Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Monday, September 29, 2008
We also saw Elizabeth Bachinsky, George McWhirter and Shannon Stewart read and I got my souvenir poster for the Rocksalt anthology from publisher Mona Fertig. If the book's as nicely designed as the poster, it'll be very purty indeed.
I'm off on the rails tomorrow, with a Thursday night layover in Winnipeg. Should be my third-last trip of the season. Not that I'm counting.
Posted by Zachariah Wells at 2:56 PM
Friday, September 26, 2008
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
... for Anything But Hank!
Anything but Hank! is a rhyming children's picturebook about a young infant in need of a name. His father wants to call him Hank, but his mother is against the idea. A pig decides the boy is in need of wisdom from a Wizard and his Mexican bearded [sic] lizard, which so happens to specialize in naming babies! Together they go on a wondrous journey, brought to life with sweeping paintings by illustrator Eric Orchard. Anything but Hank! is a lovely read-aloud book perfect for storytime.
Posted by Zachariah Wells at 11:20 PM
One fine thing in the book is P.K. Page's chillingly beautiful poem "Only Child":
Which brings me to another case of notable omissions. Yesterday, The Essential P.K. Page came across my desk. "Only Child" is not included. Nor are "The Stenographers"--probably Page's most anthologized poem, tho also, oddly, left out of her quite large Selected, Planet Earth, by Eric Ormsby--and the stunning "Photos of a Salt Mine" (also left out by Ormsby, which makes me wonder to what extent the editors of the Essential built their book from Ormsby's selection, rather than from the Collected Page and the volumes that followed it; there are two excerpts from her recently published autobiography in verse, Hand Luggage, so the editors have strayed from Ormsby's selection somewhat, at least). Any selection of Page's lapidary oeuvre is worth reading, and I certainly will read it, but I'm scratching my head over these editorial decisions. But, as this article suggests, Page is a tricky poet to anthologize (an essential collection is basically an expanded anthology pick) and the exclusion of these former favourites might be a reaction to earlier editors' choices. But, since Lampert and Gray have decided to forgo an introduction, saying that Page's poetry needs none, one can only speculate as to their motives.
Posted by Zachariah Wells at 6:01 PM
Posted by Zachariah Wells at 10:39 AM
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Posted by Zachariah Wells at 6:03 PM
to a wall,
to bare brick.
Posted by Zachariah Wells at 4:58 PM
Friday, September 19, 2008
I'm off on the railroad today, one of my lovely Friday trips with no layover in Winnipeg. This will probably be my third- or fourth-last trip of the season. Not that I'm counting. I'm looking forward to October and November. I've got quite a few events lined up, with more to come, I think.
Ciao for now.
Posted by Zachariah Wells at 9:17 AM
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Whether it's writers, musicians, actors or other popular public figures, people generally react very differently to an unexpected early death than they would have had the same figures died quietly at an advanced age. Think Princess Diana, think Morrison, Hendrix, Joplin, Page, Cobain. And now, think David Foster Wallace. The reaction seems to be particularly strong if the death is self-inflicted. Part of it has to be that we're disappointed that we'll be seeing no more new work from our hero. Part of it must be that we can more easily see ourselves in that situation than dying of old age. A big part of it has to be that we see these exceptional figures as standing out from the dross of the age, as totems of hope in a hopeless world, and if they couldn't make it, what chance can we have? I haven't seen it explicitly expressed thus yet, but in the case of DFW, who was such a satirist of our society, people probably on some level see him as a martyr, killed by that very society. There has certainly been a lot of rhetoric going around suggesting that DFW was somehow "more human" than the rest of us and hence, presumably, more susceptible to the inhuman brutalities of his social environs. The facts of the matter, insofar as we know them, is that he was badly depressed and used a rope to end his depression.
When Roland Elliott Brown had the temerity to suggest that a public memorial being held for DFW in Toronto might be a "Diana-style vicarious grief-wank," he was immediately pilloried, called a "pitiful fucking troll" and a "fucking douchebag," and was told to "go fuck [him]self." Granted, for anyone planning to attend the memorial, Brown's phrasing was bound to be inflammatory, if only because there's probably very little overlap between the fans-of-Diana and the fans-of-DFW cohorts. Still, the flaming insults seem to me vastly out of proportion with Brown's offense. What he did was call into question the emotional authenticity of DFW's mourners. He went on to elaborate: "People will go there to worship their own idea of a person they did not know. They have been invited to do this. It is a form narcissism." This sounds pretty accurate to me; for someone to claim grief over the death of a stranger, they must have invested something of their own identity in that stranger's life and death: in it, they see a reflection of themselves and what might become of them. This is of course far easier to do with a writer or performer than with most other people. A reader can easily develop a sense that they know the writer from having read his works. But folks, this is a fallacy, pure and simple, an illusion created by the artifice of very good writing.
It's been stated in the Bookninja discussion thread that people's grief and the forms it takes should not be called into question, that it's "absolutely vile" and "reptilian" to do so. Ironically, this charge, along with several epithets thrown at Brown and another person who has had the spine to stand up for his argument, has come from my friend Paul Vermeersch, who has been most outspoken on many occasions in his opposition to religious belief. It's often argued that atheists should not tell people how or what to believe, that this is none of their business. Paul should be aware of this and be able to see the parallels with his own attempted shout-down of Brown's skepticism. For an atheist, the only taboo should be against taboo. There's no reason grief should be left off the table, particularly when it's public grief. The grief, pretend or real, over the deaths of people like DFW is tantamount to idolatry. People who only know the writing of a person have no entitlement to public grief because what they know of that person is the thin edge of the wedge and, moreover, it's not dead.
One of the most regrettable things about DFW's death is that we will never get to read the hilariously incisive satirical essay he might have written about attending one of his own public memorials. This is the worst, most unintentionally ironic thing about all this earnest mourning: it goes against the grain of DFW's work as a writer. Far better the Onion's take on it, which, as George Murray says, "Wallace might have got a kick out of." But what do we know? We never met the guy.
Posted by Zachariah Wells at 11:22 AM
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Posted by Zachariah Wells at 10:48 PM
Posted by Zachariah Wells at 10:46 PM
So I'm running some errands this afternoon. I park my motorbike around the corner from the grocery store. I'm gone maybe 15 minutes. I come back and find that some son of a bitch has stolen my helmet, which I'd left on the bike's backrest. Now, you're probably thinking, "Serves him right, leaving it there." Thing is, I've been leaving it there for seven years. The only time I take my lid in with me is if it's raining. I've always figured this was a virtually no-risk act, since a)anyone who might need a motorcycle helmet already has one b)a second-hand helmet, being a hat, is not something most people would want to wear, ergo c)the resale value of second-hand helmets is almost nil and d)my helmet was nothing special, a seven-year-old basic black HJC open-face (something like the one pictured, which retails new for about $85). So, I had to ride home a few blocks without protection. Fortunately, I've got another helmet. This one's worth more than three times the stolen one, so I'd better keep a good eye on it.
Anyway, asshole, I hope you enjoy your stinky, worthless new acquisition. And I hope someone does something equally shitty to you soon.
I'm off to a reading tonight. Sonnet L'Abbé and Matt Rader are reading at the Railway Club downtown. I hope to get a good recording of them, which I'll post anon.
Posted by Zachariah Wells at 4:11 PM
Monday, September 15, 2008
Sunday, September 14, 2008
Personally, I'm for cutting a lot more arts funding (along with EI, welfare, family allowance, CPP and all the bureaucratic apparatus that administer them) and redirecting it into Elizabeth May's proposal of Guaranteed Livable Income. With a GLI, all kinds of creative people would be freed up to do creative things. I'm also for universal, but conditional, free university tuition. But I have a hard time seeing our country being ready to implement such pragmatically visionary policies any time soon. Not till we get rid of first-past-the-post...
Posted by Zachariah Wells at 11:40 PM
Saturday, September 13, 2008
"It took everything I had in [sic] to not throw the book to the ground and begin performing a much needed exorcism."
I somehow missed this, erm, review of Unsettled, which was posted back in the spring. One doesn't quite know whether to weep or laugh, but I'm inclined towards the latter.
Posted by Zachariah Wells at 10:06 PM
Friday, September 12, 2008
He's not apt to remember much of it, but Kaleb's first train trip was memorable for us at least. I was too busy with work to spend much time with him and Rachel, but he kept himself occupied...
...drinking in the scenery:
...hanging out in the dining car with my colleague Véronique, who threatened to steal him, then downgraded her threat to a standing babysitting offer:
...fraternising with fellow train guests (he was very popular with the ladies, especially):
... chilling out in his room (on the train, the bouncy chair bounces itself, especially in Alberta):
... and spending some quality naked time at the end of a hectic day:
I know how he feels. After 18 hours in my uniform, I too like a bit of naked time.
Posted by Zachariah Wells at 12:55 PM
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
I'm 32 today. Celebrated by going to Aqua Books for lunch with Rachel and Kaleb. We also had supper at Alycia's last night. Alycia's is a Winnipeg landmark, a Ukrainian restaurant that was John Candy's favourite. They even have a little shrine in his memory there.
Back on the train to Vancouver in a few hours. I'm hoping the trip back will be a little less hectic than the trip up was. Didn't have much time other than my meal breaks to hang out with R and K.
All for now.
Posted by Zachariah Wells at 10:47 AM
Sunday, September 7, 2008
Saturday, September 6, 2008
Once Upon a Huckleberry Bush
4387 Main St.
Posted by Zachariah Wells at 4:50 PM
Thursday, September 4, 2008
I've long been aware of the existence of pro soccer goalie Zach Wells, but had never been mistaken for him. Until today, when a young woman in Washington DC sent me an email asking me to go for drinks with her and her girlfriends. Naturally, I accepted her invitation.
Posted by Zachariah Wells at 3:37 PM
Rocksalt: An Anthology of Contemporary BC Poetry, which features a poem by yours truly, will be having launches in the coming weeks and months. Mark it on your calendar:
1. Salt Spring Island-Lions' Club - Sat. Oct 18th. 8pm
2. Granville Island-Agro Cafe, during the Vancouver International Writers' Festival, Thursday - Oct. 23rd 7 pm
3. Vernon - Gallery Vertigo, Wednesday - Oct 29th.
• Contact Howard Brown- Howardandalice@shaw.ca
4. The Nanaimo Library - Sunday- Nov. 2nd. 1 pm
• Contact: Kim Goldberg - firstname.lastname@example.org
5. Prince George- TBA, Nov.
• Contact: Al Rempel - email@example.com
6. The Vancouver Pubic Library - Friday- Nov. 7th. 7-9:30 pm
7. Victoria- Bolens Books- Sat. Nov.15th. 7 pm
8. North Vancouver - 32 Books- Fri. Nov. 21st ( eve)
I'm not sure which ones I'll be able to attend, but 7 and 8 look like safe bets at this point, with 6 a possibility.
Posted by Zachariah Wells at 12:53 PM
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
Don Denton of Literary Photographer passed this on to me and I thought I'd pass it on to you:
Vote early, vote often!
Posted by Zachariah Wells at 10:13 AM
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
My review of Kevin Connolly's Revolver is now up at Quill & Quire. As is my review of Domenico Capilongo's i thought elvis was italian.
Posted by Zachariah Wells at 10:04 AM
Posted by Zachariah Wells at 9:42 AM