: Fundamentals of Creative Writing; and Writing 2295F: Creative Writing: The Short Story). The former is scheduled as an afternoon class (3-hour workshop), the latter as an evening 3-hour workshop. I'll drive down to London (Ontario) in the morning one-day-a-week, stay over that night, come home the next morning. It's a 13-week commitment, from September to mid-December, and I'm looking forward to it -- as much as in the past (this'll be my 5th year at it!). Again: blessed.
I'll be revising the course outlines and posting them on this web site shortly.
May 13, 2009
Saturday, May 9, we had a fine family gathering for dinner (Carla, Vanessa, 2 Daniels, Tristan, Owen) and tried to tie up some loose emotional ends regarding Dennis. It was good. And as the next day was Mother's Day, the emotional family loose ends continued knitting. My cousin Jo-Anne prepared a fabulous family tree for me to give to Merle, going back into the 1700s. It was a knockout, and unearthed tons of stuff previously unknown. Then Merle, Daniel, his friend Noah and I headed off to see the new Star Trek flick (great fun) and off to dinner at East Side Mario's afterward. Maybe as good as it gets for a weekend.
And continuing on the theme of unearthing the past... Discovered by browsing around on the internet that 2 of my older stories (Legacy and Twenty-Two Steps to the Apocalypse) had been translated into Italian, French and Portuguese back in 1985, '86 and 1990 -- and I never knew. The internet continues to burrow through time and space, turning over curiosities -- and apparently even literary pottery shards.
And the latest: I've seen the typeset version
of the first 41 pages of the upcoming reissue of Blue Limbo.
Looking good. We're on schedule.
May 4, 2009
Saw my old friend Tom Potter (41 years now!) and his friend Kathy for brunch here in Toronto a couple of Sundays ago. They were in from Ottawa (where Tom now lives), on a combination business, family and pleasure trip. Next time we'll likely get-together will be July.
Speaking of get-togethers... Rob Sawyer and his wife Carolyn were here for a "Dark Knight" Night this past Saturday. We had dinner and a fun evening watching the new (sorta new) Batman flick on DVD. Had a chance to catch up on a lot. We'd just been to Rob's launch for his new novel Wake at the Dominion Pub on Queen East on April 30, and it was a good follow-up to that. Rob has been having lots of success, and I'm glad for him. His 1999 novel Flash Forward has been picked up for a TV series, and all signs indicate that it'll air this Fall. Keep your eyes open for it.
And we're planning a get-together with my sister-in-law, Carla (Dennis's wife) and their children and granddaughter -- a Saturday dinner -- to tie up loose ends, share thoughts, feelings, memories, go through old photos. I like to think Dennis would be pleased that we're getting together, carrying on, that he's still a part of our lives, pulling us together.
And what else...
Took Daniel and his friend Tommy to the new X-Men (Origins: Wolverine) movie. They told us it was awesome. Tommy and Daniel are also playing softball together (see photo below....Click to enlarge... Now that's awesome). Had my first eye-checkup in several years. Got a new prescription. As usual, things are changin'. Finishing the new T. Jefferson Parker novel L.A. Outlaws. Burning through to the end. Good stuff.
And just to keep me on my toes, Mother's Day just around the corner...Actually got an idea this year... Amazing.
March 28, 2009
Merle's mother died March 22nd. It's been a difficult time. She was 88. Seems we just got over Dennis's passing (December 16) and we got hit again as a family. Sometimes these things happen all at once -- or seem to. Many thanks to all of you who attended and cared and sent your thoughts our way. We're trying to slip back into the cogs of life. There is a dedicated web page for her (a service provided by the funeral folk) as a tribute. If interested, you can visit and click on "Images" and/or "Movie" on the right side of the page (http://www.MeM.com/Story.aspx?ID=2928844). Lots of family photos.
Spent last evening wth David Hartwell (Tor editor
and friend) who is in town from New York. Pleasant, stimulating, interesting.
Got my literary motor running a bit (it's been idling for some time
now). We'll see what happens.
March 12, 2009
Spring flirting with us. Cold today, warm last week. Winter's sputtering out, I trust.
We took Owen to the Keg for his birthday, and eventually to the Hockey Hall of Fame (Daniel wanted to go too). Conor came into town shortly afterward for a weekend and Owen and I helped him put some of his things in a storage locker, as he's moving digs. Musical chairs, juggling, keeping it all going. It feels good when we're all together, though. Last Saturday evening, Merle and I were invited to dinner at a friend's and Owen came over and "sat" with Daniel for us. They had a gas -- went and got take-out fish-and-chips, watched movies, fell asleep on the sofa. Daniel loved it... And Owen was terrific for us (and him).
Have had some correspondence with Arc Manor Books about the re-release of Blue Limbo. We're targeting Toronto's Word on the Street Festival on September 27, 2009, for its re-emergence into the literary world. It'll be a kind of "official" launch date and copies will be available for sale at the SFWA booth there.
Still skating. Bought Daniel and I hockey sticks (have you priced a hockey stick lately? Culture shock for an old guy...). Having a great time with it. (*Still got the moves.*) Daniel progressing in startling fashion (geometrically?). Wonderful.
And Dennis... Think of you every day...
February 10, 2009
Still wounded and shaken. Dennis's death has brought it all home, again: I'm operating in a two-tiered world... The one I've got and the one I've lost. It's a precipitous balance. They are both real.
Drinking a second cup of coffee this morning, mellow, trying to update.
Took Daniel and his friend Tommy ice-skating yesterday (was on the rink Sunday as well). Flashed my 40-year-old blades (attached to my 62-year-old body). I'm surprised I didn't draw a crowd. My birthday was 8 days ago. Owen came up for dinner. (Conor was out of town, working in a play... Owen also came over to stay with Daniel last Friday evening while Merle and I took in a movie.) Merle gave me the book St. Michal's College (100 Years of Pucks and Prayers), a beautiful volume about the hockey tradition of my old high school. What Notre Dame is to football, Duke to basketball, St. Mike's is to hockey. 184 alumni have skated in the NHL. The names, the faces, the teachers... I enjoyed it immensely.
In fact, I enjoyed it so much I went out and bought another copy to give to my friend Michael O'Gorman (who was quite a hockey player), whose birthday we usually celebrate alongside mine (his is one day later), knowing he would enjoy it as well. We were at his place for dinner Saturday for the joint occasion. (You can check the entry from February 4, 2007, below, for more context, as well as stunning photos of 2 good lookin' guys).
Have just been sent an electronic file of my novel Blue Limbo from the publisher who is re-releasing it this year. Got to go over the entire book and make sure it's OK before it goes into production, so I've got a specific, lengthy task at hand.
Booked 2 separate cottages (a week each) for this
summer -- one in July, the other, August -- near Bancroft, Ontario. Getting
organized. And Valentine's Day, Owen's birthday, Conor's birthday, all
on the horizon within the next month. I'll keep trying.
January 3, 2009
Took the Christmas tree down today, stored the decorations for another year.
Regarding my brother, Dennis... I said in an email recently that the whole affair had left me wounded and shaken, and that might say it best. The wound will never heal. I'll stop being shaken... eventually. And I did my best to get back into the stream of the season. Life can be too good -- especially when you've got a little kid around to enjoy it with. And Santa was good to him. Santa doesn't take a rest, and can operate even when wounded and shaken.
Santa brought a 40-inch flat-screen Toshiba and a Wii setup for Daniel (and the whole family). He's downstairs playing it with friends right now (Sunday afternoon). Watched The Dark Knight (terrific) and Shane (personal fave) on it since then. We (Merle, Daniel and I) celebrated Christmas with my older sons, Conor and Owen, who were here as well. Turkey, stuffing, cranberries... Yes.
Got the new John Sandford and Michael Connelly novels as well as Don Cherry's hockey book and Philip Roth's Indignation (appropriate title, at this juncture). Daniel had 2 afternoon playdates during the week, so Merle and I slipped off and saw the films Doubt and Frost/Nixon. Meryl Streep will probably win Best Actress Oscar and Frank Langella Best Actor. Great movies, great screenplays, great acting.
Last night, we had Greg and Donna Hughes and Michael and Gina O'Gorman here with us (Conor, Daniel, Merle and I) for a Holiday dinner for 8. Wonderful evening.
Back to school and work for all tomorrow. Looking forward to a less stressful span as we head into the depths of winter.
December 23, 2008
Service for my brother, Dennis, was Sunday, December 21. Lots of old friends and family gathered to celebrate his life and comfort one another. The Greens came from Sudbury, Jonathan from Collingwood, and an old friend of his from grade school showed up with good memories (when I asked him how he found out, he said he read my books and followed this web site... thanks Jim C.).
He was cremated yesterday at 11 AM. Today, his wife, her mother, his 2 children and their mates and I gathered at Mount Hope Cemetery to inter his ashes in a small informal ceremony. Another portion of his ashes will be scattered (at his request) at a later date (the spring or summer) on the French River, north of here, where he enjoyed fishing.
" ...the instant has vanished, and I am once
again spiraling upward on black wings,
turning, the sky above endlessly blue and white.
My destiny as a father is over. My family, I understand, is scattered on the winds.
The voice in my head is my mother's, teaching
me, pointing to objects, naming them, saying the words.
Time happens to the world around me, but not inside, not to memory, because memory is beyond time,
traveling forward with me, forging lives out of life,
shaping the earth, the sky, the heart."
- Terence M. Green, A Witness to Life, p. 239
December 16, 2008
I've been quiet for a while. Things have been happening.
My brother, Dennis, died this morning. He succumbed to his cancer (noted below, since April). We're all devastated.
There are those of you out there who would want to know this, and I thank you in advance for your thoughts.
November 10, 2008
It's been an ongoing saga, but I finally agreed to a deal with U.S. publisher Arc Manor Books to reissue my 1997 novel Blue Limbo. The contracts were signed last week. I'm pleased.
The publisher himself, a fan of the novel, got in touch with me several months ago. Initially, we were unable to come to an agreement. When I was reapproached last month, with the guidance and liaison of my agent, we were able to come to mutually acceptable terms.
Arc Manor is publishing a line of books called Phoenix Pick(www.phoenixpick.com), which has titles to date by Stephen Leigh, Alexei and Cory Panshin, Poul Anderson, Frank Herbert, Tom Godwin, Andre Norton... You get the idea. The focus of the line is to "bring back great science fiction and fantasy that has gone out of print... at an extremely competitive price (trade paperbacks, under $10)." Most of their books are published as Print-On-Demand (POD) books -- a relatively new technology in the book business -- offspring, of course, of the computer.
The timeline for the reissue is likely early 2009. I've linked their web site (above).
When one of a writer's books is out-of-print, available only by scouring used bookstores or the internet, it's a delight to see it get new life and be made available to interested readers once again.
I'll keep you posted.
October 21, 2008
Been very busy with teaching at Western. The weeks have a way of rolling along.
Excellent Thanksgiving. Merle's mother was here, along with Conor, Angela and Owen, to join Merle, Daniel and me. Getting together is the real Thanksgiving.
And had a surprise visit from old friends Pat and Jackie Walsh, in from Calgary visiting their daughter and grandchildren. A wonderful evening. See them every decade or so now. Amazing.
Flash Fiction, for the uninitiated, is
a concise modern term for a short-short piece of prose, usually circa 500
or so words in length. I was commissioned to do a piece for the web site
hosted by Russ Walker, a musician
who operates Kitchen
Sync, a studio that produces music for television and film.
Russ is launching a new CD and is using the web site for sales/promotion,
and thought the addition of a "story" would fit nicely into the package
and concept he is trying to express. So I gave him Phil's
New Digs. It's got an SF flavour to it, as has the entire CD
concept. You might enjoy.
September 6, 2008
End of "Back To School" week. Daniel's in grade 3, Merle's working with graduate students and new post-docs, and I had my first class at Western (with a second class -- different course -- to come next week). We're all getting back into the swing, back into routines.
Haven't written much fiction of late. (Life gets in the way). What I have written are a few new short stories -- of a literary, non-genre bent -- and I've been poking about trying to see where I might place them for publication. Being pretty much a traditionalist in this sphere, I'd never submitted to an online publication before, always steering toward hard-copy print and paper (I still love it). But in the interests of entering the 21st century, and acknowledging that the internet is definitely a force that has changed everything, I submitted a recently written story (V-Day) to the online literary journal The Danforth Review, and they published it this month. I've been aware of and a supporter of The Danforth Review (TDR) since 2000. They reviewed my novels Shadow of Ashland, A Witness to Life and St. Patrick's Bed, conducting an interview with me back in 2000 as well. It's a quality production, run by knowledgable, talented, dedicated folk. They pay for the fiction they publish online, keep it on their web site for 2 years, then archive it with Library and Archives Canada.
The story is a little off-the-wall, but perhaps that's its strength. If you'd like to read it, here it is: V-Day. Enjoy.
Family note: my brother has asked me not to update
his chemo treatments here, preferring more privacy now. Simply, his reactions
to them and their mixed results make comment almost impossible anyway.
That doesn't mean we aren't all with him. We are. Very much.
July 30, 2008
Been in the throes of summer -- and it's been a good one, albeit a strange one (especially the weather). Wettest July on record locally. In fact, it's raining outside as I write this now. So we've triply enjoyed any good summery weather that has managed to slip through the weird phenomenon.
Just returned from a 2-week vacation at 2 separate rented cottages in northern Ontario (near Bancroft, Ontario). We had the above-mentioned mix of days, but overall, enjoyed ourselves lots. My cousin Jacquie visited for one day ( a great sunny day). My oldest son, Conor, came up for a 3-day visit and it was a fine time. We caught more than 50 rock and smallmouth bass (honest!) -- and Daniel caught 48 of them. He's got the touch. Dropped in on the way home for a visit with old friend Tom Potter at his cottage on a nearby lake (where Daniel got joyously dragged around the lake on a tube! I was amazed.)
Read Ken Bruen, J.D. Carpenter, Lee Child and am in the middle of Julie Phillips's biography James Tiptree, Jr. (The Double Life of Alice B. Sheldon). Last night, we went to see The Dark Knight, and we're still recovering and talking about it. It had real tension and a real sense of menace -- unimaginably strong for a Batman movie. Daniel's dressing up like Batman this morning.
Family update: my brother Dennis is still in chemo treatment, but so far it's all been positive, and there's been significant shrinkage of the tumour. All our thoughts are with him.
A few photos of our vacation. (Click to enlarge).
Champlain and son.
It's as good as it looks
Daniel and I
Conor, Daniel and I
Conor and Daniel
June 16, 2008
Father's Day yesterday. Never mind a Day... Merle organized a terrific Father's Day Weekend.
Got a typed, computer note from Daniel, along with a clay cast of his hand that he made in school. Priceless. Merle got me the new Lee Child book (Nothing To Lose, featuring his ongoing character, Jack Reacher) and the latest novel by one of my new discoveries, Galway novelist Ken Bruen. It's called Cross -- hard-bitten cop noir, not for everyone, but definitely for me. He's a fine writer.
Conor, Owen and Angela came for dinner (steaks)
and it was a rare confluence of family -- the kind we all hope for more
A few pictures (click to enlarge):
Conor, Owen, Daniel and I
enjoy smoked salmon,
while Angela reflects
Daniel finds out
what it's like up there
with his big brothers
Such fine specimens of manhood
June 12, 2008
Read the anthology The Blue Religion, edited by Michael Connelly, a collection of 19 new short stories "about cops, criminals and the chase." Picked it up after reading Margaret Cannon's review in The Globe and Mail, saying that there wasn't a bad story in the book. And it is pretty good. I have favourites by Connelly himself, Peter Robinson, Polly Nelson, John Buentello, John Harvey and T. Jefferson Parker -- standouts in a standout bunch. If you like this kind of stuff (I do), try it.
Also finally had a chance to watch a DVD of the 2006 film The Last King of Scotland, in which Forest Whitaker gives his Oscar-winning performance as 1970s Ugandan dictator Idi Amin. It's very fine film. Catch it, if you haven't already. (The Departed won the Oscar that year. This one, not even nominated, is a better film.)
Family update: my brother Dennis is on his second
round of chemotherapy (see May 11 and April 24 entries below). He's
gained back 5 pounds in the last 2 weeks. Everything's as positive as can
be hoped for, given the circumstances. He's a fighter. I'm so proud of
how he's handled it all. This kind of crossroad takes your measure, unflinchingly.
He's standing tall.
May 11, 2008
Was contacted by York University in Toronto about the possibility of teaching a course called Prose: Argumentation and Style (starting this Fall), and after mulling it over, have decided it just isn't quite what I want to do at this point in my life. A tough decision. Very tough. I'm both grateful and flattered to have been presented with the opportunity, but will hold out for a chance to teach a creative writing course, should such an opportunity ever arise there. That's really what I want. The proffered course is a full-year lecture course, with an enrolment of 200. My courses at Western are creative writing workshops, and have a maximum enrolment of 26. It's really apples and oranges when you compare them -- although the chance to catch on at York is indeed tempting. We'll see what the future brings...
Family update: my brother Dennis has had his tracheotomy, has had a gastric tube inserted in his stomach, and begins his chemotherapy tomorrow (cf. April 24 entry below). I had a chance to visit him today, and he seems remarkably strong about it all. He stands as a giant in my eyes in terms of character and strength. I told him he reminded me of how our father would have dealt with it all -- which is a compliment.
This is one of my favorite photos of Dennis and
I, taken in Rhode Island, back in Novemmber, 2000.
(Click to enlarge.)
April 24, 2008
Watched the DVD of the 2007 film I Am Legend and thought highly of it. Very suspenseful, some good writing, and it even managed to be moving and thoughtful. Will Smith did a great job. I read the short 1954 Richard Matheson novel as a teenager back in 1964, when it was released as a 40 cent Bantam paperback (44 years ago... Egad...) and recall enjoying it, so I bought a new copy (of the Tor paperback) and read it again -- along with the 10 short stories they've included in the volume to flesh it out. Again, for what it is -- a piece of 1950s genre fiction -- it's rather impressive. (Quite different from the film, which uses only its central idea). Can't say the same for the 10 stories. Unlike the short title novel, they never transcend their genre and seem contrived, occasionally clever, and rather empty ultimately. But I can recommend Matheson's novel. It's a fine piece of suspenseful vampire lore, from the writer who also penned the book from which the 1957 film The Incredible Shrinking Man evolved. (Matheson also wrote that screenplay). Clearly, at his best, Matheson is a formidable fictioneer.
I've been offered the opportunity to teach 2 writing courses at The University of Western Ontario this coming Fall, and have accepted. I'll be teaching Writing 2295 (Creative Writing: The Short Story) -- a new course that I was asked to create and design -- one evening a week, 7-10 PM. I'll stay over in London (Ontario) and teach Writing 2211 (Fundamentals of Creative Writing) the next morning, from 10:30 AM to 1:30 PM. (This latter course is the one I've taught for the past 3 years.) I'm looking forward to the experience and the challenge. I'll begin writing up the new course as soon as possible. First time through there's always a certain level of experiment and learning on the part of the instructor as well as the students. The plan: I'll leave Toronto in the afternoon for Western, and leave London in the afternoon the next day to return home to Toronto. This is gonna be neat. I think. I hope. I trust. Wow. Anyway, it's a great opportunity, and I'm grateful.
On a more sobering note, as a personal family
update, my brother Dennis (2 years younger than I am), is undergoing very
serious health issues, with a cancerous growth in his throat, an upcoming
tracheotomy, and subsequent chemotherapy. I can't express how upsetting
and distracting this is. He's my kid brother. My head is filled with memories
of us as kids. (Check the Autobiography link on the Main Page).
Devastating news. Wish our family the best.
April 18, 2008
Quick update notice...
The Toronto Public Library is sponsoring a Canada Council, Heritage Reading Series in April and May, focusing on Speculative Fiction. It features more than 20 authors from across Canada. If you're interested, check the complete schedule for readers and dates here. I'll be at the Cedarbrae Branch (545 Markham Rd.) on May 7 and at the Centennial Branch (578 Finch Ave. W.) on May 15.
Great weather today. And it's Friday!
April 2, 2008
Finally... Thaw. Spring teasing us. I'm definitely ready.
Very busy (as always, really) of late. My son, Owen, 27 years old, has moved out to his own place (yesterday). He's been with us for the last 10 months, since he came back from a year in British Columbia. I know it's the right thing for him to do, but he's been a part of the household for such a long time that he'll be missed on a daily basis. Daniel, his little brother, will especially miss him. They're great pals. The good part is that he hasn't gone far. He's only 10 minutes away, and we're expecting him back for dinner weekly (right now, we've agreed on Tuesdays). He's working 6 days a week... Tuesday is usually his day off. Lifestyle changes -- especially those involving one's children -- are always emotional watersheds.
Been acquiring older kids' films on DVD. Daniel is 7 years old and we had such a positive response from him for Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948 -- a perfect kids' film) that I got hold of copies of A&C Meet the Invisible Man and A&C Meet the Mummy. We'll view them on successive weekends in the near future. We also watched Lon Chaney Jr. in The Wolf Man(1941) and it's a winner. Got copies of The Invisible Man(1933) and Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman (1942) in the vault too. These older films work well with kids because they're the right degree of "scary" without going over the top like the graphic and adult modern versions. Pretty neat stuff.
Books... Tried Jeff Lindsay's Darkly Dreaming Dexter and Dearly Devoted Dexter (there's even a new TV series based on the character). The protagonist is supposed to be a somewhat darkly charming sociopathic killer, who only kills "those who deserve it." It's written in a black-humour, tongue-in-cheek style that's meant to take you to strange places in a bizarre fashion. I have no objection to the concept as a fantasy and a fiction. What I couldn't get my head around was the amount of dismemberment and disfigurement that accompanies it all. Way too gratuitous. I think we're just talking about simple bad taste here. I can't recommend 'em. In fact, I think I'll give any others in the series a pass. I guess I'm out-of-step. I've always felt cool and in were overrated. Trying two of these books qualifies me for this personal opinion/reaction. Right? Right.
I'm reading Storm Runners by T. Jefferson Parker right now. Much better.
Think I'll scout up the 1953 DVD of Invaders
From Mars next. Then the 1981 The Legend of the Lone Ranger.
I saw it at the Imperial 6 in downtown Toronto with my oldest son Conor
when he was 3 years old and we loved it. According to the critical and
commercial success it received, we were the only ones. Just another example
of being out-of-step...
March 16, 2008
Climbing out of winter. Nearly record snowfall this year for Toronto, but of late you can feel spring hovering. Sunny, slightly warmer, longer days, sunglasses to stop melting snow from blinding. Hoping the thaw continues at a moderate pace so there's no flooding. So far so good.
This is the last day of our March Break. Daniel goes back to school tomorrow. We didn't really go anywhere (with the exception of a one-night-stay at the Delta Chelsea downtown and a dinner at Red Lobster... modest ambitions...)
We're already planning our summer. More when it's firmed up.
A few thoughts...
I set up this web site 8 years ago and maintain it myself. I realize it's not anywhere near state-of-the-art, but that's fine by me. Most of the sites I visit have evolved during that span from curious, interesting personal spaces to pretty dazzling, slick entities, maintained by professional web-hosters (precision menus, search engines...). I'm not averse to that in any real sense, but I've resisted the siren call and take small pride in my idiosyncratic cyberspot here. Recently, I received an email from David Neelin, who wrote: "You know, I like your web site. It is what the net is supposed to be all about. Not a big corporate thing. Yes, it used to be folks would make their own home page. Now so many go to Facebook. That is unfortunate in that it is just fill-in-the-blanks, a certain creativity and uniqueness is lost. Home pages are what the net should be all about."
The 20,000th visit clicked in today, so
I thought I'd note the event. Glad you dropped in. Come again.
February 11, 2008
I've seen New Year's pass since my last entry, along with my birthday. Upcoming is Valentine's Day, Owen's birthday, followed not long afterward by Conor's birthday. All these special-event-days keep me hopping, along with the minutiae of everyday life.
Just came back yesterday (Sunday) from an overnight trip to London (Ontario). Merle, Daniel and I drove down Saturday to see Conor in the children's play (Bluenose), during its stop at London's Grand Theatre. It was great fun, and it was also Daniel's first live theatre exposure. It was the perfect vehicle, especially with big brother Conor as a pirate in the 4-person cast.
Weather has been awful. Snow, freezing temperature, wind. Glad to get back and off the roads, but equally glad we went.
Got that depths-of-winter feeling. Lots of irons in the fire, lots of possibilities, but currently in stasis of sorts. Got 2 books for my birthday (the new hardbacks of Lee Child and John Sandford). Looking forward to immersing myself in them.
Talk to you soon, with more...
December 27, 2007
Christmas has come and gone. A really good one this year... Conor (and Angela) and Daniel and Owen all here with Merle and me. What a pleasure to get everybody together. The Xmas ham made its appearance. Toasts and Cheers. We actually all played Monopoly Christmas evening (Daniel loving it) before I drove Conor and Angela home for the night.
Daniel got his requested Gamecube setup, with 3 games to go with it. I gave Merle some Nahema perfume and an oak bedroom valet. I got a handful of wonderful books (The Film Club by David Gilmour; Exit Ghost by Philip Roth; Born Standing Up by Steve Martin). Santa was good to us all.
Just finished Gilmour's The Film Club (A True Story of a Father and Son). I loved it. With Conor turning 30 in March, and Owen 27 in February, it really resonated. Highly recommended.
At Michael and Gina's on December 15, lunch with
Greg Hughes on the 19th, Eugene and Anna (with Jan and Alus) and Steve
and Fannie here on the 23rd, Bill and Judy here this evening (the 27th),
and Alex over for dinner on the 30th. New Year's on the horizon. 2008 should
be good. Will check in again soon to confirm.
December 7, 2007
Yesterday was my last day at Western (University of Western Ontario) for the year. I enjoyed it, as usual, and look forward to next fall, when I assume I'll be back.
And the course I mentioned in my November 2/07 entry (below) will be a reality in September, 2008. It's been scheduled in such a way that I should beable to teach both courses -- one on the Wednesday evening, the other on the Thursday morning (stay over in London one night a week). But I'm getting ahead of myself... Will keep you posted as it develops.
For now, the focus is Christmas. Lots of socializing coming up, along with shopping and the dispensing of inordinate amounts of cash.
Where's Santa when I need him?
November 11, 2007
Got a bad cold right now. Hoping to be past the worst of it this week, but still got headaches, sniffles, the whole bit.
Something a little different. Curiosa...
I subscribe to lots of unusual stuff. One of them, always erudite and interesting and literary, is Steam Engine Time, edited by Australian Bruce Gillespie, a writer and critic I've respected for more than 30 years. The publication draws its name from a quotation by the satirist and skeptic (and possibly kook) Charles Fort [1874-1932]("human thought is a growth, like all other growths...A tree cannot find out how to blossom... until comes blossom time. A social growth cannot find out the use of steam engines, until comes steam-engine time.")
In a piece titled Enjoy a Good Short Story, Gillespie lists his favorite short fiction (SF and Fantasy) published between 1977 and 2006. (He has 59 of them!) He writes: "The following list was prompted by discussion on one of the email groups (probably Fictionmags) more than a year ago. Somebody was asking for candidates for an upcoming anthology. I cannot remember why the years to be covered began in 1977."
The story "Ashland, Kentucky" (the original basis for my 1996 novel Shadow of Ashland) came in at number 12. I was flattered.
He lists the story's date as 1993, a bit of a puzzle to me (it was first published in 1985, saw subsequent intermittent reprints; perhaps the date is the year in which he read it). 8 of his 20 stories -- understandably, given his life in and around Melbourne (where he still lives) -- are by Australians. I'm the sole Canadian. I'm not going to reproduce the entire list, but to provide a context, I thought some might find the first 20 of interest:
1 The Mask (Stanislaw Lem) 1977
2 The Battle of Acosta Nu (Gerald Murnane) 1985
3 The Little Kingdom of Franklin Payne (Steven Millhauser) 1993
4 Little Red's Tango (Peter Straub) 2006
5 Seven American Nights (Gene Wolfe) (1978)
6 The Pressure of Time (Thomas M. Disch) 1980
7 On the Turn (Leanne Frahm) 1988
8 A Map of ther Mines of Barnath (Sean Williams) 1995
9 The Fittest (George Turner) 1985
10 A Letter From the Clearys (Connie Willis) 1986
11 The Caress (Greg Egan) 1990
12 Ashland, Kentucky (Terence M. Green) 1993
13 Seven Guesses of thre Heart (M. John Harrison) 2000
14 Leningrad Nights (Graham Joyce) 2002
15 Tendeleo's Story (Ian MacDonald) 2002
16 Pie Row Joe (Kevin McKay) 1978
17 Out There Where the Big Ships Go (Richard Cowper) 1979
18 Houston, Houston, Do You Read? (James Tiptree, Jr.) 1979
19 Life the Solitude (Kevin McKay) 1983
20 The Dominant Style (Sean McMullen) 1991
A selection of them just might make an interesting anthology indeed.
(If interested, you can find the entire list
on page 28 at the following link:
The general link to Bruce Gillespie's publications is: http://efanzines.com/SFC/index.html
November 2, 2007
Very little to report... Halloween two nights ago. Always fun (with a kid around). My class at Western zips along, week by week. As of yesterday (November 1) we're now finished Week 9 (of 13 weeks). Only 4 more to go. Workshopping short pieces of fiction yesterday and again next week. Stimulating and busy.
I've been approached about creating and teaching
a separate 13 week course (in addition to this one) next Fall. Thought
about it, wrote up a proposal for it, and Roger Graves, Head of the
Writing Program, is going to present it to the powers-that-be and (theoretically)
get it approved. If it happens, they tell me they'll schedule it appropriately
for me. Big Adventure. It would be a workshop course called Creative
Writing: Fiction (The Short Story). I've kind of got
myself talked into it. I'll keep you posted. Won't know, really,
until the Spring. What will be will be.
October 8, 2007
Got down to Niagara Falls at the beginning of September, and finally have a few photos to post to mark the event.
Me and Beyonce...
(met her in
the wax museum)
...also had a drink with Bogie & Marilyn
Sunday, September 30, was Toronto's annual Word
on the Street Festival. A beautiful day, weather-wise, and a fine time
overall. Met and chatted with lots of folks (some from years ago... voices
and faces from the past) and saw lots of books get into the hands of avid
readers. Always a pleasure. Amy Lavender Harris (professor at York University...
operates the site ImaginingToronto)
posted a nice summary of the day, with special mention of the SFWA
booth (see Section 3 of attached link). I'll let her sum it up for me.
Her commentary is at Reading
September 15, 2007
Started teaching again at Western (University of Western Ontario) -- Thursdays only. Had 2 sessions with the class so far... Just getting rolling. 24 students. Looks good. Nice to be back.
Next upcoming is the annual Toronto Word on the Street Festival, which draws circa 200,000 people for the day-long event. As I have been for the past decade, I'm once again coordinator/liaison for the Toronto-area SFWA table and booth. If you're interested, drop down to Queen's Park, get a book at a discount and get it signed by the author. A perfect gift for bibliophiles.
Writers at the SFWA Booth (Booth 183, east side of Queen's Park, just south of St. Joseph St.):
Terence M. Green: 11 AM - 6 PM
Robert J. Sawyer: 11 AM - 6 PM
Scott MacKay: 11 AM - 3 PM
Karl Schroeder: 11 AM - 2 PM
Phyllis Gotlieb: 3 PM - 5 PM
Andrew Weiner: 2 PM - 3 PM
August 30, 2007
Summer slip-slidin' away. Gonna take in a waterpark in Niagara Falls before it all ends -- let Daniel (and us) grasp a final summer straw.
Wrote a 1000 word Intro/Bio of writer Robert Charles Wilson for the convention program book where he'll be Guest of Honour in October (in Portland, Oregon). Bob apparently suggested me, and they were good enough to offer small remuneration, so we availed ourselves of the CNE (Canadian National Exhibition -- an annual Toronto tradition, complete with midway for Daniel) on the vast windfall.
Reading lots, as usual. Re-read Huckleberry Finn (been more than 40 years). Remarkable. Completely politically incorrect, but amazing stuff. Twain both of his time and way ahead of his time. Have also begun to read most of John Sandford's novels. He writes police procedurals/mysteries, with a continuing character (cop Lucas Davenport), and I'm hooked. Great page-turning fun.
Starting up teaching my fall course at UWO
of Western Ontario) -- Writing 211 -- next week. (Have posted a link to
the course outline on my main page). And next will come Toronto's annual
on the Sreet Festival (September 30). More on that soon...
July 22, 2007
Got some photos of our week away on Loon Lake
near Haliburton, Ontario, plus a couple of domestic ones of Conor, Owen
and Daniel at home in June/July. Enjoy. (Click to enlarge).
Daniel and I on the dock
more summer leisure
a pretty nice beach
and great sunsets
Daniel, Conor, Angela, roasting marshmallows inside on a rainy evening
my 3 fabulous sons and the incredible backyard treehouse
Owen and Daniel playing his new Nintendo-DS game
July 2, 2007
Very little to add here at July's start. Planning a variety of summer activities (beaches, cottages) and hoping the weather will be good. Big news for our family is that my son, Owen (26 years old), has returned from a year in British Columbia, and is staying with us until he gets things settled and sorted here in Toronto. We're delighted to have him here and to see him again after the lengthy sojourn (his little brother, Daniel, is especially thrilled). His return has kept me busy, as has the placement of a new mortgage on our house -- which had to be done by July 1st (ie-yesterday). Now that it's out of the way, I'm onto insurance matters. How mundane. (Sound dull? You should be in my chair).
Discovered Stephen Hunter's Bob Lee Swagger books
(three of them). Finished Point of Impact (filmed recently
as Shooter) and am on Black Light. Great stuff.
May 22, 2007
Offered (today) the opportunity to return to teach Writing 211 at Western (The University of Western Ontario) for a third session (September 1st - December 31, 2007). Delighted. A couple of slight changes from last year... The class will be held from 12:30 to 3:30 PM, Thursdays (as opposed to Wednesdays, 1:30-4:30, as was the case last year). There's been a room change too. Last year we had a terrific spot -- a seminar room. This year I'm back in a lecture hall -- not as ideal for a discussion/workshop class like this one. Small cavil, though. I'm adaptable. I think.
Been reading lots of good novels of late. Really
enjoying Lee Child's Jack Reacher character (Killing Floor,
One Shot, The Hard Way, The Enemy, Echo Burning, etc.). Very readable.
Lots of fun. But I wanted to single out Cormac McCarthy's The
Road (recent winner of The Pulitzer Prize, and totally unrelated
to anything by Lee Child) as a book that has "weight" and "heft" and is
also eminently readable and provocative. Like Philip Roth's Everyman,
it hits the reader between the eyes with its force and simplicity. Anybody
out there looking for recommendations/suggestions?
April 8/9/26, 2007
Want to link to a very positive review
of Sailing Time's Ocean posted today by the most popular
blog about Toronto (BLOGTO):
[And another at Andy's Anachronisms (timetravelreviews.com).]
Also: here are a few photos (promised last entry, March 25) of the UWO reception and our trip to the Butterfly Conservatory near Niagara Falls)... (Click on photos to enlarge):
Part of the display...
a classy job
Chatting with the UWO Bookstore manager
Daniel... keeping me company
Check out the butterfly
on Daniel's arm
March 25, 2007
Lazy Sunday morning. Try to post a few updates...
March Break for schools here was the week of March 12-16. Merle, Daniel and I had our big vacation as an overnighter in a suite in Niagara Falls back on the 15th. (When you're 6 years old, the hotel pool is what the vacation is all about). Visited the butterfly conservatory there on the way back (wonderful) as well as the Book Depot in St. Catherines (box of books: 29.95).
This last week, the three of us got another overnighter in a suite in London, Ontario (took Daniel out of school for a day-and-a-half), as I was invited to take part in the Faculty Author Reception at Western (University of Western Ontario) on the 21st. Again: a fine time, a splendid event, and the pool was the hit of the stay.
Hope to have a few photos of both events to post shortly. (Apprehensive about my next VISA bill though).
Reading Bill Bryson's A Short History of
Nearly Everything. Amazing stuff. Recommended. Talk about researching
a book. Egad.
March 8, 2007
Thought I'd take one of my irregular detours, have a bit of fun and talk about some books I've been reading and a few DVDs I've seen of late. I like to read these types of lists/commentaries, and suspect many others do as well.
Read two Philip Roth novels since Christmas: a new one (Everyman) and an old one (The Professor of Desire). Both are further eveidence for me that he and John Updike are the two premier authors of the last half of the 20th century (and early 21st, of course). Incredible, profound observations, beautifully delivered. Read Margaret Atwood's new collection of stories Moral Disorder. As always, I enjoy her short fiction more than her novels. And Peter Behrens won the Governor General's Award (deservedly) for The Law of Deams, a terrific book about a young man fleeing Ireland during the famine of 1847 and making his way to England, Canada and the United States. Also read P.D. James's The Children of Men (recommended), an Orwellian look at a near-future where everyone is infertile, and the myriad consequences beyond the obvious. I look forward to seeing the recent feature film based on it. Ronald Wright's A Short History of Progress made me want to read his own Wellsian novel A Scientific Romance, which I ordered online and which is in the to-be-read pile beside the bed. Also tried a James Patterson novel, Mary, Mary. Give it a miss. Patterson is a best-selling mystery writer whom I thought I should try. He didn't work for me. It was okay... but I'm not sure that's enough. One's tastes get more rarefied as one ages and realizes that time is more precious than ever. There are better cop/mystery writers (Robert Crais, Michael Connelly) out there, and I'll stick to them (but keep trying the odd new one... Trying George Pelecanos right now... We'll see...).
Two fine films caught on DVD: The Rocket, a Canadian film, the story of Montreal Canadien hockey legend, Maurice ("The Rocket") Richard, and Hollywoodland, the story of the death of George Reeves (TV's Superman) back in the 1950s. Both much better than most of the more highly touted fare assailing us from every angle. Hollywoodland is a neat little film noir. For folk of my vintage, the memory of George Reeves as Superman in the 50s is a powerful one, and this story, based on the true-crime book Hollywood Kryptonite, which I read about a decade ago, is a gemlike evocation of the place and the era.
You should also catch United 93, if you haven't already. Another small (important) gem.
Signing off, this bright, sunny, dazzling white
February 21, 2007
And just as I noted at the beginning of the February 19 entry below, I usually post these things too late... But I'm tryin' to get my act in gear...
The annual Ad
Astra convention takes place March 2nd to 4th at the Crowne
Plaza Toronto Don Valley Hotel, 1250 Eglinton Ave. East. I've agreed to
sit on 2 panels Saturday (moderating the "Not Just a Fiction Writer"
panel at10 AM, and joining the Sunburst Jury panel at1 PM) and to
give a Reading (Sunday, 2 PM). It's always entertaining, and if
you're local, you might have some fun too. I enjoy the Dealers' Room --
lots of books that I seldom come across in other venues. Bibliophilia.
February 19, 2007
I usually think of posting these things too close to the event, but this time I'll try a reasonable lead-time...
On Wednesday, March 21, (7 PM - 9 PM), The University of Western Ontario (in London, Ontario, where I teach Creative Writing in the Writing Program, Faculty of Arts and Humanities) is hosting a Faculty Author Reception at the UWO Book Store. Twenty-eight authors are participating. Book displays will be set up in the reception area for browsing and book signing. Book prices will be 20% off. To ensure adequate refreshments, RSVPs are appreciated (to email@example.com, by Monday, March 19.) Invitations will be extended to Western's Board of Governors, The Senate, Deans and Chairs. And I'd like to personally invite any of my past (and future) students to drop by and say hello. It'd make my day.
I'll be signing copies of the novel Sailing
Time's Ocean, my latest release. (You can check the February
15, 2007 edition of Western
Newsfor a nice review of the book.) Sounds like a grand
time. Hope to see you there.
February 4, 2007
I turned 60 on Friday, February 2nd. Kind of stunning. Me and Farrah Fawcett. Christie Brinkley was a mere 53 and James Joyce turned 125. What exalted company! Merle took the day off work and we had a great time and a great lunch -- just the two of us. Merle actually shucked a dozen oysters for the occasion, so I now know that anything is possible.
Chester and Bill (contemporaries from high school!) took me to lunch last Wednesday. They're already 60 -- old hands at the experience. Tom Potter and I are getting together for lunch two days from now (the 6th). He's another veteran helping me along with this. And last night (the 3rd), Merle and Daniel and I were guests at Michael and Gina O'Gorman's for dinner and Michael's 60th birthday celebration. He's one day younger than I am. We met in grade one when we were 5 years old. Thought you might enjoy the contrasting photos below, unearthed from several layers of archaeological strata...
See what time can do to us (besides wipe out our
innocence?) Click on photos to enlarge.
February 3, 2007
I'll get back to more literary matters next time. I think.
January 1, 2007
Sitting here New Year's Day, trying to give a thumbnail recap of the holiday season so far (the 12 days of Christmas aren't up yet). It's an unseasonal (but welcome) balmy day for January 1st (going to 10 degrees celsius -- about 50 degrees fahrenheit, and sunny). No real winter yet, especially in light of the storms that have hit other cities in the news. We'll take it while we can.
On December 23rd, Michael (friend from grade 1) and Gina O'Gorman were here for dinner and to sample Merle's traditional homemade Irish Cream. Conor and Angela were here for Xmas. Daniel got a small laptop and an air hockey game. The meal was spectacular, as usual. Tom and Will Potter (and Noah from next door) were here for dinner on the 27th, Ken and Judy Luginbuhl on the 28th, and we were invited to a beautiful meal at Eugene and Anna's on Saturday, the 30th. Merle prepared some fabulous scallops last night for our own New Year's Eve. Food and good company, as you can see, have been plentiful.
Daniel, Merle and I have seen Charlotte's Web and Night at the Museum. We've watched more than our share of DVDs (Conor gave me The Errol Flynn Collection). Today, we might take in Rocky Balboa and then off to East Side Mario's (at least, that's the plan at 10:30 AM as I write this).
There was one sobering event to balance the scales. Got a call Christmas Day from my friend Joe Quinto (living in Brantford, Ontario, some hour or so west of Toronto) to say that his wife Lynda had died on Christmas Eve. She'd been suffering from cancer for some time, with intermittent remissions, but it accelerated alarmingly the last month or so. She was 60 years old. Joe and I have known each other since high school. This was inordinately hard on everybody, especially at this time of year. Like I said: sobering.
Other old friends from high school -- Chester and Bill -- accompanied Merle and I to a memorial service in Brantford on Saturday the 30th. All our lives shrank a bit. It's a profound loss.
To end on a more positive note: Daniel (6 years
old) spent the 30th with Conor (his big brother -- 28 years old) and Angela
at their place, and told us that it was "the best day of his life." I emailed
them and told them his comment. I don't know if they're flattered, thrilled
or terrified. It looks like a pretty serious turning point. I recommend
they begin getting more sleep, preparing for the future.
December 23, 2006
2 photos here of my Writing 211 class this
past fall at The University of Western Ontario. (I'm in the first
one -- taken by Blake; Blake's in the second one, taken by me). As
you can clearly see, they're a brilliant, creative group! Good Times...
on images to enlarge).
December 9, 2006
In today's Globe and Mail (Saturday Books Section), Jack Kirchhoff reviews Sailing Time's Ocean briefly in his weekly Paperbacks column. He calls it "a snappy time-travelling nuclear bomb thriller." It's nice to get a positive mention (especially just before Christmas).
Been busy. My term at Western ended this last Wednesday (December 6). Now I've got to finish marking the stories submitted on that date, as the final grades are due one week after the last class. Then comes Christmas, charging like a rhino. The tree went up (and fell down once -- to go up again... almost a necessary ritual stolen from National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation) in our house last night. It's happening. It's coming. Soon I'll be broke, just like you!
November 20, 2006
Daniel's 6th birthday yesterday. Conor and Angela came over for dinner to join in the celebration. Daniel got a giant (foot-long?), remote-controlled insect that looks like something out of the movie Starship Troopers -- something he'd always wanted, but something he never believed we'd buy him. I can't believe it either.
And yesterday was 102nd edition of Toronto'sSanta Claus Parade; we were among the hundreds of thousands lining the streets. Bundled up with 2 pair of socks each, we still froze after 2 hours of losing body heat. I could just imagine the surge on the water system afterward as all those folks rush to a washroom.
Marking papers and reading for Wednesday's class at Western today. (Only 3 more classes to go).
Battling a cold. And so it goes.
October 28, 2006
If I was a bit more organized (wouldn't we all like to be?), I'd have posted a notice about this before the event instead of during it. But perhaps better late than never...
I was a guest panelist (yesterday) at a seminar introducing The 2nd Annual Fantasy Worldwide International Film Festival, held this weekend at Innis College, University of Toronto (the seminar was held in Innis Town Hall -- a very nice venue). I was impressed by the event and the array of young talent showcasing their films at the festival.
The panel consisted of myself, Karl Schroeder (writer), Julie Czerneda (writer), Hoku Uchiyama (director), Sibel Guvenc (director/writer), Perry Mucci (actor), and Michael Sparaga (producer/writer/editor). I'm sure I was the senior member of the group. As I said above: the youth and talent around me was exciting. If you're interested in the next wave of film makers -- what's on the horizon -- I suggest you keep an eye on any of the names in that list.
On the home front...
We're having a Halloween party tomorrow afternoon (Sunday, 2-5) for Daniel and 4 of his close friends (Jan, Ethan, Leander and Chris). Wearing costumes is encouraged. The main event will be the DVD movie Monster House, but there'll be treats and lots of other neat stuff. Ah, to be 6 years old...
Think of me when you're placidly reading your
Sunday newsaper, sipping that 3rd cup of coffee.
September 25, 2006
Toronto's Word on the Street Book Festival took place yesterday. With the exception of a bit of rainy weather late in the day (4 to6 PM), it was a great success, with good crowds and lots of interest (the rain did close things up suddenly, though). I sold lots of books (including about 20 copies of my new Sailing Time's Ocean) and met and chatted with lots of interesting folks.
Near the end of the day, I was approached by Jamie
Fraser, a well-known local rare book dealer who wears another hat as editor
of the Merril Collection's SOL Rising newsletter (the
Collection is one of the world's largest public library collections
of SF, F & Speculative Fiction -- a special collection in the Toronto
Public Library system). He asked me for a few words for the newsletter
about my experience at The Word on the Street, and I wrote a short
(450 word) piece for him today. Since it serves to explain much of what
the day and the event is about, I'm linking it here for its self-explanatory
value. Enjoy: The Word
on the Street recap. (Also here on page 5 of the published
posted April 4/07).
September 10, 2006
The 17th annual Word on the Street Book Festival takes place Sunday, September 24, on and round Queen's Park Crescent in Toronto. This is a big event celebrating the written word, annually attracting in excess of 200,000 people, and is a great opportunity for readers and authors to interact. Since 1998, I've been the organizer/liaison for the SFWA (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America) Booth, and always enjoy the day. There are meet-and-greet-the-author events, book signings, and great deals on books themselves. This year, for example, I'll have signed copies of my just-published Sailing Time's Ocean available at Festival discount price, as well as discount-priced copies of most of my other books -- as will the other participating authors.
We're located in Booth 235, on the northwestern arc of Queen's Park Crescent itself.
Terence M. Green: 11 AM - 6 PM
Scott Mackay: 11 AM - 3 PM
Karl Schroeder: 11 AM - 2 PM
Andrew Weiner: 2 - 3 PM
Phyllis Gotlieb: 3 - 4 PM
Ad Astra Convention Reps: 3 - 5 PM
David Clink: 11 AM - 6 PM
Hope to see you there.
September 7, 2006
My contributor copies of Sailing Time's Ocean arrived at my door yesterday. It's a really nice looking book, and I thank Rob Sawyer for bringing it back to life in a new incarnation. I think the cover design and artwork (see March 28/06 entry below for cover image), the Afterword (by Robert J. Sawyer), my new Foreword, the Book Club Guide and the substantial, new About the Author additions make it a solid book and good value (at $19.95 Canadian, $16.95 US) -- all in addition to what we think is a pretty good story. And you can take this with a grain of salt if you wish, but as I re-read and edited the story over (and over) during pre-publication, getting the opportunity to look back on it (and myself) some 15 years ago, I was both amazed and impressed with the imaginative concepts and the overwhelming research that it contained. It speaks to this thing called "creativity," because I often wondered, "Where did this come from? How did I come up with this? Where did I get the energy and drive?" In so many ways, the book, its genesis, its appearance, like everything else, is a mystery.
Hope it is warmly received and enjoyed.
(If you'd like to order a copy from the publisher
-- or even just read the back cover copy -- click here).
August 23, 2006
My computer came back (finally). Needed a new fan, cleaning, and they reprogrammed the Bios (?). How's that for esoteric info...
Anyway, because it's back, I was able to scan
some summer photos -- several from our week at Coe Island Lake (see
August 10 entry below)... Click on thumbnails to enlarge... And enjoy.
Daniel in his backyard treehouse
Fishing at dusk. Beautiful.
Merle & Daniel on the island opposite the cottage (at top, background)
A fine smallmouth bass, landed with the aplomb of a seasoned pro.
2 we dined on for breakfast.
Relaxing with a book on the dock.
Merle & Daniel floating in the perfect water off the dock.
August 10, 2006
Summer's funneling down. Been a fine one, though. Highlight was the week (July 22-29) that we spent at the rented cottage on Coe Island Lake south of Bancroft, Ontario. It was a beautiful spot, a lovely cottage and the weather held up. Daniel and I caught more than 20 smallmouth bass (without trying overly hard). This is one we'd like to return to -- and perhaps we will.
Visited my cousin Jacquie in Madoc on the way up, and my friend Tom Potter and his family at their cottage on the way back. It really was nice to see his two oldest -- Jeff and his family, and Jill, visiting from the Yukon. Been too long.
Since getting home, it's been more summer idyll. Daniel's had playmates over this week (Benjamin, Matthew, Wesley tomorrow), and last week we had dinner at Eugene and Anna's, with their two -- Jan (Daniel's friend) and Alex.
I've spent time finishing all the necessary work on Sailing Time's Ocean. Everything seems to be on schedule. The book should appear within a month.
Took my computer (purchased August, 2003) in for tune-up /repair back on July 21, just before heading out of the city -- and just before its extended, 3-year warranty runs out. It was making a lot oif noise when the fan came on to cool it down. Knew I should get it looked after. They sent it out to the factory and I'm expecting it back anytime now. In the meantime, I'm working on my old desktop (purchased 9 years ago) with Windows 95 as its operating system. It barely handles the 21st century world, and this explains some of my lapse in posting any recent updates. It also will explain why I haven't scanned in any photos to accompany this piece. Need the other computer... When I get it back, I look forward to posting some nice shots of the summer detailed above.
June 27, 2006
Treehouse completed! (Will dust off my camera and post a picture soon.) Yesterday, Daniel's friend Benjamin was over from 3:30 till 8:30 (stayed for dinner) and the treehouse was the focus as they dressed up in Spiderman and Batman costumes.
Sunday, we had some parents (5 sets) of his school friends (and all the kids, of course) over for a few hours in the afternoon for an Open House in the backyard -- before we all scatter to the winds for the summer. A fun event. The newly-famous treehouse got its true initiation and workout then, and stood the test. Tomorrow is the last day of school for all of them.
Lunch with Tom Potter tomorrow. He heads to his cottage with his kids for the summer shortly. Hope to visit him there later in July.
Superman movie opening in the next few
days. Guess who'll be there, with their own superhero in tow?...
June 13, 2006
On Saturday. June 10, we went to a nice gathering at Rob Sawyer's place. It was a combination social/professional occasion... As editor, he was amassing the authors in his new line: Marcos Donnelly, Karl Schroeder, Andrew Weiner, Nick DiChario, Danita Maslan and myself, and had Fitzhenry & Whiteside representative, sales rep Tracey Dettman there for us to meet as well. The next day (Sunday the 11th), I dropped down to Book Expo at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre to help promote and meet and greet. Authors were giving away autographed copies. Sailing Time's Ocean doesn't happen until September, so I wasn't actively involved in this part. .. But next year...
Have spent the past few weeks proofing copy of
Time's Ocean and updating the Course Outline for
(Still got some work to do on the Course Outline). But my real project
has been building the treehouse in our backyard for Daniel. I'm well underway.
Got the frame set up. Tomorrow, we go to Home Depot and buy more wood and
hardware and continue. Daniel and I are both excited. A work odf art! Will
keep you posted...
May 21, 2006
Last week I was offered the chance to return to teach Writing 211 (Fundamentals of Creative Writing) at The University of Western Ontario, starting in September, and I accepted. I'm committed only to the fall term. I did this last fall and enjoyed it immensely (see entries below from last year). This coming year, they were good enough to put the 3-hour-a-week course on one day for me (it was split into 2 separate days last year), something I suggested and requested. The class is slated for 1:30 to 4:30 PM, Wednesdays, in a room on the second floor of University College. Surrounding these hours, I'll have to schedule 3 additional "office hours," so I'll likely be there from 12:00 to 6:00 -- with travel time, a full day.
For me, this is great news, something I was hoping would materialize (and continue into the future). It will give me a solid footing once again in the academic community, provide me with the opportunity to teach what I want (creative writing) to whom I want (university students) in a great spot (Western). Also starting in September, Daniel begins grade 1 and will be in school full days. I'll be able to spend the day in London (Ontario) with greater ease as a result, and when home will be able to focus more regularly on my own writing.
Small blessings mixed, as usual, among the magic
chaos of life...
April 25, 2006
An off-centre entry today...
Finally read Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code. Figured I might be one of the last guys on the planet to do so. Thought I should find out what all the hoopla was about.
I'm still shaking my head at its incredible success.
Verdict: save yourself the time and trouble, unless you're just curious, as I was. It's quite a load of codswallop. If I'd stumbled across it as a small, unknown novel, I think I'd have thought it was a fun, sometimes clever little book. But given its phenomenal sales, I was expecting much more, and it just doesn't deliver. I guess nothing could live up to that hype.
I'm a pretty voracious, ecelctic reader, and it's not like I don't know the genre. Over the past year, I've read all of Robert Crais's novels, most of Michael Connelly's, as well as 5 of James Swain's (I counted on my shelf: 28 total in this field alone). These are all thriller/cop novels, and every single one of them is a better read than Dan Brown's book. In some ways, Brown's is like reading a James Bond novel: totally unbelievable. There are about 6 or 7 pages that are really interesting bits of historical trivia (if true). The rest is a chase story, founded on nonsense, with no believable, adult characters.
Immediately after reading Brown's book, I read Scott Turow's Ordinary Heroes, a mystery/family/war novel. Although nothing he's written since his own phenomenal best seller Presumed Innocent has been as good or riveting, Ordinary Heroes is still head and shoulders above Brown's novel. It has real historical research, real characters, and much wisdom -- in short, an impressive book, and a complete contrast.
Nobody in the book industry can account for (or
duplicate) the success of Harry Potter or The Bridges
of Madison County. There's no accounting for what the public will
suddenly leap at. Now you can add The Da Vinci Code to that
March 28, 2006
Here's a sneak preview of the tentative cover
design for Sailing Time's Ocean (see March 19 entry below).
I think it's a stunning visual, and am appropriately delighted:
I'm posting the New Forewordto the book here too. I think it's self explanatory about the whole process. September should be fun. We expect to have copies for Toronto's annual Word on the Street Festival.
I'll be at the Ad Astra
convention held this weekend at the Crowne Plaza, Toronto Don Valley Hotel,
1250 Eglinton East. There's a book launch I want to attend on Friday evening
(March 31); as well, I have a Reading and will be on scheduled panels the
following Saturday and Sunday. Busy time. Good time.
March 19, 2006
Just finished our March Break here. Three playdates for Daniel (M,T,W) plus an overnighter to Niagara Falls (Th, F... a great suite, nice dinner, the mandatory Wax Museum). And today (Sunday), Merle, Daniel (age 5) and I saw The Shaggy Dog (actually, it's a great kids' film), which pretty much put a wrap on the vacation. Stopped and visited (and shopped at) The Book Depot in St. Catherine's on the way back. It's a terrific warehouse, stocked with remainders, open to the public. Every bibliophile in the environs knows of it, but this was the first time I'd ever actually been there. I'll be back.
Small update re the reissue of Children
of the Rainbow by Red Deer/Firzhenry & Whiteside (see Aug
3/05 entry below)...
Target date as of now is September 1, 2006. I've written a new Foreword, there will be an Afterword by Robert J. Sawyer, small changes and amendments to the text itself, and it'll get a new cover and be retitled Sailing Time's Ocean, giving its second life a truly new presentation. I'm looking forward to it.
Western (The University of Western Ontario) has been in touch with me about returning to teach creative writing again this fall (and perhaps spring). I've signaled my interest and things should be firmed up sometime in April. Something else I'm very much looking forward to. Will keep you posted.
Spring's starting. So long winter. We hardly knew
February 17, 2006
I'll make this entry a brief one about my 2 older sons (Conor, who turns 28 within 3 weeks, and Owen, who turned 25 yesterday). Conor is one of the writers who is producing and acting in a play being staged at the Neptune theatre in Halifax, Nova Scotia, from February 21 to March 12 (Soul Alone). I'm thrilled for him, and wish I could be there, but it doesn't look like it's in the cards. Here's a link to the production.
Owen turned 25 yesterday and has just been hired as a personal trainer at a local Goodlife Fitness Centre. He finished his physiotherapist assistant course (which included 320 hours of volunteer work at a physiotherapy clinic), where he got exceptional ratings and references. Again: I'm thrilled for him. He starts in March.
I get my kicks just watching them get somewhere.
Parenthood in a nutshell.
February 4, 2006
Rereading Alfred Bester's 1956 novel The Stars My Destination (first read in the 60s). Remarkable, really. I'm impressed. Flamboyant, extravagant, grotesque, fantastic, conceptually rich. Baroque. Jeez, not bad... I should do reviews again... Seriously: Bester is better than I remembered.
My birthday was Thursday, February 2nd. Merle and Daniel treated me fine -- beyond all expectations. Tom Potter and Chester Kamski took me to lunch yesterday, and Michael and Gina O'Gorman came over for dinner yesterday evening (Michael's birthday was February 3rd -- he's one day my junior... we go back to grade school together... Incredible.) I asked for (and got, from Merle) DVDs of seasons 1 & 2 of the 1950s Superman series starring George Reeves. Daniel and I watched an episode already. Great stuff.
If I wasn't gettin' so old, I'd say that things are just gettin' better!
January 2, 2006
And the New Year begins.
Everything worked out (I guess). Merle was off for 2 weeks (goes back to work on the 4th). Santa came and left lots of stuff. I heard Daniel tell a friend of his that his Christmas was "amazing." (That's a favourable assessment). Movies: the 3 of us saw King Kong, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and today, as I write this, Merle has taken Daniel and her mother to see Cheaper By the Dozen 2 (I passed on that one). I read Frank McCourt's Teacher Man. He's a great memoirist and raconteur -- and he speaks for all teachers. Bill and Judy Kaschuk were over for an evening; Michael and Gina O'Gorman were here for dinner and a great evening (December 23). Chester Kamski, Merle, Daniel and I went to an open house on December 18 hosted by Bill and Judy Reddall. Bill Reddall was Chester and my grade 9 English teacher a million years ago. It was a fine reunion. Tom, Will and Sam Potter were here for dinner yesterday (the kids watched Sky High on DVD). And back on December 14, we were invited out to Rob Sawyer's place for a small get-together for David Hartwell (my editor at Tom Doherty Associates, NY), who was in town for the Fenn sales conference (Fenn distributes their titles in Canada). I hadn't see David in more than 2 years (summer, 2003). I updated him about my teaching, family, etc., and he told me to write another book. I said I would. I said I needed the space and time and ability to focus that I just didn't have right now, but that it would come back. He left me with the impression that he was waiting, which was nice.
Christmas Day, Conor and Angela and Owen were here to join us for dinner. Owen got up early with Daniel to help him set up some of his presents. Merle abandoned the annual turkey for a ham this year, and it was a good decision. Good will all round.
New Year's Eve, Merle and I stayed home and ate Alaskan king crab legs and drank bubbly. Nicely, quietly decadent.
I got an Ergo, orthopedic pillow for Xmas. In
my advanced years, my neck and shoulder get sore in the night. I'm about
to wage battle against Time. Again.
December 10, 2005
My teaching at The University of Western Ontario is finished for now. Daniel will have me back home for the winter and spring. Last day was Tuesday, December 6. I visited a campus Tim Hortons before the 1:30 class, bought enough coffee and hot chocolate for the group of 22 and we had an informal (and enjoyable) final meeting. I delivered back their journals to them (handed in the previous Thursday). They handed in their last assignment (a short story), and those that wanted them back (complete with written feedback) provided me with a stamped, self-addressed envelope (an SASE in the biz) as well.
This is Saturday, the 10th. I've finished reading all the stories, mailed back the ones with envelopes attached, calculated final grades, entered them on the grade-software program used by the department and emailed them as an attachment to the Writing Program's Administrative Assistant. So it is truly over. (For now.)
Part of me misses the group already. It was a terific class. Part of me doesn't miss the twice-a-week long-distance drive at all (the worst was getting in and out of Toronto). But that was the trade-off. And it was worth it, in the final analysis.
I had a talk with Roger Graves and Shelley Clark (the Writing Program Director and Administrative Assistant respectively) the week before it all ended. They were enthusiastic about having me come back and teach at Western for them in the future and I was equally interested in continuing and evolving the course. We arrived at what I hope will be the future of WRITING 211, starting in Fall, 2006. They agreed to change it from its current schedule of 1-hour on Tuesday and 2-hours on Thursday to a single 3-hour class, 1 day a week. This would be ideal for both myself and the students. Clearly, the single day a week timetable simplifies my life immensely. But the chance to work for a solid 3-hour block of time will allow for workshopping of written work in a way that just wasn't possible in the split 1 & 2-hour set-up, with a class averaging around 20 students.
I'm delighted. Already I'm reading books and planning for September, 2006. I hope this will be the kind of ongoing and developing relationship between myself and Western's Writing Program that I hoped it could and would be when I started there September 1st. Simply: it has worked out as best as possible.
And now the Holiday Season...
Merle and Daniel are out shopping right now. I know I have to do it too. I can see myself now, wandering aimlessly about department stores and malls, my mind blank, fearful of disappointing everyone because I have no idea what I'm doing. Egad. *The Pressure.*
Wish me luck.
November 20, 2005
Daniel's 5th birthday yesterday. We celebrated with a joint party with his friend and classmate Ethan, who will turn 5 in a couple of weeks. 17 kids at a local Kids' Emporium and Playground called Fantasy Castle. Daniel's big brother, Owen, attended, and broke open the pinata for the gamg, to cheers all round. A great (if overblown) event: good fun.
Today was the 101st annual Santa Claus Parade
in Toronto, and we attended. Weather was good. Santa came to town and now
the next loop of holiday madness commences. We're gritting our teeth, bearing
down, and heading into the whirlwind!
November 16, 2005
Not much to say, but thought I should try anyway.
Teaching still going fine. Course ends December 6. Coming like a steamroller. I'm there tomorrow (Thursday) for a 2-hour class. Right now, we're beginning to write our own short stories. Intriguing challenge to convey the rudiments and get others on track (and reasonably inspired) for the task. Marking papers this evening to return to them tomorrow.
Daniel and Merle were in at Western London
with me back on November 3 (2 weeks ago) and I took Daniel to class with
me. He was so well behaved even I was impressed (and proud and delighted).
He turns 5 years of age this Saturday, the 19th, and he and Ethan (a classmate)
are sharing a party. Should be wild. Then the Santa Claus Parade the next
day (Sunday). I'll try to keep you posted.
October 15, 2005
Thanksgiving (Canadian date and style) was celebrated Monday, October 10. Turkey time. Conor and Angela and Daniel feasted with us on Sunday the 9th... Owen was at work, came in late, and devoured leftovers. Much to be thankful for.
My teaching adventure at Western still terrific. Doubt I'll be there 2nd semester (January to April, 06), but expect things to fall into place for next September (06) -- and hopefully make it an annual Fall opportunity. I'd like that.
Daniel and Merle and I spent today with Jan (Daniel's friend) and Eugene (Jan's father) and their family at a "fun farm" an hour or so north-east of Toronto. Animals, things for kids to do, picked apples, raspberries, got our pumpkin, and overrall enjoyed a pretty nice Fall day. Harvest time. Shadows lengthening.
Wonderfully tired right now.
September 29, 2005
Word on the Street was a fine event -- as ever. Sold lots of books, talked to lots of people, lots of exposure and lots of goodwill. I'd hazard a guess that the crowd size was down a bit from the previous year. Weather threatened rain most of the day.
Tom Potter and Will here for dinner Saturday the 24th. Will and Daniel watched Shark Boy and Lava Girl on DVD (put those 3D glasses on) afterward while the old folks got a chance to chew the fat like adults.
Still enjoying teaching at Western immensely (one month into the course). What a terrific oportunity and experience. Great class. I feel lucky.
Dinner last night with Michael O'Gorman at his place -- just the two of us... his wife's out of town (Merle will be out of town on business this coming weekend... Daniel and I will be batching it Sunday to Tuesday). Threw a couple of steaks onto the bbq and treated me to his homemade wine. Very nice. Daniel and I will probably have Kraft dinner...
September 11, 2005
An auspicious date above...
Quick update... The trip to Western and London (see Aug 25, below) was a success. Something for everybody. Merle and I celebrated our anniversary with Daniel at East Side Mario's -- the perfect choice with an almost-5-year-old accompanying. We had a small suite at the hotel, so even had a kind of privacy and space that felt luxurious. Managed a day-trip to Grand Bend on Georgian Bay, a big beach resort town. Kinda like taking a mini Fort Lauderdale or Daytona Beach and plunkin' them down in Ontario. A pop-cultural experience.
Back in Toronto on Monday the 5th (Merle's birthday), we went out to Mandarin for the buffet. Daniel had his friend Noah along. Again: fine time.
Fabulous weather. Meetings at Western on Tuesday the 6th, and my first class Thursday the 8th.. Simply: I enjoyed it immensely. A good group. About 20 students present. Got things started and looking forward to future classes. Teaching creative writing at this level is something I really want to do, and things have started well.
August 25, 2005
Summer sliding to its close. And what a summer. Hot, mostly. We'll be taking a small jaunt to London (Ontario) soon as a family and staying in a hotel (with a pool, for Daniel) for 2 nights (I'm going ahead to take care of some business at Western (University of Western Ontario). Merle and Daniel are coming on the train (complete with dining car!) to join me at the end of the first day. Owen, as usual, will be staying and taking care of the house and his own life. Other than that...
4 photos from the summer so far... Two are from
the cottage we rented on Haliburton Lake in July (see August 3 below).
Two were taken during a day-trip to the beach at Port Dover (on Lake Erie)
in early August (click to enlarge). It was all as good as it looks.
Evening on the dock:
baiting the hooks
hanging over us...
A perfect day...
...for building a sand castle...
Along with Toronto-area-based SF&F writers Robert J. Sawyer, Robert Charles Wilson, Karl Schroeder, Phyllis Gotlieb and Scott Mackay, I'll be at the SFWA (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America) booth at Toronto's annual Word on the Street Festival(free to the public), held at and around Queen's Park on Sunday, September 25, 2005. Last year it drew more than 200,000 people. I'll be there from 11 AM to 6 PM. It's always a great day, and a unique chance to meet a favorite author and get a signed book (great Christmas present!). Books will be plentiful... Lots of hard-to-find titles, most priced well below retail cost -- a specialty of the festival. Lots to do and see for kids too. Drop by and say hello if you can.
Full schedule for all the authors' appearances
at the SFWA booth (#167) at
Word on the Street:
Terence M. Green: 11 AM-6 PM.
Robert J. Sawyer: 11 AM-6 PM.
Scott Mackay: 11 AM-3 PM.
Karl Schroeder: 11 AM-1 PM.
Robert Charles Wilson: 1 PM-3 PM.
Phyllis Gotlieb: 3 PM-5 PM.
Ad Astra Convention Rep: 3 PM-5 PM.
August 3, 2005
Summer's flying by... The heat wave continues...
Daniel went to Mrs. Park's Summer Fun Camp for the first 3 weeks of July (9 AM to 2 PM, M-F). They have themed weeks. His 3 were Pirates, Bugs and Space. Doesn't get much better than that, folks. Then we were off to a rented cottage on Haliburton Lake, a few hours north of Toronto, where the summer weather continued to cooperate. Swimming, fishing, lolling about. Read the 2 books I got for Father's Day (see June 22, below) -- both excellent. On the way back, stopping at Kawartha Dairy in Minden for mandatory ice cream, I took a flyer and called old friend Roger Saarimaki at his cottage on nearby Canning Lake, and lo and behold he was around, so we spent the afternoon with him and Leigh and everyone else who dropped by, and had a fine time. Too many years pass by between visits.
Merle and her mother and Daniel are off visiting relatives in Midland, Ontario for a couple of days, so I took the opportunity yesterday to drive to Western (The University of Western Ontario) in London, a 2-hour jaunt, to get a better sense of where I'd be teaching in September. Met Roger Graves, the head of the Writing Program, who was both helpful and friendly, and with whom I look forward to working. Took care of some administrivia, sauntered about the campus, and came away with only positive vibes.
When I began to head out of the city on my way back to Toronto, the exhaust system in my 12-year-old Honda Civic gave way. Rather than drive 2 hours and go deaf, I scouted about for a shop that could repair it, but the work-day was over (close to 6 o'clock.) Booked myself into the Best Western Lamplighter Inn on Wellington, got some dinner (whitefish at Crabby Joe's), relaxed, and spent an unexpected night on a Simmons Beautyrest "Do Not Disturb" Superb Innkeeper (Firm) mattress. Bright and early next morning (8 AM) I was at the Speedy Muffler Shop down the road, where they pulled off the whole rotting mess and replaced it for only a small fortune. Anyway, I'm home. Just another big adventure.
Before I left for London, I got a phone call from Rob Sawyer, saying that he wanted to republish my 1992 novel Children of the Rainbow in the "Robert J. Sawyer" line of books that he edits for Canada's Red Deer Press. I'm very pleased. The novel has a curious history, as it was published originally by McClelland & Stewart, Canada's largest publisher -- their first (and last) venture into SF/F. They were unable to acquire a desired US co-publisher for the book, and it didn't sell well enough in Canada alone for them to want to continue with other similar books (in spite of some fine reviews... here's the Books In Canada one at the time...), so I moved (back) into the US market, ending up with Tom Doherty Associates (Tor and Forge Books) in New York for subsequent novels. What should have been a major breakthrough for Canadian SF/F writers never materialized. Truth be told, M&S didn't know anything about SF/F -- what it was, how to market it. A few enthusiastic members of the firm (at the acquisition and editorial level) wanted to get into the field, but it was never sufficiently supported at the top, so the book's life was short and its readership never international. Sometimes this is the way the business goes.
Rob Sawyer, on the other hand, does know the field, and there is definite support at the top. Red Deer Press has international distribution, so for the first time the novel will be available in the US, published and promoted by people who know and care about what they're doing in the field. They're targeting Fall 2006 publication, with a hoped-for launch at the World Fantasy Convention in Austin, Texas (Nov 2-5, 2006).
Good news indeed... Will keep you posted...
June 22, 2005
Father's Day was Sunday, June 19. I got new pajamas (needed), new garden pruning clippers (needed), lovely breakfast and dinner, and 3 new books (hardcovers of the new releases of 2 of my favorite writers: Robert Crais's The Forgotten Man and James Swain's Mr. Lucky) and the paperback of My Life: (Volume 1, The Early Years), by Bill Clinton. I'm 250 pages into the Clinton already (an interesting take on fathers and sons in its own way), and think I'll try to save ( and savour) the former 2 until we're off for a bit of break in July.
Signed the contract with The University of Western Ontario last week (see June 16 & April 19 below). I'm on faculty at the rank (and pay scale) of Lecturer. A whole new adventure on the horizon.
Had lunch with Tom Potter at Tim Hortons
today. Daniel at soccer tonight. Weather really nice. Things are good.
June 16, 2005
Just finished a crazy heat wave here in Toronto, with debilitating humidity (the word humidex has become a modern epithet). Not what we want when we think of summery weather. Rainstorms last night seem to have blown it away, and with it I'm quite amazed to find how much more energy everyone has. Didn't fully realize how sapping it was. Maybe I've even got the steam to write a. small entry here!
Lunch Sunday with Michael and Gina O'Gorman at their house in the west end -- a fabulous spot overlooking the Humber River. The heat was so oppressive, we had to move inside!
Was asked by The University of Western Ontario
to give them a list of textbooks to be used in September for the course
"Writing 211: Fundamentals of Creative Writing" (see April 19 below),
and came up with 3 plus 1:
On Becoming a Novelist, by John Gardner
What We Talk About When We Talk About Love, by Raymond Carver
Flash Fiction, ed. by Thomas, Thomas, Hazuka
Shadow of Ashland, by Terence M. Green
Although I don't believe it likely that folk will become novelists, the Gardner book is nevertheless one of the best I've read on the whole topic of creative writing. The Carver book -- of which I am a great admirer -- is a collection of his stories, all of which can lead to discussion and analysis of the craft and art of fiction. The Flash Fiction anthology contains 72 small fictions, many of which can serve as models and inspirations from which to proceed to one's own voice and vision. And my own Shadow of Ashland should be fun for them to read because I'm right there to ask questions about it, and there should be many. Teaching this course has become something foremost in my mind, and something I'm looking forward to more and more as the fall approaches.
And there have been some preliminary discussions regarding a story of mine in an upcoming anthology, as well as some renewed interest in the film option for Shadow of Ashland. But that's all still floating in the ether...
Daniel's JK world ends in 2 weeks. Unbelievable
how quickly the year went, in hindsight. He's there right now, and after
school, he's off to play with his friend Jan at his place. We still have
to see several movies, including Batman Begins, Madagascar,
Shark Boy and Lava Girl (in 3-D... those glasses!). Are these
the kind of films on your must-see list too?
May 9, 2005
The story Room 1786 will be broadcast on CBC Radio's Between the Covers (Canada's premier book-reading program, aired by over 400 stations nation-wide) Tuesday, May 17 at 2:30 PM and again at 10:40 PM (local Toronto time). It's the second part of a 10-day series entitled SIX IMPOSSIBLE THINGS, curated by Nalo Hopkinson.
Between the Covers airs on CBC Radio One, which is 99.1 FM in the Toronto area. (Check here for station frequencies in other areas.)
The description on the CBC Between the Covers website:
Hope you can tune in...
April 19, 2005
Got offered the opportunity yesterday to teach a credit course in the Writing Department in the Faculty of Arts and Humanities of The University of Western Ontario (located in London, Ontario, pop. 500,000 -- some 2 hours west of Toronto), and accepted. It'll mean being on campus only 2 days a week (Tuesdays and Thursdays), commencing in September, 2005.
The course is titled WRITING 211:"Fundamentals of Creative Writing." Classes will be Tuesday, 1:30 - 2:30 PM, and Thursday, 1:30 to 3:30 PM -- a total of 3 hours a week; it runs till December 31, making it officially a "half-course." Added to this will likely be a total of 3 more "office hours" per week -- to be determined on either/or/or both of Tuesday, Thursday as well.
Western has a student population of around 30,000, and is a venerable institution. I'm both pleased and excited. My experience at Mohawk College in 2003-2004 (see Sept 03 - June 04 below) was so positive that it led me to poking about, seeing what else (similar) might be available, and I feel fortunate to have this chance... (Especially at my age...)
I'll keep you posted.
April 10, 2005
Spring has sprung here: lovely, warm weather this past weekend. Changed the oil and oil filter on my motorcycle, polished it with turtle wax, and took it for a brief spin. Exhilarating. My good friend Tom Potter and his son Will (10 years old) were here for dinner last night, and we put on a video of Ghostbusters afterward for the kids. The adults ended up watching it too.
The previous week, Marcelle Dube from the Yukon (see March 20, below) was here for dinner and we had a great evening.
Domestic crisis: my automatic garage door opener is acting nuts. The door keeps goiing up and down non-stop. To get it to stay down, I have to wait until it settles and then unplug it. Repairman coming tomorrow or Tuesday. My teeth are gritted.
This weekend the annual Toronto SF convention Ad Astra was held at a hotel here, and I gave a reading from St. Patrick's Bed Saturday and sat on two panels today. Went well. Bought the new Gene Wolfe story collection Innocents Aboard there (with a great cover painting by Rene Magritte) and am loooking forward to reading it.
My son Conor (27 years old) is in Halifax for a few days this week. He and a friend (in the theatre) got a Nova Scotia Arts Council grant to write a play and produce it in Halifax, so he's out there. And in February he got an Ontario Arts Council "Theatre Creators' Reserve" grant to write a play here in Toronto. I'm delighted, and very proud.
Got word that my 1982 short (very short) story "Room 1786" will be read on CBC Radio's Between the Covers, as part of a larger programme featuring short fiction (called Flash Fictions), sometime near the end of May. Will announce times/dates when I know them.
Still working on my income tax return. Kafkaesque.
March 20, 2005
Lots of recent reading and DVD/videos...
Saw the 2003 film (DVD) The Human Stain (see comment, March 2, below), based on Philip Roth's novel. Finest film I've seen in a long time. Read the Robert Crais novel Hostage -- on my son Conor's recommendation. It's a clinic on how to write fast-paced, page-turning commercial fiction. I enjoyed it immensely as such, and would like to see the Bruce Willis film (based on the book) that's just been released. (At the rate we get out, though, I'll probably wait to catch it on DVD/video.) Also read the novel The Searchers by Alan Le May -- the book on which the 1956 John Ford film starring John Wayne is based. A fine book, but I think the film (highly recommended) gives the story even more depth (that rarity: a film that betters the book).
March Break has started here. Merle took Daniel to the Ontario Science Centre today, where they have a wondeful kids' area and they were there the entire afternoon. I stayed home and did my son Owen's income tax. My own is hovering on the horizon -- a task that I never look forward to.
Marcelle Dube, who ran the Yukon Writers' Retreat
(that I was invited to as a guest instructor back in 2003), is visiting
Toronto this coming week, and will be joining us for dinner on March 22.
Looking forward to it for many reasons, the least of which is not the chance
to acknowledge and return the terrific hospitality I received while there.
March 2, 2005
Been getting lots of snow here in Toronto the last week or two. Shoveled again this morning. And Daniel's home from school today, sick -- bad cold. It's the first day he's missed since he started in September.
Fixed my downspout (see January 30 below), but not sure if it's a permanent solution. Time will tell. Saw both The Aviator and Million Dollar Baby in February, just so I'd know what the Oscars were about. Thought The Aviator was the more impressive of the two. Read Roth's The Human Stain. Very impressive. Watched the 1946 John Ford western My Darling Clementine on video last week, and enjoyed it immensely. Henry Fonda is magnetic.
Making serioius notes (and fumbling starts) to
a new novel. I think I've got a handle on it finally. Wish me luck.
January 30, 2005
Sunday afternoon. The cold and snow for the month has broken today, and we've got sun. Pretty nice. Now I can see how the ice has split the seam on the downspout of my eavestrough, and I'm scheming (and measuring) how to replace it.
Been re-reading some novels from bygone years and enjoying them. A Canticle for Leibowitz (probably been 25 years since I read it last) is as good as I remembered. And Gregory Benford's Timescape (last read in 1980) is another that holds up as well or better the second time around.
Bought a used hardcover of Paul Theroux's 1989 novel My Secret History and started it today. At page 50 already and looking good.
Saturday Night Event (i.e. -- last night):
popcorn, cheesies and beer or apple juice (depending on age), and watching
the 1981 (video) flick Raiders of the Lost Ark with Daniel
(born 2000). It's all new to him!
January 12, 2005
Had a great Christmas and New Year. Trust and hope the same was true for you. Santa left Spiderman City, new skates for Daniel, books for all of us, and sundry other stuff under the tree... and we now live in a DVD world (perhaps the last people we know to hop on this techno-train). Conor, Angela and Owen were all here too -- the way it should be.
Merle and I stayed home on New Year's Eve and had some crab legs and bubbly to help celebrate. On New Year's Day, good friend Tom Potter and his son, Will (10 years old) joined us for dinner, giving Daniel someone to play with for the evening. And thus we slide into 2005...
Already trying to book a cottage for a week this coming July. How's that for advance thinking?
Two copies of the Polish edition of Shadow of Ashland arrived in the mail today (see December 11, below). Neat. They did a good job... I'm impressed. Good motivation to try to get producing again...
It's actually raining today -- quite miserable.
Strange weather for January. I'm reading Philip Roth's The
Plot Against America. It's an incredible book -- most impressive
I've read in a long time. Puts most of the rest of us writers in our place...
December 11, 2004
Shadow of Ashland was published this month by Zysk, in Poland. Translator: Beata Hrycak. I don't have a copy yet, but here's the cover... Fascinating (click to enlarge):
Christmas right around the corner. Put the tree up yesterday. Try to remember/imagine what it's like to be 4 years old at this time of year, like Daniel in our house. He's in a definite whirl...
Saw The Polar Express at the movies last week with Daniel. It scared him. A good movie, but it wasn't the Christmas experience we were hoping for. We're looking forward to his concert at the school this coming Wednesday. Should be head-shaking incredible. And the latest (JK) class picture, taken earlier this fall (click to enlarge):
It's Saturday afternoon. There's a soft snow falling outside. The house
is transforming inside and out to the season.
November 21, 2004
Today was the 100th Annual Santa Claus Parade in Toronto, and Daniel and Merle and I attended, along with several hundred thousand others. The weather cooperated as well -- very nice... sun/cloud, about 10 degrees celsius. Our terrific fall weather continues. At 4 years of age (his birthday was 2 days ago), Daniel was the perfect age to appreciate the event, and that made it special fun.
And Parenting has been the name of the game this past weekend... Friday (I'm writing this on Sunday evening), we had Conor, Angela, Owen and Merle's mother here for Daniel's birthday, and Conor and Owen helped him put together his special present (the Hot Wheels Cyborg track, which he asked for). It's an amazing piece of nonsense. You have to be 4 years old. And Saturday afternoon, he had a kids' party here, with 6 friends, and we hosted that incredible event. Needless to say, we're whipped this evening -- but everyone's happy.
Life is good.
October 13, 2004
Thanksgiving (of the Canadian sort) came and went this past weekend, and we were the beneficiaries of more continuing fabulous fall weather. The turkey made its appearance, and Conor and Angela and Owen and Daniel and Merle and I wined and dined together, a gathering for which I honestly and easily give thanks.
JK is still a work-in-progress for Daniel, but we're getting our routines down nicely. He told me yesterday that I was right... School was fun.
Enjoying the soft sun and distinctly fall edge
to the weather. It's the best time of the year. Every day richer than the
last, because it just can't last.
September 28, 2004
The Word on the Street Festival was held this year in and around the Queen's Park circle here in Toronto, and according to newspaper reports attracted some 200,000 people. The weather cooperated and we had a stunningly lovely, September day. Participating at our SFWA booth: myself, Robert J. Sawyer, Robert Charles Wilson, Scott Mackay, Karl Schroeder, and Andrew Weiner, as well as a team promoting the annual Toronto Ad Astra Convention.
Had a chance to sell books, meet people, and hopefully
broaden our readership. A fine day. Tom Potter and his son, Will dropped
by, as did former EYCI teachers George Heighington and Ted Anderson, and
one-time colleague Peter Paulseth. Also saw ex-students who were kind enough
to come up and say hello (and buy a book!). A big annual event here in
the city, and getting bigger...
September 10, 2004
Yesterday was one of those days a person has every 50 years or so. I had dinner with Michael O'Gorman, my boyhood "best friend" from grades 1, 2 & 3, who moved away back circa 1954-55, and with whom I was able to reestablish contact recently. We met at Yonge & Eglinton here in Toronto, about 3 blocks from our boyhood homes and the grade school we both attended, and settled in for 3 hours or so at a local restaurant for a remarkable evening of shared reminiscences and updating. I'm still a bit dizzy from it. He's done fabulously well, and I'm looking forward to similar get-togethers in the future.
Now this is time travel.
August 27, 2004
And 2 more photos from the recent vacation (see August 16, below), sent to us from my cousin, Jacquie, who viisted us there for an afternoon... (click to enlarge):
August 16, 2004
Back from a week's vacation (Aug 7-14) at a rented cottage on Steenburg Lake, about 150 miles northeast of Toronto. Weather wasn't the greatest, but we enjoyed ourselves. And Daniel caught a fish, so the trip was complete. I love our cottage country, and try to get there at least once a summer. Always stirs memories of my own boyhood, with my parents. Try to pass some of that on.
A few summary photos (click on each to enlarge):
Daniel & I in deep discussion
Marshmallows in the evening
Fishin' off the dock
July 25, 2004
This writing business... Hard to explain to others how things progress.. Two steps forward and one backward... I've been working on the beginning of a novel for some time now, and although I'm sure I've got something, it never quite satisfied. I've been having trouble making the main character sympathetic and someone with whom a reader might identify (given what he does)--both vital areas. I've tried exploring his thoughts and psychology in various ways, but always had a nagging feeling about it all. I think about it while I'm dressing, while showering, when I'm driving in the car... Whenever I seem to have a slightly glassy, otherworldly glaze on my face, I'm usually "writing," no matter where/when I am.
So I think I finally solved it. It'll involve rewriting most of what I've done to date (rewriting is always easier than writing, because you're working from something instead of from nothing). That's the way it goes sometimes. To the outsider, the final reader, it can appear so smooth, so seamless, that they seldom know the false starts, the dead ends that are encountered and must be backed up from, the rewriting that is what most writing consists of. I was reminded of this recently when I read an account of John Irving having turned in his latest novel, all written in the 1st person, and how he "suddenly realized" that it should have been written in the 3rd person, and how he asked for the manuscript back and delayed its publication while he rewrote the whole thing. Made my decision seem like small potatoes.
So I'm going to try a different approach and hope it leads the story where I want it to go. Once again into the breach. Wish me luck.
Daniel loved Bug Camp, so we enrolled him in the
next week's Space Camp. I think he's all camped out now. Today he's off
to Emmy's 4th birthday party. What a life!
July 10, 2004
As writer-in-residence at Mohawk College, I met
lots of great people. One of them was J.S. Porter, gentleman and scholar.
John teaches liteature there and is a fine writer and sensitive critic.
His book, Spirit Book Word, An Inquiry into Lterature
and Spirituality, deserves a much wider readership. He's recently launched
his own web site, and I wanted to provide a link to it for anyone interested.
I recommend it as a portal into a quiet, thoughful space, and an introduction
to an underrated writer. See for yourself: Spirit
Book Word (also linked at bottom of Main Page).
July 5, 2004
Had a lovely holiday weekend... Merle had 4 days off work, and we enjoyed the break. Took Daniel to see Spiderman 2 yesterday, and was very impresed. It's a terrific movie. We've been answering questions about Doc Ock ever since, so today I took him to Indigo Books to buy the Spiderman 2 book, then off to Zellers where we bought an action figure of Doc Ock. Everybody seems happy.
Two recent videos that we rented and thought highly of: In America, and Big Fish. Quite different from one another, but both moving, thought-provoking films. Reading Paul Theroux's Dark Star Safari, his travel memoir about the overland trip from Cairo to Capetown. Engrossing.
Next week (July 12-16) Daniel goes to a Summer Fun Camp (9 AM to 2 PM daily, for one week only). It's called "Bugs and Other Friends." Sounds perfect for a guy with his interests.
Off to McMaster University (Hamilton, Ontario) on Tuesday, July 20. I've been asked to give a workshop to the summer students who participate in the Shad Valley program. I've just learned about it myself (since being asked). It's a program located in 11 participating universities across Canada (McMaster being one), involving senior high school students who apply and pay for the privilege of being selected to partake of the "enriched" activities offered. [A web site link, if you're interested in further details: Shad Valley.]
Finished a draft of a short story this last month. Will keep you posted.
Summer's definitely here.
June 1, 2004
Ah, high school... My time there was 40 to 45 years ago, but when I see folks from then, it's only yesterday... and that's what happened. Bill Kaschuk and I have been friends for some 40 years now, and he lives locally, so we still manage to get together. But Larry Swain lives in Ottawa, and I last saw him 8 years ago, and before that, 20 years slid by. They both dropped by for an afternoon visit yesterday, as Larry was in town and made the requisite phone call to see if we were still compos mentis. Clearly, the jury's still out on that, but he visited anyway, and it was a great time. I'm still reeling from it. 40 years in the blink of an eye.
I'll be in Hamilton this coming Sunday, reading
at the Junction Cafe, so since I'm on the theme of reminiscing, a bit here
re my time as writer-in-residence at Mohawk College...
During my 2 semesters there, I handled 19 individual one-hour consultation/critiques with student/faculty/community writers. I was invited speaker in 21 different classes, averaging more than an hour per session. I conducted a 2-hour journalism workshop for Darryl Hartwick (Coordinator/Professor, Journalism & Communications Media), a one-and-a-half hour professional development session for Mohawk faculty (arranged by Cate Walker-Hammond), was Keynote Speaker at the OASFAA (Ontario Association of Student Financial Aid Advisors) Fall Conference, attended by multiple representatives of every college and university in Ontario, and delivered a one-hour public lecture ("The Naked Writer"), attended by more than 50 people. In addition, Christine Cox of The Hamilton Spectator ("average daily readership of 260,000 adults") attended one of my class visits, accompanied by a staff photographer, and the result was much positive publicity for Mohawk (cf. article online) And this is just what I can remember sitting here. All this--good memories all--will float about in my head as I drive down the QEW on Sunday,
April 30, 2004
Domestic and family stuff this last few weeks... Attended my brother's (Dennis's) daughter's wedding on April 17. Vanessa asked our Daniel to be the ring bearer, but at the last minute he froze and Merle became the ring-bearer-bearer down the aisle--another memorable family moment. It was a good time, though--a rare chance to see distant family.
Had my garage vinyl-sided the last few days, so I'd never have to paint it again (as if I have nothing better to do with my money). Have to admit, though, it looks great. The same folks are coming back some time next week to install new sliding doors to the back deck, so I don't have to struggle with them ever again. As you can see, I'm beginning to doubt the wisdom of spending time battling real estate entropy.
Next week we meet with the teacher, Mrs. Brown, who will be in charge of Daniel's junior kindergarten class next September. (Mrs. Brown, this is Mr. Green). Should be a slice.
Things are good. Will keep you posted.
April 6, 2004
Today was my last day as writer-in-residence at
College for the semester. I won't be back for the spring or summer
terms, but the Language Studies Department would like to bring me back
in September, if it's in the upcoming (still unresolved) budget picture,
so it's out of my hands. Simply: I enjoyed it immensely, and would welcome
the (relatively rare) opportunity to continue in the post. It was a unique
opportunity, and I have nothing but good things to say about the people
and work being done at Mohawk.
March 20, 2004
Merle and Daniel accompanied me to Mohawk College yesterday (Friday). Merle had never been, and Daniel got a chance to see "where Daddy goes to work." My contract there expires at the end of this semester (April 23), and they might not get another chance to visit (although things are still being decided at Mohawk regarding September; I would enjoy it very much if the position continues).
From Hamilton we continued on to Niagara Falls
overnight, where we had a suite booked overlooking the Falls. It's a great
spot for kids. There's lots of mindless stuff to do, and Daniel enjoyed
it (and we enjoyed his enjoyment). Back home today, tired. Good time.
February 26, 2004
Sunny outside (but still winter with lots of snow on the ground). Daniel's friend Garrett is here today as a playmate. They're downstairs now, discussing whether they'll play Rescue Heroes, Spiderman or Power Rangers. It's a big decision.
Feeling much better (see January 31, below). Still think I'm more tired than I should be, but...
Will be speaking next Wednesday, March 3, at St. Francis Xavier Secondary School, a local secondary school in nearby Mississauga, during their "Celebrate Reading" week. Looking forward to it. The next day, March 4, I speak to a class of 45 music students at Mohawk College (Hamilton). It's been suggested I compare the composition of a piece of writing to a piece of music, and the value of each. Looking forward to that too.
January 31, 2004
Under the weather the last couple of weeks. Turns out I've got what my doctor called a "patch of pneumonia" in my left lung. I've had fever, chills, headaches, lack of energy and appetite, coughing too much, and a chest full of crud. I'm in the middle of 10 days of antibiotics. Other than all that, life is beautiful.
I was able to get a good portion of the beginning of the new novel on paper this last month. Will be reporting on it more regularly this spring I trust, as it takes more shape.
There's been a flurry of renewed interest in my novel Shadow of Ashland in the city of Ashland itself. Several letters to the editor about it (it's being rediscovered) have appeared this week in the city's paper, the Daily Independent, and there's some interest in having me visit the city for their 150th birthday in September of 2004. I've been talking (phone, email) to a couple of people in Ashland about it this week, and will follow up further. We'll see what happens. I'd love to go back for a visit -- especially under such circumstamces.
January 1, 2004
Both the Batmobile and the tool bench (see Dec 15, below) showed up under the Xmas tree, as did sundry other goodies.
Conor and Angela stayed over Xmas Eve to be here for the next morning's excitement--as seen through the eyes of 3-year-old Daniel. Owen and his friend Laura were also here. The Xmas turkey made its annual appearance. A smooth, lovely event.
Merle and I stayed home last night (New Year's Eve), ate some snow crab, popped a small bottle of inexpensive bubbly and celebrated by watching the countdown on TV, then retired to sit in front of the fireplace with our bottle of wine. Owen stayed in as well, and he and Laura ate dinner and celebrated by themselves in his place downstairs. Our holidays have been incredibly civil and enjoyable. Add to it all the uneasonably warm (and welcome) weather, and it's been really good.
Daniel starts nursery school Monday, January 5.
He'll be attending 3 days a week (M,W,F) from 9 AM to 11:30 AM.
I start back at Mohawk College Monday January 12--with 2 appointments already booked for that day.
Happy New Year!
December 15, 2003
We actually got him onto Santa's knee. He asked for a tool bench and a Batmobile. Santa thought both were possible, so he's got his fingers crossed. (Click photo to enlarge).
November 30, 2003
Got a couple of recent photos of Daniel that I wanted to post here... A great Halloween shot, and a 3rd birthday party (with playmate Garrett)... Click on each to enlarge.
November 26, 2003
It's been public speaking time as Writer-in-Residence...:
On Tuesday, November 18, I had lunch with outgoing Mohawk President, Cal Haddad in a nice restaurant overlooking Hamilton Harbour at the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce. Cal is retiring at the end of 2003, and even though I've known him only briefly, I feel like I know him well. He tells me he'll be travelling. I think he'll find something else at his level to interest him within a year or two. Cal Haddad made many innovations at Mohawk in his tenure there, including my post. He tells me he's also instituted 2 musicians-in-residence for next semester, as well as extending my position. If only all college presidents could see their way so clearly to the benefits of supporting the Arts. May his successor have his vision and sense of innovation.
[Oh yes... The Globe and Mail published the book review
I mentioned (see Sept. 11/03 entry below) back on
November 1st. If interested, you can click here.]
November 8, 2003
For anyone out there who might be interested...
I'm scheduled to give a one-hour public talk at noon, Wednesday, November 12, at Mohawk College (Fennell Campus) in Hamilton. The topic has been posted as:
I'll be in Room C114. Directions
to Mohawk College can be attained by clicking on this link.
October 31, 2003
I'll be back as Writer-in-Residence at Mohawk College again in the second semester (January - April, 2004). We created a situation that would work for all of us, and agreed on the terms today. The major difference is that I'll only be on campus one day a week instead of two, as is currently the case. Something like this: 3 Mondays in a row, then 3 Tuesdays, then 3 Wednesdays, etc.... All else remains essentially the same.
The Canada Council isn't a part of it this time. It's strictly a deal between myself and Mohawk, based on our mutual satisfaction with how well things are going this semester. I'll be there as "part-time faculty."
I'm very pleased. I'm working with good people.
This is a unique situation, and I consider myself lucky to be a part of
October 23, 2003
The Hamilton Spectator today ran a very nice piece about my Writer-in-Residency at Mohawk College. The writer of the article, Christine Cox, spent time interviewing me and folks in the Language Studies Department last Thursday (Oct 16), and came with a photographer to a talk I gave to a group of students on Tuesday (Oct 21). The result is fine press for Mohawk (in fact, they've posted the article on their website), and a positive look at the advantages of hosting such a post for students and faculty in Ontario colleges.
Hamilton, Ontario is a city of 500,000. The Spectator is the dominant newspaper for the city and area.
If interested, I've posted the original HERE.
(There's the start of an attempt to bring me
back to Mohawk for a second semester... Things to be worked out
still... Will keep you posted.)
September 30, 2003
It's Tuesday. Sunday's Word on the Street Festival has come and gone, and ranks as a great success. Newspapers reported 170,000 people out and about, strolling past the tables and booths on Queen Street. Met readers, sold books and enjoyed the day immensely. And we got good weather (well... until it cooled down later in the day, then these old bones felt it).
The October 2003 issue of The New York Review of Science Fiction showed up in my mailbox yesterday, and there staring at me was the lead article: Growing into Writing: An Autobiographical Essay (by Terence M. Green), complete with 2 photogeaphs taken by David Hartwell during his August visit to Toronto. The amazing thing is that it got into print so quickly. If you know anything about the writing/publishing business, this is unheard of. Everything usually moves at a snail's pace (this is not a business for the impatient). Be interesting to see if there's much (or any) response) to the piece, in the form of letters of comment, since a personal essay of this sort isn't the magazine's usual fare.
At Mohawk today, I visited a class to talk
about aspects of effective description (as asked by the teacher). It's
been quite a while since I've been in the classroom (4 years since my retirement
from teaching), and I enjoyed the experience very much.
I'm slated to visit another class tomorrow.
September 26, 2003
Finished another week at Mohawk College. Still enjoying the experience very much (the drive there and back less so). It's really going to pick up in the next few weeks, though, and get busier.
Going to a wedding tomorrow. Conor and Angela coming over to look after Daniel. He's looking forward to it. And Sunday (day after tomorrow) will be the Word on the Street Festival in Toronto. I'll be at the SFWA tables (66 & 68, near Duncan and Queen) all day
David Hartwell (my editor at Tor/Forge Books in NY) sent a handful of photos (arrived in the mail today) that they took while visiting here (see Septembe 6/03 entry below) during Torcon in late August. Here's one I like... (Click to enlarge)... Me and Daniel, David and Elizabeth:
September 11, 2003
Spent today (Thursday) and Tuesday at Mohawk College, Mostly, it was a matter of meeting folks, filling in forms, setting up, getting a key to my office, learning where the washrooms are (and other vital info of that sort). But I did enjoy myself very much, and am heartened by everything so far. It looks like it'll be a great experience. I feel very fortunate to have happened upon all this. I've booked a couple of appointments and had a request to visit and speak to 2 classes in early October, so word is spreading that I'm out and about. It's a start.
The New York Review of Science Fictionwill be reprinting my autobiographical essay (see August 20 entry below) in an upcoming issue. And I've agreed to do a book review for The Globe and Mail (Canada's National Newspaper), who asked. I haven't reviewed for them since my last stint (1988-1990), in spite of offers. Once I started to write and publish my own novels, it was something that just slipped aside. But the one they've asked for sounds interesting, and I'd like to do it.
And Daniel has taken nicely to going down the street to Sandra's, playing with the other kids and spending his day in a completely new environment. It seems to be working fine for him too, and this is really the important part.
September 6, 2003
The World SF Convention was held here in Toronto (first time in 30 years) August 28-September 1. About 4,000 people involved--fans, readers, editors, publishers, writers, etc. Had a chance to have dinner with editor David Hartwell and his family (here from New York), participate on some panels, and in general, enjoy the event.
One of my best friend's daughters got married (a telltale sign of my age?) on August 30. Conor and his friend Angela looked after Daniel for the day. It was, as a result, a great day for all.
And yesterday, I attended a get-together at Mohawk College, getting to know a few more people. Getting myself organized for next week. Will keep you posted...
New photo taken last week in August of Conor, Owen, Daniel. Click to enlarge. Enjoy.
August 28, 2003
I describe the Yukon Writers Retreat in
the May 14 & 20, 2003 entries below. I've finally gotten around
scanning in a few photos from that event... Click to enlarge.
Dinner, first night in Whitehorse:
left, front to rear:
right, front to rear:
W.D. (Bill) Valgardson
Evening get-together with participants at local watering hole, Haines Junction
Lunch on the outdoor deck of the bakery/restaurant in Haines Junction... with the spectacular backdrop of the Yukon
Through the windows of the St. Elias Convention Centre, Haines Junction, where the retreat was held... with those
spectacular mountains again
August 20, 2003
Posting a link to the 10,000 word Autobiography
written for Contemporary Authors (see July 2 and April
15 entries below), for anyone interested.
August 10, 2003
Bought a new printer/copier/scanner (and notebook computer) finally, so will try to post up a few pictures of the cottage vacation (described July 31 below). My technology skills are getting a real workout. The learning curve with new computer equipment is pretty steep...
Click photos to enlarge.
July 31, 2003
The week of July 19-26 was our annual cottage rental week. This year, we were at Baptiste Lake, some 160 miles north-east of Toronto, in Ontario cottage country, and had been looking forward to it for months. We were sure this would be a terrific time for Daniel (age 2-and-a-half), and a much needed break for us. Wellll... it wasn't quite how we'd envisaged. (Things seldom are). Our first shock came via the fact that Daniel didn't really want to be there. We listened to variations on "I want to go home" for a few days, until it settled down (but never quite disappeared). Weather was iffy--terrific one day, stormy the next... Two days after we arrived, Merle got a call that her aunt--her mother's sister, Eileen--had died (back in Toronto). Wednesday, she drove the 3 hours back, attended the services with family, and returned that evening. Exhausting experience, physically and emotionally. Daniel and I stayed at the lake, and had quite a nice day, all things considered. It was after this mid-week downturn that he seemed to calm and enjoyed what was left of our time there. On the way home, Saturday, we stopped into Madoc and visited with my cousin, Jacquie (and Jo-Anne) and dogs Annie and Skipper. Daniel liked them.
Once home, Monday, July 28, I was taken to lunch in Hamilton by Jim Jones and Heather Kays of Mohawk College, given "the tour," and a glimpse of what awaits me next month when my writer-in-residence appointment begins. It's a one-hour car ride, door to door, one that I'll be doing twice a week starting in September, but I'm looking forward to the whole experience very much.
It's 9 PM. Daniel's asleep. Merle and I are going
to get a glass of wine and watch a video. Small pleasures, but exquisite.
July 2, 2003
Finished the 10,000 word Autobiographical Essay (see April 15 entry below) that I was working on for Contemporary Authors back at the end of May. I'm quite pleased with the piece, and the folks who commissioned it were too. I expect to get copy-edited proofs some time this month.
And Jim Jones, Head of the Language Studies Department at Mohawk College (where I begin the writer-in-residency, September, 2003) has been in touch. Going to meet him for a tour of the college (and lunch) on July 28, after we both have a bit of a summer holiday.
And it is summer here. Temperatures hot, skies
sunny, city wading pools open. Got a regular destination most days (local
wading pool) with Daniel.
May 20, 2003
It's about 2 PM, Toronto time. I'm back home from the Yukon (see May 14 entry, below). Flew in late last night (Whitehorse to Vancouver to Toronto).
Summary? It was a terrifice event and a terrific time. And yes, I'm tired, but that's okay. It'll pass.
Whitehorse (population approx 20,000) is a unique place, as is the entire Yukon region. One senses being at the edge of everything. Haines Junction (pop. approx 800) was spectacular--breathtaking backdrop of mountains and snow-capped peaks. And it truly is the Land of the Midnight Sun at this time of year... Sunlight when you come out of a restaurant at 11 PM is something that has to be experienced to be really believed.
Hosts and organizers Marcelle Dube and Barb Dunlop ran a truly first-rate conference/workshop, with first-class meals and accommodations and thoughtfulness all spread evenly around. About 30 people attended. There is a fertile bed of writers in the area, isolated to some degree, hungry for interaction with the larger writing community. The workshops and participants were all stimulating and delightful. There is every reason to believe that the weekend was not only worthwhile for them, but that it will bear fruit: I fully expect to see several participants publish their work in future. I had the opportunity to browse through the evaluation sheets submitted by the participants on the last day, and was gratified to see that they were uniformly positive, when not bubbling enthusiastically.
I can recommend the entire experience without reservation, in the highest way possible.
Now if only it hadn't all happened so fast...
More, perhaps, when I get reclimatized.
May 14, 2003
I leave for the Yukon tomorrow.
Last weekend, I was contacted by the folks staging the Yukon Writers Retreat, who had had a sudden cancellation by a writer scheduled to speak and run workshops there this weekend. They were looking for someone to fill the spot -- on very short notice (What are you doing this weekend? Like to come to the Yukon?).
There will be 30 or so participants. They offered air fare, hotel accommodation and incidental expenses, plus a respectable fee -- all in themselves quite interesting. But the real lure was the chance to see country I would be unlikely to ever visit. The opportunity to see this section of Canada, combined with involvement with writing and writers, was unique.
Merle will take 2 days off work (Thursday and Friday) to look after Daniel. This is the long weekend in Canada, so she will have 3 more days after that. She's looking forward to her time with him. We're both looking forward to the small break in our routines. And so...
I fly to Whitehorse tomorrow, then on to Haines Junction by car the next morning for Friday, Saturday and Sunday. On Monday, back to Whitehorse for the flight home. Tuesday, normal life resumes.
Definitely a whirlwind. I'll let you know about
it when I get back.
April 15, 2003
Contemporary Authors, a reference series of volumes marketed primarily to libraries, has invited me to write an autobiographical essay to accompany the entry they currently have on me. This is fairly prestigious, since each volume of CA contains approximately 325 sketches of writers in various fields and genres, as well as (only) 3 of these specially commissioned autobiographical essays. These essays, accompanied by personal photographs provided by the author, blend personal reminiscences with reflections on individual works in a way that provide "new insights for the researcher or student and lively reading for those simply interested in learning more about their favorite author."
They've asked for 10,000 words (approximately 40 manuscript pages). This is professionally contracted writing, paid for with professional rates.
I have agreed to do it. Sounds both challenging and potentially rewarding. They want it fairly quickly, so I'll be spending the next month or so on it. When it gets done, I'll post a link to it on my web page for those interested.
Autobiography... Wonder what I'll end up saying?...
March 20, 2003
A bit more about the Writer-in-Residence position at Mohawk. (See March 18 below too)...
To stress how fortunate I feel... This is the first time in 23 years that an Ontario community college has hosted a Writer-in-Residence. The only other to hold such a post was Canada's "Master Gatherer," John Robert Colombo -- also at Mohawk -- back in 1980. To date, libraries and universities have been the sole bailiwicks of the Writer-in-Residence.
One of 20 inaugural colleges established in Ontario in 1965 as new alternatives to university, Mohawk now has campuses in Hamilton and Brantford, and serves 9,500 full-time and 40,000 part-time students throughout the Hamilton-Wentworth, Brant, and Haldimand-Norfolk area of south-western Ontario. The community colleges have come of age--especially in the 21st century, when it comes to practical preparation for the world. The number of university graduates who now enrol in a community college program after completing a university degree is truly eye-opening.
I've been in touch with John Robert Colombo (above),
and he assures me I'll enjoy it. I'm sure I will too.
March 18, 2003
Heard today that the Writer-in-Residenceposition at Mohawk College (Hamilton, Ontario) is confirmed for September, 2003. (See Aug 15/02 & July 15/02 entries below). Looking forward to it very much. Hamilton is about 40 miles/60 km from Toronto. The plan now is for me to drive there twice a week--Tuesdays and Thursdays. More info as the date approaches...
Weather broke this past few days. Spring is teasing
us. Daniel can finally get outside. It's been a long, cold winter.
February 17, 2003
Business (domestic, family) as usual for the past 2 months. Daniel (at 2 years, 3 months) takes all our time, which is probably as it should be, and life is fine. Finished the fireplace myself with a tile hearth and oak trim. Looks good (if I do say so myself). Tom Potter, Bill and Judy Kaschuk were over in January, Ken and Judy Luginbuhl and Chester Kamski and Jennifer and Evelyn Rose here in February, and planning Gary and Carol Reilly and Greg and Donna Hughes here mid-March. Social life restarting, slowly. Had our downstairs wooden floors (oak, birch) redone in January by Rick Nice and Doug Smith--two of my old teaching mates who are now in the business. The floors look pretty spiffy--but put us out of commission for two weeks. And just this last weekend we traveled to Madoc, Ontario, for my cousin Jacquie's 75th birthday. It was a good family reunion. Saw Dennis (and family), Anne, Jo-Anne and Bob (and family), Kevin and Sheila, and loads of others. And when we got back Sunday, it was Owen's 22nd birthday, so we had our second cake of the weekend. (Oh yeah... forgot... my own birthday was February 2nd, so it's been a cake month...)
According to the weather guy on TV, it's been
the coldest winter in nine years. I believe it. Zow. Cold. I think I'm
finished with it. 'Nuff. Bring on Spring!
December 23, 2002
Two days to Xmas, and trying to get everything in place. We had a wood-burning fireplace installed earlier this month in our new (as of June, 2002) home, and it should get a nice workout in the next few days. Our Yule Logs are of the supermarket, 3-hour variety, but still function as terrific mood-enhancers. Make the house seem more like our home.
Loaded up on stuff for Daniel. He's currently very big on Buzz Lightyear (a character from "Toy Story") stuff, so we've catered to that. It's the theme this year. Recharging the battery on the camcorder to get it all for posterity.
Conor is coming for Xmas. Owen is out of town from today till the 25th, but will be back late Xmas day. If you discount the Norwalk virus Daniel and I suffered through the past few days, all is sailing smoothly.
Ordinarily, I'd post a Xmas photo here, but my
scanner is currently on the blink (along with my fax... techno-entropy
creeping in...), so I'll just wish a Great Holiday to All. Enjoy.
November 26, 2002
The CBC Radio single-voice broadcast of Shadow of Ashland began yesterday. I've heard the first 2 instalments (of 10) so far, and although it's edited and abridged to fit timelines, it's a fine dramatic rendition, and I recommend listening. I'm enjoying it immensely.
See the November 4 entry below for more details...
Daniel's 2nd birthday was November 19. Slipslidin'
November 4, 2002
Air dates, finally...Word today that Shadow
of Ashland will be broadcast on CBC Radio's Between the Covers,
November 25 through Friday, December 6, 2002. Produced in Vancouver,
it is read by Michael Hogan, a well-respected theatre and television actor.
the Covers is "story time" for grownups, featuring contemporary
novels and short stories read in 15-minute instalments. It airs weekdays
at 2:30 PM, and again weeknights at 10:40 PM. In the Toronto area, its
frequency is 99.1 FM. For the frequency band in your area, you can check
the following link: CBC
October 9, 2002
Word on the Street (Sunday, Sept. 29) went well. It always does. Besides myself, our booth had fellow authors Rob Sawyer, Phyllis Gotlieb, Scott Mackay, Edo van Belkom and Robert Charles Wilson. Among us, hundreds of books were sold. And I get a lot of interesting, valuable, and welcome feedback on my books from readers who stop by.
Thanksgiving (Canadian-style) is this weekend. The turkey's been bought. Owen (and Daniel, of course) will be here for dinner. Conor is in Halifax. He left two weeks ago... acting in a play there for four more weeks. We won't see him until early December.
I'm still workin' hard at parenting. Daniel is too cute for words. My
new book goes slowly. Stay tuned...
September 7, 2002
Our anniversary was September 2, and Merle's (my wife's) birthday was September 5, so to cover all the bases we booked a junior suite at the Harbour Castle Westin "with a full lake view" on September 1st,. And we took Daniel (along with a nice bottle of wine, donated by my cousin, Jacquie), had room service bring us dinner, and spent a day at Toronto's Centre Island with him as well. Very nice time, great weather. It's still summer-like here--hot, in fact.
A few late-summer photos (Click to enlarge):
At Kew Gardens in the Beaches
Eating raisins at the Wiggles Concert, Ontario Place
With Mom on the merry-go-round at the CNE
Relaxing in my own back yard...
If interested and in the Toronto area...
I'll be at Toronto's annual Word on the Street Festival, Sunday, September 29, 2002, from 11 AM to 6 PM--at the
SFWA Booth in Writers' Block, near Queen West and Duncan.
August 19, 2002
Got 2 advance copies of the trade paperback edition of St. Patrick's Bed in the mail today. Looks great. Official publication date is September 1, 2002, so it's not in the stores yet (but will be soon!)
The Globe and Mail did a very nice review
of the novel back at the end of March. (If interested, you can read it
by clicking here: The Globe and Mail.)
August 15, 2002
Rented a nice cottage on Horseshoe Lake (near
Minden-Haliburton, north of Toronto) for the week of August 3-10. This
summer has been one of the hottest on record--and one of the most uncomfortable
because of the humidity. It was good to get away for the week. Also visited
with old friends Roger and Leigh Saarimaki for a bit, at their cottage
on Canning Lake in the area. A few photos... (Click to enlarge):
Daniel and I at the nightly fire pit
Daniel has his first ice cream cone
at Roger & Leigh's cottage
And Mohawk College and I have begun the process
of resubmitting the proposal for the Writer-in-Residence to the Canada
Council for next year. Via email and phone, been getting forms and information
prepared the last few days. Going to make the October 1 deadline this time.
July 26, 2002
I received the same fine news today that I received 2 years ago (almost 2 years to the day): The City of Toronto, through the Toronto Arts Council's 2002 Grants to Writers Program, has awarded a $4500 grant for the book I'll have fully underway this fall (it has a couple of working titles, so I'll wait before naming it). I've been dabbling at it up till now. This is good motivation, and will ease things considerably. The last book they supported turned into St. Patrick's Bed. Good track record.
Raining outside right now. Humid. Daniel's sleeping. And it's Friday. Great way to start the weekend...
And 2 recent photos... One from July (hot, in
kiddy pool, back yard), the other from June (cooler, soccer ball, front
Click to enlarge.
July 15, 2002
Summer has hit Toronto this month. It's been hot and sunny for a couple of weeks now, and I'm going to fill up Daniel's kiddy pool again today. Nice.
Settling into the new house continues. Slowly, it's becoming ours. We lived in our old house for 14 years, so it's going to take some time... The area is lovely, and I like sitting out on our back deck. Trees, garden, blue jays, cardinals, mourning doves, crows, sparrows, starlings...
A dose of reality: my wife's (Merle's) brother died June 27. Paul was 62, a recently retired teacher who lived with his family in Midland, Ontario (on Georgian Bay). As a result we've spent some sobering time of late, here and in Midland.
Owen is now working at Home Depot near us, and enjoying the job.
My position as writer-in-residence at Mohawk College, will have to wait another year. The college missed the Canada Council deadline for funding the position. It was last October 1st, and we didn't get the ball rolling until January of this year. So the new application will go in this October 1st for 2003.
Renting a cottage north of Toronto for the week of August 3rd. Fingers crossed for this weather!
June 16, 2002
We're in our new home--a very nice, detached, 3 bedroom house with a private drive and garage in the Leaside area of Toronto. This makes it very close to Merle's work and there are good schools for Daniel. Back between 1978 and 1985 I lived in the area, so feel that I know it well.
Considering the distance was only about 4 miles, the move was overwhelming. It began at 10 AM on June 3 and didn't end until 1 AM the next morning. We were all totally exhausted. The movers told me I had too many books. (Huh?)
We're still settling in. Every day is filled with things that need to be done, big and little, but we're looking forward to sliding back into some comfortable routines.
Daniel has adjusted best, perhaps... And ain't
May 23, 2002
Haven't been as able to keep folks posted as regularly as I'd like, due to the upcoming move. And it'll completely shut down for a few days while the actual change of residences occurs surrounding June 3. Most things are in boxes even as I type this. Things are tumbling into place.
Conor (son, age 24) got his own apartment a few weeks back, so there was a move of sorts within The Move. Owen (son, age 21) is coming with us, and has been helpful. Right now, he's looking for work, and trying to get his own future settled more clearly, and we've all been involved in that as well.
And Daniel is a year-and-a-half! Amazing.
I'll try to keep you posted... Bear with me...
April 12, 2002
Hectic and busy... That's what's been going on here. We've just been through a run of a few weeks in which we bought a new house and sold the one we've lived in for the last 14 years. If you've traveled that route yourself, you know what I mean. (If not, take my word for it: there are less stressful ways of spending time.) But it was worth it, and as someone once said, all's well that ends well, and we're very pleased with the end result. Now if I can convince my banker when I meet with him next week about what a great guy I am...
Moving Day is June 3--only 7 weeks away. Gotta
start gettin' those boxes...
March 27, 2002
It was 30 years ago (1971-72... unbelievable) that I attended University College, Dublin, where I did an MA in Anglo-Irish Studies. It was a watershed year in many ways, as you can well imagine. Recently, the UCD alumni magazine, UCD Connections, asked me for a bit of a reminiscence, and I wrote a small piece that they included in their most recent issue. I have a copy of the magazine naturally, but web browsing this evening, I came across it, reproduced very nicely on the UCD Alumni site. Thought some might enjoy it, so Here's The Link if you're interested. (It's in pdf format... if you're having trouble reading it due to its size, once opened, near the bottom left corner you'll find a magnifying glass icon. If you click on it, you can enlarge the page as you wish.)
March 12, 2002
Been busy with Daniel (approaching 16 months old), and we've both had bad colds which needed antibiotics. But the worst seems to be over for now. The Dayton Daily News did a nice piece on St. Patrick's Bed for their Sunday, March 3 edition, stressing the Dayton setting. They printed a photo of the book cover, and a pictiure of my friend in Dayton, Bill Erwin, and mislabeled it me, so now I'm virtually incognito any time I revisit the city!
My sons Owen and Conor turned 21 and 24 respectively,
on February 16 and March 7. Time marches on...
January 30, 2002
No sooner do I post the CBC Radio dates for Shadow of Ashland (see January 23, below) than I have to amend them. Got email today saying that the schedule was "on hold" until things were clear regarding the CANADA READS project, and that means that Shadow of Ashland "could air as early as the beginning of May but probably not until at least the end of May." That'll teach me.
Will keep you posted, though. Stay aboard for
January 23, 2002
CBC Radio (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation)
has confirmed the dates April 1-13, 2002 for the broadcast of
Shadow of Ashland. The show "Between the Covers" airs weekdays at 2:30 PM, and again weeknights at 10:40PM.
In the Toronto area, CBC One comes through on 99.1 FM. (There are more than 400 stations nation-wide. For the frequency band nearest you, CLICK HERE.)
December 17, 2001
A couple of nice photos of me and Daniel (at 1
year of age), taken at my niece's (Vanessa's) engagement party, back on
November 17... (my cousin Jacquie in foreground of 1st photo)... Click
December 12, 2001
Two days ago, Cal Haddad, President of Mohawk College offered me the position of Writer-in-Residenceat Mohawk College, commencing September, 2002... Mohawk is a post-secondary College of Applied Arts and Technology in Hamilton, Ontario (40 miles west of Toronto), with some 8000 full-time and 50000 part-time students, on 66 acres.
It'll entail holding office hours at the College (probably two 3-hour sessions per week) to work with writers and manuscripts, working on new material of my own while there--as well as some degree of involvement in the whole Hamilton-Wentworth arts community.
I accepted. We're definite about one term (September to January), and if we both agree, it may last a second term as well. I'm looking forward very much to the experience and the challenge.
Strange things happen... It's a position that I didn't go seeking, but, rather, came my way by a fortuitous set of circumstances, as Cal Haddad and I became aware of each other and our positions in our respective fields. He suggested it, and once the seed was planted, I could see only positive things for all concerned.
Good news indeed! I'll keep you posted...
November 20, 2001
I'm not as efficient as I should be at keeping readers posted about upcoming events, but at the last moment I thought of mentioning this...
In addition to the event tonight (Tuesday, November 20--see previous update), at 7:30 PM, part of a Reading Evening featuring myself, Robert J. Sawyer, Charles de Lint, Peter Watts and Robert Charles Wilson, at University of Toronto's Hart House (part of the U of T Bookstore Reading Series), I'll also be reading from St. Patrick's Bed tomorrow evening (Wednesday, November 21), at 7:30 PM. I'll be at Chapter's, Richmond and John Street (Toronto).
The real news: Daniel is 1 year old, as of yesterday.
One year. Already.
November 11, 2001
We launched St. Patrick's Bed at P.J. O'Brien, the upscale Irish pub and dining room behind the King Edward Hotel in downtown Toronto, in the evening, back on Tuesday, October 30. Nobody counted, but a fair estimate might be that a crowd of 120 or so supporters and well-wishers showed up to help celebrate. Family came from Sudbury (Ruth) and Madoc (Jacquie, Jo-Anne and Bob), and friends from as far as Orillia (Harry and Judy Demuth), Montreal (Harold Hoefle) and Dayton, Ohio (Bill and Patty Erwin). And I always love to be surprised by the faces I see at such events... Faces from past and present. It means more than I can express, and in and of itself makes the writing of the book such a life-expanding experience, because without the book, we'd never get together in such a way. It's part of the magic ripple that follows the publication of a novel, and the outpouring of goodwill on the part of so many is always an end in itself. Wonderful.
Tom Potter and Ken Luginbuhl sold 100 or so books for me, and their contribution, as always, was entirely selfless. Many thanks.
Daniel was there and took it all in. And Merle (who looked great). As always.
Strangely, we forgot to take many pictures, but
a few turned up... (Click photo to enlarge)...
Dad & Daniel
hoist one to the crowd
(l. to r.): Maria, Brian
and Alex catch up on things
Mike and Pat Bronskill
with Suzanne and Daniel
Greg Hughes, Merle
at evening's end
Also, a couple of photos taken near the end of
(Click photo to enlarge)...
Daniel & Mom
in Suzanne's pool
Daniel & Mom
at Centre Island
We went to Montreal for the World Fantasy Convention (November 1-4). Best memory: Merle, Daniel and I... crepes and white wine, Saturday afternoon, in a lovely restaurant in Old Montreal.
And for those interested: I'll be reading from St. Patrick's Bed, Tuesday, November 20, 7:30 PM, Hart House Library, University of Toronto, as part of the Fall 2001 U of T Bookstore Reading Series. The same evening will feature Charles de Lint, Robert J. Sawyer, Peter Watts, Robert Charles Wilson and Nalo Hopkinson. A quality lineup. Admission is Free.
October 22, 2001
Was in Book City on the Danforth this afternoon (beautiful fall day to walk with a baby and a stroller), and they've got copies of St. Patrick's Bed on their shelves. Naturally, I signed 'em and suggested they display them on the Big Table... and they did...
Shadow of Ashland has sold to a Polish publisher (Zysk). This apparently happened some months ago, but I've just found out. Fascinating.
And Daniel is 11 months old. And gorgeous. I've been looking after him during the day for 7 weeks now. I think we're gonna make it... He's on the floor beside me playing with toys right now.
Conor (my oldest son) is going to make dinner
for us tonight. This is going to be almost as fascinating as selling a
book to Poland...
October 2, 2001
Copies of St. Patrick's Bed arrived today by UPS. It's out! And it looks beautiful. Official Toronto book launch for it will be October 30.
Toronto's annual Word on the Street Festival was Sunday, September 30. Weather was beautiful, crowds were great. Lots of books ended up in the hands of new readers... What more could you ask of the day?
I'll keep you posted...
September 21, 2001
A bit of update information for those who have asked (and for some who haven't)...
St. Patrick's Bed is now an October release. It's being shipped now. It should be in some (US) stores this weekend, others in a week or so. Shipping across the border to Canada may take a bit longer (week or two).The delay is part of the ripple effect of the September 11 madness, as business and day-to-day expectations of business necessarily shift gears.
September 10, 2001
Daniel and I are trying to get into the swing of our days together. He's a happy guy. His mother returned to work full-time--a severe wrench for her (and him), being apart--and I try to hold the fort till she gets home. Let's face it: Dad is fine, but then there's Mom.
Had a strange summer with unexpected medical blips on the scale, which seem to have played themselves out okay so far. And since early July it's been a hot, dry summer here. Merle and I and Daniel got to Ottawa mid-August--nice break. Got a chance to chat there (at a convention) with my editor, David Hartwell, who suggested that I stage a book launch for St. Patrick's Bed late October or early November so that he might come up to Toronto from New York for it en route (or returning) from the World Fantasy Convention in Montreal (November 1-4--which I'll also be attending). So I'm trying to set it up for Tuesday, October 30, but still have to confirm that date.
Conor will be working in a play the end of September and has been in rehearsal all month. Owen returned to York University (2nd year); we got him a room near the university, so we will probably see him mainly on weekends.
And the beat goes on... Stay tuned...
July 28, 2001
Some photos of us at the cottage we rented on Boshkung Lake (Ontario), the week of July 7-14, and one taken in our backyard at home...
Also heard the very nice news that CBC Radio (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) is planning a single voice reading of Shadow of Ashland--fifteen 15-minute episodes, spread over 3 weeks. It will be part of their Between the Covers series. Don't know when yet, but I'll be sure to post the information when I have it. Great news if you live in Canada or near the border where CBC can be picked up. Otherwise... short wave, anyone?
Now... those photos (Click to enlarge)...
July 2, 2001
There's a new Interview with me that was conducted
via email during the last week. If interested, you can find it by clicking
It was done for the on-line site www.yetanotherbookreview.com.
June 28, 2001
It's still hot and humid here in Toronto. Air conditioning going full blast.
Here's a few more photos for the infinite gallery,
taken within the last month (before the real heat wave).
(Click photos to enlarge.)
June 16, 2001
Conor is back from Europe. A shorter run than he originally planned. I guess the lesson is that Travel is Expensive. Anyway, he had a great time, and better short than not at all.
Daniel will be 7 months old in 3 days.
A hot humid, last couple of days. Very sultry.
Been over the proofs for St. Patrick's Bed. Next, looking forward to seeing a cover proof. Getting closer.
Been some word that there might be a piece written on me and the upcoming book in Saturday Night--the Saturday magazine accompanying Toronto's National Post (daily newspaper)--that would appear around the time of the new novel-- which would help spread the word about the new book. Got fingers crossed.
I'll keep you posted.
May 10, 2001
Spent last night at a Retirement party for old teaching mate, Greg Hughes, of East York C.I. here in Toronto. End of an era. Always great to see old faces, though. Must've been 70, 80 people. Got to say a few words, get my bit in. A good time.
Today is the day (my son) Conor and his friend, John, are off to Europe. Back July 16. The traditional, sort of, see-a-few-things-before-you-end-up-back-home-in-the-saddle trip. Hope he has a great time. He will.
Settling in to nice routines with Daniel (almost 6 months old). Wouldn't trade it for anything.
My writing? Slow. Dribs and drabs. But that's okay. It's temporary. What we're doing is more important right now. And kind of wonderful. Went over the copyedited manuscript of St. Patrick's Bed a couple of weeks ago, got it back to the publisher, and next step will be going over the proofs when they're ready. It's happening, slowly. Gerald Wexler has decided to extend the film option on Shadow of Ashland for another year. I'm pleased with this, and hope he can get it done in the next year or years. It's a long, slow process. This will be the 6th consecutive year that it's been under option for a feature film, so all expectations surrounding the project are positive, but realistic.
Went to Carp's (J.D. Carpenter's) Book Launch for his first novel The Devil In Me back on April 26. I'm rereading it (in the park, while I jiggle the stroller). It's wonderful. I recommend it highly.
I'll be in touch...
(Click on photos to enlarge.)
March 7, 2001
Happy (23rd) Birthday, Conor! Have a great day.
Ain't life grand?...
February 25, 2001
In the BOOK Section of today's Toronto (Sunday) Star, there was a nice piece that centred on A Witness to Life.
"Green takes the reader on a detailed and fascinating trip through 19th century Toronto"...
"a literary monument to old Toronto"...
"a beautiful novel about death, memory and search for meaning in family relationships"...
Good reviews = Good day. About time Toronto discovered the book, right?
And if you'd like to see a new (pretty nice) photo
of Merle, me and Daniel, taken Friday evening (February 23), at the annual
Astra Convention at The Inn on the Park/Holiday Inn here in Toronto
(with author Connie Willis in background)
February 23, 2001
The new photo gallery of Daniel, taken last month
(age 2 months)... What a guy. (Click photos to enlarge.)
February 16, 2001
Way too long since checking in here, but life with Daniel has brought nearly all else to a curious halt. He's 3 months old, and last night he slept his longest stretch -- 6 hours. He's healthy (around 14 pounds) and happy (he smiles a lot) and of all the stuff around him, seems to have become fixated on a Winnie the Pooh stuffed animal (thanks, Tom), and will spend considerable time (in baby time) engaged in some strange form of gooing and grunting with it. His first friend. And wait'll ya see the baby photos we got done recently. They'll be posted shortly.
Told you this might only appeal to parents...
The Luginbuhls take care of us and have the 3 of us for occasional (very welcome) dinners; and Tom Potter, who knows from recent firsthand experience very well what's going on in this house, brings us occasional food, which will earn him a special place in some sort of heaven, somewhere. Thanks, folks. We've had visits and gifts from so many, I don't know where to start, so insufficient as it is, a generalThank You to all.
Slowly, we're starting to get out a bit more. The weather has had a lot to do with us being housebound. Winter in Toronto can do that to you. Recently, though, on two separate occasions, I've managed a lunch with old friends Chester Kamski and Bill Kaschuk. And I did manage to get up to York University to see my son Conor in an impressive production of Lorca's Blood Wedding. And the 3 of us venture out now as often as possible on car jaunts and shopping ventures. It's simple: he sleeps best when in motion. And there's a strange pride in just just walking around with him. Pushing the stroller is great, but in your arms, it's quite stunning, quite primal. I recommend it.
And one of the nicest gifts came from Owen (my son), who gave him his own, long-saved (20 years) set of kid's books (Dr. Seuss, Berenstain Bears, It's Not East Being a Bunny, etc...). Today is Owen's 20th Birthday. Happy Birthday, Owen. What goes around comes around. Where did those 20 years go?...
December 23, 2000
Daniel took his Christmas List to Santa personally. He's catching on fast. (Click photo to enlarge).
And a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all!
December 6, 2000
Decided to post Chapter One of St. Patrick's
Bed on my web site for those who've asked (and for some who haven't).
You can read it by clicking HERE. There's also a link on the Main Page.
Daniel is now 2 and 1/2 weeks old, and we're learning how to live disconnected from the Outside World. Sleep happens when it happens, for all of us. As tired as we are, it's really quite a rich experience -- like we're sealed off from everything, living in a bubble. I have a hunch that years from now we're going to look back on these first months with real fondness -- a "Remember When..."
For the record: he's a ravenous guy. Merle is
catching some sleep right now (10 AM). I'm rocking him with my foot as
I type this. And also for the record: it's hard to stop looking at him.
Can't concentrate on much else. Parents out there will understand.
November 25, 2000
Daniel is 6 days old today. Promised some photos
last time. Here they are... (Click Photos to enlarge).
This one was taken November 24, so he's only 5 days old.
Proud Dad... (Nov 20)
Proud Mom, same day...
Doting big brother number one (Conor)... (Nov 24)
And doting big brother number two (Owen)... (Nov 23)
His first full day... Pretty lucky guy, right?
November 19, 2000
Daniel Casci Green was born today, 5:15 PM, at Toronto East General Hospital, weighing in at 7 & 1/2 pounds. Mother, son--and father--are all fine, if a bit spacey.
Right now, I'm pretty exhausted. Check here in near future for more details, (photos!), etc., when we all finally land back on Earth.
He's beautiful. Wow: an understatement.
October 28, 2000
The Globe and Mail's H.J. Kirchhoff today selected the trade paperback of A Witness to Life as a "Paperback Pick" of the Week." I'm delighted.
One week closer to Delivery Day...
October 20, 2000
And where did the last six weeks go? I dunno... But we're only a month away from *Delivery Date*, so everything seems to be funneling toward that. He's almost here. We can feel him kicking and knocking about in there, gettin' restless. Gettin' a little restless ourselves...
Wednesdays, we go to Pre-Natal classes at East General Hospital. This last Monday, we went to yet another session -- and we're not finished yet (another Sunday, I understand). The nursery is ready though (I think). Crib is up, dresser finally assembled, etc.
Merle and I were in Montreal this last weekend -- at "Boreal", a French language SF&F Convention. Drove down. I was on a panel with an interpreter...Very interesting. Editor David Hartwell and his wife and infant son (Peter) were there for the weekend too, and treated us to two great dinners out. Also saw Rob Sawyer and Carolyn Clink, Don Kingsbury, Yves Meynard, Joel Champetier, Elisabeth Vonarburg, Jean-Louis Trudel and others. Met Stephen Dedmond, from Australia. A very pleasant time. Probably our last trip as a twosome for some time, so we enjoyed.
Back on September 30, we had Carp (J.D. Carpenter) and his wife Claudine here for dinner to celebrate the sale of his novel to McClelland & Stewart. It'll be out in the Spring. Title right now is The Devil in Me. I've read it in manuscript. I recommend you look for it. It's a winner. Had a few of his old cronies and their mates drop over later (surprise) to share a cake and libations and join in the celebration. Good fellowship, great company. A nice evening all round.
Weekend before that (September 24) was Toronto's annual Word on the Street Festival, where they close off Queen Street between University and Spadina and turn it all over to Books. Papers say there were 150,000 people strolling about that day. I sat at a booth all day, chatted with whomever came by, talked about my books, and by 6 PM had sold close to $600 worth of them. I'd call that a day well spent.
And I still love riding my Yamaha. Bought new saddlebags for it (actually, they're used... but new to me and the bike). How did I live all those years in motorcycle denial? What have I missed? Thank God I came around in time...
Some photos relating to the above... (Click photo
Carp (J.D. Carpenter) and wife Claudine enjoy cake and a miniature book at our place, September 30, celebrating the recent sale of his novel.
L. to R.: Brian Flack, Louise, Laura, Larry Scanlan look on.
Ken & Judy Luginbuhl study the Rolls Royce of strollers with which they gifted us. Assembly is underway.
Those plans... they never make sense...
Kathryn Cramer emerges from hotel closet with the good stuff at Boreal, Montreal, October 13. L. to R.: Glenn Grant, Mark Shainblum, David Hartwell. Peter Hartwell is front and centre.
Merle, October 19... just in case you were wondering... One month to go.
And also, just in case you were wondering... here it is... licenced in Ontario... in all its glory...
...And here it is sporting its new saddlebags... A thing of beauty, right?
September 4, 2000
Labour Day, the true end of summer...Been a busy guy the last few weeks. It's been a busy house... The baby arrives November 22. The nursery grows... dresser, crib, changetable with built-in baby bath...
First, though, let me mention 2 new reviews (one of A Witness to Life -- "joins the tradition of great Toronto novels" -- the other of Shadow of Ashland -- "kingdoms full of magic") that appeared on the web site of the on-line literary magazine The Danforth Review as of September 1st. There's also an Interview with me there that was done by E-mail back in June (and just posted now) that you may find of interest.
So what have I been doing? Pretty unbelievable in some ways. Lots of fun too. Let me reminisce: in my late teens and early twenties (roughly thirty years ago, in my callow youth) I owned and rode several motorcycles. Then, unfortunately, I "grew up", accepted (sort of) the responsibility of my place in the stratified scheme of things, sold my last bike in 1971, and haven't owned one since.
Until now. As part of ongoing research for a new book (I want my main character to become obsessed with, hunt down, travel into the States, and finally purchase a bike), I did more or less what he will do so that I'd know the ropes and get the details right. After a lengthy search, I found what I was looking for on the web: a midnight blue 1993 Yamaha Virago XV535 (V-twin), with only 5000 miles on it, owned and operated by a young woman near Providence, Rhode Island. Janine, just graduated from Nursing at the University of Rhode Island, relocating cross-country (Salt Lake City), had hers up for sale. We did a deal.
My brother Dennis, also an ex-motorcyclist, offered his van and companionship as a way of transporting it back here to Toronto. On Thursday, August 21, we set out for Rhode Island (550? 600 miles?). On Friday, August 22, we loaded it into his van and went with Janine and her mother, Claire, and father, Joe, to a fine sea food restaurant, suggested by her father, for a celebratory lunch. After the feast, Dennis and I drove back to Toronto. We arrived home around dinner the next day, Saturday. Not only could I not have done it without him, it wouldn't have been the same. It was, truly, a great trip.
I've done all the paperwork of importing a vehicle across the border (very educational) and built a backyard shed in which to house it (in many ways, equally educational). I thought some might get a kick out of a handful of photos (below) tracing the journey...
Enjoy... (Click photo to enlarge...)
Janine undoing a mirror to help fit the bike into the van... My brother, Dennis, and her father, Joe, chat in the driveway of their Rhode Island home.
Dennis and Janine, the bike tied down and ready to travel...
Dennis and I admire our handiwork and ingenuity...
After lunch, in Galilee, Rhode Island, the beach behind us on one of August's golden days: l to r: me, Claire, Janine, Joe.
The bike, in all its glory, spent the first few nights right inside our Toronto home. Here it is in the kitchen. Don't you think I have an understanding wife? Thanks, babe...
...Until it finally got into its own home -- the vinyl shed in our backyard (that was almost more work to build than the whole trip to Rhode Island...)
August 15, 2000
Learned the news today that A Witness to Life has been nominated as Best Novel for the World Fantasy Award. This year the Convention is being held in Corpus Christi, Texas, October 26-29. Without knowing about the nomination, we'd planned on attending until we found out earlier this year about Merle's pregnancy (due date November 22), and only recently cancelled all arrangements. (For you Literary Critics, there's lots of Irony here...)
But what great news. How gratifying. For those interested in more complete information about it all, a copy of the PRESS RELEASE from H.B. Fenn can be seen by clicking HERE .
Sent in the final, revised manuscript of St.
Patrick's Bed today. It's done.
July 25, 2000
Got some excellent news today: the City of Toronto, through the Toronto Arts Council's 2000 Grants to Writers Program, has awarded a $4500 grant for the writing and completion of St. Patrick's Bed. I'll be finishing the final scenes and submitting the complete, revised manuscript to David Hartwell at Forge Books, NY, by summer's end. Naturally, I'm pleased. It's extremely gratifying to have the book's excellence recognized here on the home front, in such a concrete manner.
To other matters: both sons -- Conor (age 22) and Owen (age 19) -- have summer jobs (at Loblaw's and Canadian Tire respectively). Conor is headed into 4th year (Theatre Arts) at Toronto's York University, while Owen has made the leap in fine fashion to 1st year (General Arts), joining his brother at York. I'm one proud Dad...Two sons at university is expensive... All the more reason for a sense of relief surrounding the Grant mentioned above.
Merle got results end of June from amniocentesis and other tests. All is well. In fact, we now know that we're expecting a boy! So that'll be 3 sons this Christmas gathered around the tree (ahh... that Grant... probably saved Christmas too...). We've got a book with 30,000 baby names in it... Have just eliminated 15,000... Conor and Owen seem to be getting into the swing of impending new brotherhood. They helped us clean out the middle room, first step to setting up the new nursery...
Added a few photos of our recent trip to Oklahoma (below, in June 27 section).
And finally, like that last scene from 2001: A Space Odyssey, an ultrasound image of the new guy, taken at the clinic today... Click to enlarge.
June 27, 2000
Back from the University of Oklahoma Writers Conference (June 22-25). Very nice time in a very professional setting. Met a bunch of great people, all gathered together by novelist Jim Davis (J. Madison Davis) who teaches there. Got to know fellow Torontonian, mystery writer Alison Gordon, better during the weekend. In short, I'd go again, if asked. And next time, I'd try to get out and around to see more of the state (spent too much time in the host Holiday Inn). The after-dinner speech Saturday night went very well and I think all enjoyed it very much.
A few photos... (Click on Thumbnails below to
Keynote address, following Banquet Saturday, June 24, 2000, Oklahoma Writers Conference (Holiday Inn, Norman, OK).
Post- banquet gathering: (l. to r. front row): Alison Gordon, Jim (J. Madison) Davis, Melissa Davis; (l. to r. back row): Jeremiah Healy, Leonard Bishop, self.
L. to R.: novelist Alison Gordon, agent Alison Bond, self, novelist (& professor) Jim (J. Madison) Davis (at Banquet, Saturday, June 24, 2000).
Banquet table... That's Merle at front, turning toward camera.
A Witness to Life is being taught in the the Professional Writing Programme there. New Oklahoma readers for my Toronto novel. Progress.
Have been in conversation with my editor (David Hartwell) regarding the new novel (St. Patrick's Bed). I'm pleased. He thinks it's "a great book" and "a worthy companion to Shadow of Ashland." In his role as editor, he's also suggested another scene or two to flesh out a particular idea that could benefit from more development. I think it's a good idea. This will be my immediate project for the next while. The book is now scheduled for Fall, 2001.
Merle is well. She's passed the half-way mark. They're now telling us that November 22 is the expected date.
June 6, 2000
St. Patrick's Bed went in the mail today to its publisher, Forge Books, New York -- the publisher of the companion books, Shadow of Ashland and A Witness to Life. Don't know anything yet about a publication date. Will post it when I know.
Irish mission accomplished. On May 23, Merle and I got to the top of Mam Ean, Connemara, County Galway, Ireland, and visited St. Patrick's Well and Bed (Tobar agus Leaba Padraic). It was a one-mile trek. Coming back down was easier. Brought back a flask of water from the well, and will portion it out into tiny mini-bottles... Quite the souvenir... Hope to have lots left to go with the book when it appears -- but that's next year... Visited the Famine Museum at Strokestown, the Cobh Heritage Centre (for the Queenstown Experience), stopped at University College, Galway, and University College, Cork, (attended University College, Dublin, almost 30 years ago), got out onto the Dingle Peninsula and the Ring of Kerry. Our favorite overnight spot was the Leenane Hotel -- a beautiful spot and lovely hotel, nestled in the Connemara mountains of Galway.
Haven't mentioned this before, but the Big News on the home front is that Merle is in her 4th month of pregnancy. We're going to be geriatric parents, and are thrilled. We spend a lot of time now smiling and giggling and shaking our heads. Merle has seen the ultrasound image. Life is a miracle. It's as simple as that. We're gonna have a miracle. And all will change, utterly, amazingly...
(Click on Thumbnails Below to enlarge pictures.)
May 2, 2000
Finished a complete draft of the current novel, and am now considering the title St. Patrick's Bed. You'll have to read it to find out why, but there is definitely some Irish involved. In fact, Merle and I are heading off to Ireland, May 21-29 -- landing at Shannon and staying in Connemara, County Galway -- in order to do some final research for the book, and to begin research for the next novel, which will deal with the Radey family and their emigration from the Irish Famine of 1847. I'll be turning the current novel in to my agent and publisher early June, after I get back and add final polish to a scene already written, set atop a mountain over there.
June 23-25 we'll be at the Univesity of Oklahoma Writers Conference, held at their campus in Norman, Oklahoma. I've been asked to be the Keynote Speaker -- a nice honour -- and we're looking forward to the trip. Never been to Oklahoma.
March 7, 2000
I've been pretty busy the last couple of weeks establishing and constructing this web site. I've had the generous technical advice and suggestions of David Neelin, Rob Sawyer, and Charles de Lint to support me through the maze, and it was Judy Luginbuhl who supplied the basic template and work to get the whole thing kick started. Finally. Thanks, folks.
To do it, I took some time off from writing my new novel. I've got about 200 manuscript pages of a sequel to Shadow of Ashland completed, and hope to finish it in the next month or two. At this rate, its probable publication date will be mid 2001. It's set 11 years after Shadow of Ashland (the "contemporary" portions of Shadow of Ashland were set in 1984... this new novel opens in 1995). Current working title is Turning of Bones. I like it a lot, and I think you will too.
I combined business and pleasure back in November 1999 with a trip to the Kentucky Book Fair in Frankfort, Ky. This was my second visit. I was there with Shadow of Ashland in November 1996. The Kentucky portions of A Witness to Life (specifically the scenes with Thomas Merton in the monastery at Gethsemani, near Bardstown) got me invited back. I've enjoyed it immensely both times and hope to visit again. (See Photos link on Main Page).
I drove from Toronto to Frankfort, and en route stopped and spent time in Dayton, Ohio. Much of the heart of Turning of Bones is set in Dayton, so this was Research, most definitely. A correspondent of mine since the publication of Shadow of Ashland in 1996, a retired doctor, Bill Erwin, was gracious and cordial enough to offer to be my Dayton guide/host. (See Photos link on Main Page). He and his wife, Pat, treated me to the hospitality of their home and to a wonderful Italian dinner at a local restaurant. They helped me see and experience Dayton. Readers will be the beneficiaries.
My wife, Merle, flew down and met me in Lexington, and we drove to Frankfort, the state capital, for the Book Fair (a one-day-event...150 authors... more than 5,000 people, staged at Kentucky State University). On the return drive through Ohio, we stopped at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. Gotta say, folks, it exceeded all expectations. The music is wonderful, the sound systems terrific, the visuals great, the memories evoked, strong. Highly recommended.
Lots of the trip through Ohio and Kentucky will be (and has been) transmuted into the fiction of Turning of Bones.
And today is my son Conor's 22nd birthday. Owen was 19 on February 16th. Hard to believe. And wonderful.
Stay tuned by dropping in to WHAT'S NEW for the occasional visit...
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