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  • Ethical Aspects of Animal Husbandry
    Ethical Aspects of Animal Husbandry
    by Craig Terlson

    A collection of short stories where the humour runs dark and the slipstream bubbles up.


    ...imagine if Raymond Carver called up George Saunders and Joe Lansdale, and they all went drinking with Neil Gaiman.

  • Correction Line
    Correction Line
    by Craig Terlson

    “… it's clear that Terlson is way ahead of the curve in terms of crafting an engaging premise that reaches for elevated territory and reinvents enduring archetypes of action and suspense.”  J. Schoenfelder

    "Sometimes brutal, often demanding and always complex, this novel will repay the reader who likes their assumptions challenged and is happy to walk away from a book with minor questions unanswered but the big ones definitely dealt with! It’s likely to satisfy those who enjoy Hammet and/or Philip K Dick and who like their fiction very noir indeed."   Kay Sexton


    "I love a novel that you can't put down, and this is one of them."  L. Cihlar


Sleepy tired writer guy

Sorry - no blog yet. Be back at it soon.

Fringe was an amazing ride. But, oy, tired.


Hit the Fringe Running

Why is it that if I don't blog for a bit, spammy comments start showing up? Is that a way of kicking me in the butt?

Back from my Sask. book tour - the first of two this summer - and it was a blast. I will post a proper summary of that soon. But for now, I have hit the Fringe running. By that I mean the Winnipeg Fringe Festival. My city holds one of the best fringe fests in the country, maybe the continent. This year I believe there are almost 190 shows... including one of mine.

My daughter is a great actress and has been involved in productions over the years. She asked if I'd ever be interested in writing a show, and I pondered on it. In fact I wrote a few in my mind while at the beer tent last summer - but thankfully none of those ever hit the stage (or even the page).

But I did being writing a play dealing with something that I think a lot about - social media. I was always an early adopter, and when facebook came along (whenever that was), I jumped on. Ditto Twitter and Instagram. I love them all - they just somehow fit into the way I think. I was also aware of the growing toll they could take on me being present to my friends (and my wife!) So I, as one character in the play says, "dial it back" once in a while.

I knew if I wrote a fringe play it would be a comedy - I love all kinds of theatre, but I do tend to gravitate to the comedies. My son is an improv and sketch comedian - and my whole family is just sorta funny (goofy?)

The play, Filter This, deals with a couple that tries to see if they can live in each other's world (and I give my daughter co-creator credit, as the premise was her idea). Wanting to show how the infiltration of social media is so ever-present, I created a character that embodied those digital interactions. The Meme is on stage for the enitre play, and voices ever tweet, text, facebook post, instagram photo that happens between the other two characters. We were lucky enough to get a wonderfully physical comic actor to play this part.

Filter This opened last night to a packed house. I jokingly said to a volunteer taking tickets that I promised one laugh every two minutes... or the patron would get there money back! I didn'y have to worry though, as the place was full of laughter throughout the performance.

On purpose I didn't want to preach on either side - social media evil - social media good. I only wanted to pose some questions for the audience. What does it mean to be present? To be mindful to each other? And are there some good things about social media? Can it engage one's compassion?

The actors, the director and stage manager beautifully breathed this play into life - and I get the ultimate joy of just leaning back and listening. And I still laugh out loud at many of the parts.

Here is a link to the Fringe Website

And here is where you can pick up tickets

Fringe it up!

And spammers be quiet now.


Woo-back the Sask edition

On the cusp of leaving for a mini-tour to the motherland (Saskatchewan), I thought I'd post a woo-back with a touch of my home province.

For sure it shows up in my fiction - though never named in Fall in One Day, and I've created some new towns and cities, it most definitely is a Saskatchewan landscape. Without thinking it is where I go when I start to write a story. I still like to write about other places, Mexico, Toronto, and currently, Upper Michigan. But all of those require a bit more research and work. But Sask., well, I just need to start typing and I am there.

10 Years ago in the woo-back - Grey Cup week no less - and me thinking Rider thoughts. Something else that happens when you grow up there.
Have a read, and if you're in Weyburn or Regina next week, stop by and say hi.
I'm at the Weyburn Public Library, Tues. July 11, 7:00

And then at Words in the Park - in Victoria Park, Regina - Noon

And then Chapters bookstore - southern Regina - from 4:00 - 7:00 PM.


Green Fiction

Reed.George2.jpgNo, it is not a misspelling, and I am not talking about Graham Greene again. This is a blog all
about fiction and writing, but I need to make a side step into the world of sports just for amoment.

When I was a kid somebody, maybe my dad, gave me a shirt with the number 34 on the back and a very well known football logo on the front. Number 34 was George Reed, the logo was the Saskatchewan Roughriders. So I was born into this heritage, and those who follow Canadian football know there is nothing like a Rider fan. You find them everywhere, in every city across Canada and even in other countries. There is a joke about landing on another planet and listing the people you would find there - I think it goes like: a lawyer, a reverend, etc., and a Rider fan.

I used to play a bit of football, and watch a lot of it. I don't watch it, or really any sports on TV anymore. I still go to baseball games for the meditative experience, but I don't follow the big leagues. Though, there is a time when my heritage burbles up (if heritages could do that), and it doesn't happen often, barely once a generation. It is when the Riders make it to the big game, the Grey Cup - I don't like calling it Canada's Superbowl, because there is something so uniquely Canadian about it that is defies parallels. There are those people who have never watched a game all year become football fans during Grey Cup week. Although, this does depend on who is playing. And if you believe the media, this year, the year Saskatchewan finally made it to the final, it seems like every man, woman, child and dog has suddenly become a football fan. The ultimate underdogs with the best fans in sport have made it to the show, and it's better than the best fiction.

Me, I'll be thinking of that shirt from my childhood and finding me a case of Saskatchewan Pilsner. That's the one with the green label.

Go Riders.


Woo-back - the Canuck Edition

Me and my closest 30 million friends will be celebrating our home and native land's 150th this year. Very very proud and happy to be a Canadian - and I still might get a bit misty when singing the anthem at a ball game.

I thought I'd use the woo-back machine to search for mentions of Canada over the last 10 years, and of course I came up with a review of a Richard Ford book (an American! Sheesh).

Still, I thought Canada, the novel, was a wonderful read and Ford continues to inspire me in all his writings. His presence in the latest New Yorker, even though it was just an essay, made me buy the issue.

Here is what I thought of Canada, back in 2012:


Canada (Richard Ford) review


Canada by Richard Ford
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If you are looking for a fast paced narrative, full of suspense and robbers on the run (r.o.r. - okay, just made that up), then look elsewhere.
But if you know Ford's elegant, stripped down prose and amazing ability to capture the intricacies of human beings better than any other writer alive (stolen quote form Globe and Mail), and you have the time to immerse yourself in a slow exploration... then this book needs 6 stars, or maybe more.

I know it won't be for everyone - and especially the dismaying amount of readers that want a narrative to drive forward - but this book will ache in my chest long after I have read it. I don't need to give away much in the plot, really there isn't much plot. In 1960, Dell Parson's parents rob a bank, he and his twin sister are set adrift. Berner, his sister, runs to California, Dell is spirited away, pre-911, to cross the border into Canada, and "hide-out" in southwestern Saskatchewan. (Right around where I was born actually). It really isn't a hiding out, but a crossing of a physical border, that parallels the metaphorical border Dell is crossing in his life. 

Sure it is a coming of age of sorts - for me it resonates best with Ford's short stories (Rock Springs) and the novella Wildlife, which also has a young person at its centre, and a shares the setting of Great Falls, Montana. It has less in common with the Bascombe books (Independence Day etc., which I have not liked as much.)
But it is much more than a sixteen year old crossing into adulthood. A melancholy pervades the book, at times it's almost too sad to read, as in when the siblings visit their parents in jail. Ford gets inside people, and even if you can't imagine what Dell's life would be like (ie: have never had a parent commit a criminal act and go to jail), you will recognize yourself in there, you will recognize humanity in there.

Dell tells this story as a 66-year old man (though, this only becomes evident in scant ways, and the voice is a teenager's, one wise beyond his years). And I can't help but think Ford is reflecting on his life through this book - he is returning to a setting from early in his career, and he is thinking about the things that led up to his life now (I think he is almost 70). As I've said, this is a sad and quiet book - but in the best sort of Wim Wenders way. I do think it will make the Pulitzer and National Book lists.

If I have one criticism of the book, it is the use of the cliffhanger type endings in some of the chapters. As in, "and he knew he would never see again", or "later when he found the man dead in the room" (these are paraphrase samples, trying not to spoil anything - but hell, right from the beginning line you know there is a robbery and a murder). I wonder if editors told Ford, "You know it's beautiful and all that, but can you crank up the tension, just a bit?" These bits seem out of place. And I want to say, shut up unnamed editor, I am just fine with the pace. I have seen Ford in interviews, including the Colbert Report (!), himself reminding the interviewer that the book is also about robbery and murders, as if to say, "hey, it's not like that literary stuff that people don't read anymore." Again, I say, Richard, shhh. It's fine. It's more than fine.

I know this is a book I will read again. The controlled and elegant prose needs to be studied. The mood is not something I look forward to, but the feelings, and even the truth, that it evokes create something that I find in classic novels: at the end, I am changed. 

At this point in my life (49), I think a lot of my Saskatchewan upbringing. Incidentally, my father was a goose hunter, also born right around the setting of the novel, and these sections of the book are crystalline in their imagery. And I think of borders, what it means to cross over them, and to never return.
My favorite quote in the book is the narrator quoting Ruskin,
"Composition is the arrangement of unequal things."

This is what Ford does. He takes these unequal things in our lives, and he puts them into stories that tell us who we are.


Lansdale in the woo back!

Just remembered it's Friday. I know, I know, how weird is that?

In this week's 10 years ago wooback machine, I went back and looked at my mentions of Mr. Joe R. Lansdale. If you've been reading the blog for the last 10 years, you know he comes up... um... often. (Maybe second only to George Saunders).

So 10 years ago, I was waxing on about The Bottoms. It's still my fave book of his, but he has written a boatload of good ones - notably the entire Hap and Leonard series. Not sure when I started reading him, but here is an earlier post, with an awesome quote at the end:



The yarn spinner

This won't be the last time I mention Joe R. Lansdale at woofreakinhoo - it is hard to know where to even begin with this guy. If you have heard of him, it might be because of the movie Bubba Ho-Tep. I saw that before I read any of his fiction and thought it was one of the most wildly inventive plots I'd seen in, well, forever.

I didn't know at the time that his books were even better. I have a stockpile of them, haven't even read them all yet - I don't want to. I want to savour each one, so I spread them out, a few months apart.

His humour, his wild plots, his amazing characters, they all draw me in. A friend told me my work has some similarities to Landsdale, sometimes I can see that. I say "sometimes" because I don't quite see my work in the same genre. Although, I should add, it is hard to put Lansdale in a genre. I could devote a lot of posts to this guy, and I might.

But for now, I just want to mention what I think may be his finest book, The Bottoms. It is more mainstream than his other books (based on the ones that I have read). A lot of critics have compared it to Harper Lee's most famous, and only, book. But I don't think you can quite saddle it next to To Kill a Mockingbird. Funnier yet, is the comparison to Faulkner. I more respect Faulkner than love him (except for, "As I Lay Dying, which is incredible). For one thing, I think I'd rather sit by a fire and hear Lansdale tell stories than Faulkner.

He is a yarn spinner - and more. The humour that bubbles out of his books and the descriptive language seems natural, never forced. And the kicker for me is that there is something deeper at work. Not always. I thought his book Freezer Burn failed in that area. But "The Bottoms" is a whole 'nother thing. And I can't put the damn thing down.

When I read his stuff, I am always trying to remember my favorite descriptions, just so I can tell someone else about it. Like when he comments on the collective intellect of the Nation family in The Bottoms:

"... if you took the Nation family's brains and wadded them up together and stuck them up a gnat's butt and shook the gnat, it'd sound like a ball bearing in a boxcar."

How fine is that?

Home of Mr. Lansdale