Two Recent Reviews

I’ve just had two reviews posted on the Atlantic Books Today website (following two longer reviews – of Kevin Major and Kerry-Lee Powell – in their recent print edition). A small caveat is that Atlantic Books Today is funded by publishers, but managing editor Chris Benjamin does want honest, well-written reviews, sees the value in that.

I hosted André Narbonne in October at the Attic Owl Reading Series, was impressed and later begged off attempting a review of another story collection (quite poorly written) and requested permission to send a review of Narbonne’s collection Twelve Miles to Midnight. It’s a great story collection. The review is here.

And some time this summer I was sent the PDF of David Doucette’s A Hard Old Time Amongst Scavengers, and promptly forgot about it. I spend all day at the PC or laptop editing writers’ words, don’t want to read more fiction on the screen. Anyway, when asked about the review’s status I said right, right, is there a hard copy? One was sent. One day I’ll make a list of my favourite Atlantic Canadian Fiction. It’ll have Doucette’s novel near the top*. What a welcome surprise. That review is here.

*Along with Steffler’s The Grey Islands (fiction? poetry?), Powell’s Willem De Kooning’s Paintbrush, Bursey’s Verbatim: A Novel, Gunn’s Amphibian, Butler Hallett’s Deluded Your Sailors, and work by Mark Anthony Jarman, Ian Colford, Narbonne, Coady…. Maybe that’s the next blog post.

Engine Failure @ Jerrod Edson

There’s a nice review of my story “A Survivor’s Guide to Engine Failure at 35,000 Feet” on Jerrod Edson’s site right here. Jerrod is a fellow New Brunswick author temporarily banished to Ontario (but he’s NB through and through, don’t forget it). From his review:

“Warwick’s voice is manic, yet altogether alive and authentic (imagine a Hunter S. Thompson / Barney Panofsky offspring and you’re headed in the right direction). His memories of the crash are honest and raw, and utterly void of any writerly bullshit”

Edson has a new novel coming out this spring. Watch for “The Moon is Real” with Urban Farmhouse Press.

Interviewing Jeff Bursey

As mentioned in the preface to the linked interview (see below), Jeff Bursey and I met through Joseph McElroy in 2010 when Jeff was looking to get word out about his first novel, Verbatim: A Novel. Jeff lived just two hours away but in terms of kindred interests, he was right next door. We have become good friends since. He’s the only person I’ve met (face to face) who has also read McElroy’s massive Women and Men.

The interview, focussing on Jeff’s second book, Mirrors on which dust has fallen, is up at The Winnipeg Review, another terrific resource (a la Numero Cinq) for all things literary.

Read it here.

The Litter I See

thompsonA few months back I was sent (by Carin Makuz) a jpg of some random trash, all part of a project called The Litter I See (in support of Frontier College), and which promotes literacy and has, of course, an anti-trash objective as well. The image was of someone’s ‘new balance’ and the word ‘withdrawal’ was prominent.  So I wrote a poem, a kind of numb, flat poem about a decision on the cusp for years.

You can find it here (or click the image):

http://thelitteriseeproject.com/2015/11/09/withdrawal/

Not sure if I’ve had a poem published before. Don’t think so.

Editing Website

After 18 months of knowing I needed one, I made one: a website for my editing services. Happy to have clients both big (publishers, corporations) and small (you, the Average Writing Human).  Is this an easy way to make a living? No. But it’s a satisfying one.  Check it out:

editing logo

click logo

Lee Thompson Editing +

Confessions of a Paper Hater

Paper. Hate it. Hate the way it sounds, paper on paper, and the way it feels under my skin. Hate the sound of paper tearing, hate the dry whisper of a turned page. Hate that other things sound like this. Take off my shirt and, cloth on skin, there’s the paper sound.  Touch my hair and there’s the paper sound. Breathe in and there’s the paper sound. I’m not making this up.

It started early in life, though I don’t remember exactly when. In school, the sound of my hand moving across paper was bothersome, but tolerable. I found that if I kept my nails long, it helped. I wouldn’t explain why I kept my nails long, though. I can’t explain why it still helps (lessens touch sensitivity, I presume). I hated the sound of pencil against paper, I hated the sound of the worn-to-nothing end of a pencil, the eraser end, rubbing its nub and tin against the paper (I shudder).  At its worst, in my pre-teens, it affected my dental hygiene – brushing my teeth created a paper sound throughout my entire skull. Horrible. I also couldn’t stand the feel and sound of nylon on nylon. Or snowsuits. Pillowcases. Maybe I worried that one day I wouldn’t be able to touch anything at all?

And then it went away, mostly.  And I forgot about it, mostly. Thirty years dormant. And then two summers ago, while tearing a sheet of parchment paper, it was back: shivers up my spine, hair standing on end.  Why? Did stress trigger it? What part of my brain was reactivated? And why is there a part of my brain that makes the world sound like its being channelled through dry, paper tubes? (“That’s a really crazy description; don’t tell people that,” R. told me when I tried to describe it.)

Since the Parchment Terror it’s expanded, to toasted or old bread, to feet on carpet, and to nearly all forms of clothing (except microfibre and silk). Some days it seems every other thing has this dry, shivery sound, and I can’t see any evolutionary reason for this. Paper cuts just aren’t that deadly. (Yes, it falls under some kind of hypersensitivity disorder. Surely there are others out there.)

So, that’s the irony. I’m a writer and editor who hates paper, who is surrounded by paper, who’s had constant paper contact his entire life (you’d have expected me go into aquaculture and something similarly moist). But I’m a writer who’s never had much of a paper fetish, obviously, or a sharpie or pen collection.

Yet, somehow (praise the angels and their shivery wings), I still love the feel of books, and don’t own a Kobo or Kindle.

That says something.

LT

PS – But I love the feel of polymers. The new plastic money? Awesome.

Three Favourite Things from 2014

Kerry-Lee Powell’s Inheritance Yesterday the short list for the poetry part of the East Coast Literary Awards came out, and there was a name missing. Sure, nothing is ever guaranteed, but word has it that Kerry-Lee Powell’s Inheritance, due to an … Continue reading

Wither Ambition?

Too few fiction writers write like they enjoy the process, like they’re having blast and are taking you along with them, like they have absolute command and are conducting you. So much of what I’ve read lately (published work, not my editing work) is stolid, plodding, boring.  It knows nothing of how sounds, images, rhythms work together to create something more than just plot-puppet A meeting plot-puppet B. It’s soggy white bread with the corners cut off.  Yet it’s published and marketed as great literature, stunning, original. It’s all over the cover. Welcome to sublurbia.

Where’s the ambition? Shrinking expectations? Even if there’s no play, where’s the depth, where’s that unique spark each of us has? ( We all have it, don’t we?)

What fiction has seemed masterly me in the past year?  Not much, but then I’ve read many friends’ books, nearly two dozen unpublished books, and too few on my must-read list. Michelle Butler Hallett was in command of her material in Double-Blind, and Lynn Coady’s stories in Hellgoing showed an easy, subtle control, but perhaps only my favourite fiction of the past year, Tamas Dobozy’s Seige 13, had that range I seek. Now I consider all three of these authors to be friends.  Would I have read these otherwise?  Don’t know.

Time to dive into what I want to read, shelves of urgently-purchased, waiting-for-the-right-moment titles, and what spurred this surly entry is a book I opened this morning, Gilbert Sorrentino’s The Moon in Its Flight. There’s mastery here. It doesn’t feel like a chore to pick it up.

(For the record, the book that impressed me most this past year is Kerry-Lee Powell’s poetry collection Inheritance. Is she a friend? Yes, and a good one. But more on that in a future entry.)