Saturday, November 7, 2015

My review of Arvida, by Samuel Archibald ...

is now up on the Numero Cinq website. As I mention in the piece, and as many of you no doubt know, Arvida is on the shortlist for this year's Scotiabank Giller Prize, the winner of which will be announced next week. While some consider Archibald's book an odd choice by the jury - it's a linked collection of stories, partially about the titular town in Quebec where Archibald grew up, but also full of a variety of styles and influences, from magic realism to Hemingway, right up to Stephen King-style horror - I'm not terribly surprised it's there. This is one of the better books I've read this year, and as I say in the review, it really does push the envelope in terms of what a linked story collection can and should do.

I'm also happy to announce that I've been added to the masthead of Numero Cinq as a contributor. The piece on Arvida marks my second review for this venerable online literary journal, and I'm looking forward to doing more of them in the coming months and, hopefully, years.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Madhouses in Heaven, Castles in Hell - My first dedication

Well, here's something you don't get to report every day: RR and I have had a book dedicated to us! Yes, it's true. Our good friend, J.J. Steinfeld, has affixed our names to his latest short story collection, Madhouses in Heaven, Castles in Hell (Ekstasis Editions, 2015). The book, which arrived in the mail yesterday, has a fantastically Steinfeldian title and a creepily gorgeous cover. We're both looking forward to tucking in to what I'm sure will be a madcap array of stories inside.

For those of you who don't know, J.J., who is based on PEI, has been a full-time fiction and poetry writer since 1980 and has published some 16 titles in that time. He and I met about 10 years ago when I was briefly back on PEI during one of my international jaunts. I've reviewed two of his previous titles here on the blog: his 2009 poetry collection, Misshapenness, and his 2010 story collection, A Glass Shard and Memory. I also spent a good chunk of this past summer writing a lengthy academic essay on his 2009 novel Word Burials for a forthcoming anthology on his work. Whenever we're back on the Island, RR and I always meet up with J.J. and his wife, visual artist Brenda Whiteway, along with the group I have come to affectionately refer to as the "PEI Writers Mafia."

Anyway, we're both very moved to have received this dedication from J.J. You should check out his new book, available where better books are sold.