July 31, 2008

Miriam Toews

A funny, insightful writer and one of the nicest people you'll meet anywhere. If you get the chance, check her out:

The Vancouver International Writers Festival and Random House of Canada present Miriam Toews. The bestselling author of A Complicated Kindness and Summer of My Amazing Luck will read from her new book, The Flying Troutmans. Appearing on the same bill will be Joan Barfoot, author of the Scotiabank Giller Prize shortlisted Luck and a new novel Exit Lines.

7:30 pm, Monday September 15
Granville Island Stage
1585 Johnston Street

Tickets $15/$13 plus $2.00 facility surcharge. Tickets on sale August 5 at VancouverTix: 604.629.VTIX (8849 or www.vancouvertix.com). For information call 604.681.6330.

July 23, 2008


I know I've said this ad nauseum, but 300 is a terrible film. Pointless, silly, a wretched misuse of cinema--aside from the one moment I concede to my friend Sam, when the mighty elephant goes splat. But that's a lot of horse shit to sit through to get to that one moment.

Now, this new film Watchmen made by the same people looks like it has promise. Great graphic novel. And I must confess I still enjoy The Smashing Pumpkins. But I worry about the dialog. In 300, someone was announcing their home town every two minutes, usually while expectorating giant wads of spit over their finely combed beards. I guess the writers were concerned the audience would forget the characters' origins (like we cared). I love when the Persian leader pleads to their Greek sense of logic, to which Leonidas responds something to the effect of "We're Sparta". My, that's clever. Woo them with your logic, oh great king.

I hope these filmmakers try for something beyond style with this next one.

July 15, 2008

An Excerpt...

Been working on a novel and finding it excruciating at times. Thought I'd post a benign enough excerpt for the two or three of you that actually come by and read this blog every once in awhile.

Spartan leans against the American border like an unwanted immigrant. Two crossings on either side of town, two rivers that swell into each other and glide south. All things migrate. The largest mountain in the valley, Galena, a pock-faced chunk of rock rising a mile into the sky, is more American than Canadian. Locals cross into the States for shopping, gas, excursions to commit less-honorable deeds at Indian Reservations. The local pulp-mill trucks raw lumber across daily, stacked on the backs of groaning, dusty machines.

When the dry scrub under pine trees combusts from Summer's heat, both sides of the border eye their lines warily, waiting for the flames to find their way across the forty-ninth parallel, change ownership.

Spartan is disconnected from the big cities. It bleeds into America with its rivers. Draft-dodgers from the Vietnam War catch the evening breezes funneling up from a home country no longer their own, sitting at the windows of homes built on the easy slopes of Fife. Hunters and farmers come down from the mountains and drink at pubs with names like Longhorn or Prospector. Fights are brief, vicious. A mouth fish-hooked, an eye-socket caved in, the collision of knuckle on teeth.

Churches are full on Sunday mornings, transgressions suppressed behind neckties, confined under dresses. Words spread. Heads turn. A person avoids a certain grocery store for awhile, buys their prescriptions at an alternate pharmacy.

Old Doukhobors drink coffee at a local bistro, growl about sky-rocketing prices, the way nothing is ever as good as the day before. Kids ride bikes, shoot at small animals with pellet guns, collect bottles to exchange for Bazooka Joe gum and Willy Wonka's Wax Lips. The world is small, yet absurdly macroscopic. A landscape of tension felt by young and old alike but never articulated. Lovers hold hand as they walk to the tree-lined banks of the river in City Park. There, hands move to more intimate places, a girl cries out in pleasure and loss. Pleasure and loss and a lack. Spartan.

July 1, 2008

BC Carbon Tax

And so it begins. Our Provincial Carbon Tax precedes a Federal Carbon Tax (a mimicry of the BC idea) which may or may not come into existence. The difference? From what I can tell, the BC government seems to be making an effort to be transparent about where the money goes. They've passed legislation as insurance. Will money actual come back to the taxpayer? Is the tax really "revenue neutral"? Such assurances can only be discerned over time.

The idea of taxing fossil fuels, painful as it initially sounds, carries more positives than negatives. People love to talk about making changes to help the environment, but we're a lazy culture (myself included) and the movement to actually implement changes is slow. On a federal level, the commentary I've heard from our current government about environmental change has been flippant, barely an acknowledgment. They're more concerned with preservation of office than actually doing something worthwhile. So, to see the BC government move forward with policy that enforces change strikes me as bold, risky. When they first suggested the idea of such a tax, no one could have expected the immense increase in oil costs. So the risk with this move carries even more gravity than before. I like the sentiment of such a move.

What does this have to do about writing and the arts? Nothing. Sue me.

Save This Page