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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

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Monday
Mar122007

Pecking out a story

TSavalasB.jpg I watched a couple of movies over the weekend that got me thinking about pace - both in film and in books.

I have a few fave networks, AMC (Amercian Movie Classics) and TCM (Turner Classic Movies), I'm a classic guy. My favorite era is the 70's, a golden age for American Films. But the one that really got me thinking was Birdman of Alcatraz from 1962, with Burt Lancaster. As I am watching this biopic slowly, and I do mean SLOWLY, unfold, I am increasingly drawn in. It's a fascination different than modern movies, which employ fast editing and character arcs on steroids - sometimes, I feel a move is over before it begins and I feel like I have had a cinematic one-night stand.

The part that really gets me in Birdman is this scene where a canary egg is about to hatch. The camera zooms in on the little nest (inside of Stroud's prison cell) and we wait. And wait. And wait some more. Until finally, peck by peck, a little bird struggles to emerge. Remember, this isn't part of a discovery channel doc, where you would expect the camera to linger - it is a Hollywood blockbuster. I couldn't believe the tension and the eventual joyful release when the bird makes it out of the shell. What filmmaker takes the time to do that now?

Same goes for some fiction that moves at that car-exploding cinematic pace - sometimes, I am totally in the mood for that. But often, halfway through this sort of read, I start thinking, why am I wasting my time with this? It's a bit like getting halfway through a big bag of popcorn, and realizing it tastes like cardboard dipped in motor oil.

I am not ranting about these type of books, I hate being a book snob - I say if you like it, just read the damn thing. But for me, disappearing into a well paced story that pecks it's way out of a shell is heavenly. And yep, they still do make them that way. Richard Ford and Don DeLillo come to mind - especially DeLillo's The Body Artist. Not his best book, but I will always remember the opening dialogue between husband and wife. Reading it was like listening to it happen in real time.

Next time, pace and my other weekend movie - The Eiger Sanction.

Link to a bio on the real Birdman, not nearly as charming as Burt Lancaster.

Friday
Mar092007

Impurity

sunlight.jpg I try not to lean too heavy on my art background for story inspiration, but once in a while an artist character slips in. I am in the midst of revising the story, "Get Your Head in the Game", for the collection.

My spacey artist character ponders on the nature of light and paint in this excerpt from the story:

As I trudged to the dumpster, I started thinking about that photo and its light. I wished I could paint like that. Photographers had it easy – if they wanted a colour they'd just point and shoot. Sure, they had to find it first, but how hard is that? When I wanted to replicate the fresh hue of a spring leaf, I had to squirt from three different tubes, mix in my water, test it, add more yellow, a touch of emerald, maybe even a dab of Chinese White (if I’m just not catching the colour) and then finally with a soft supple stroke, lay it across the grain of the paper. That’s what really gets me: the impurity of pigment. No matter how they tried (or how high they jacked the price), they’d never figured out how to put light in a tube.

This expression comes out of a honest desire to be able to purchase new "light in a tube" by Winsor Newton. You think they'd be able to figure that out.

Have a great weekend. 

 

Wednesday
Mar072007

The yarn spinner

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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, and generally was just not that good of a book. "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

Tuesday
Mar062007

Tell me about your childhood...

hairbrush.jpg

If you are like me, you've probably done the radio interview in the bathroom. You know the one where you use the hairbrush for a mic and it goes something like,

"Tell me how it all began"
"Well, Terry..."

If you have read Roddy Doyle's wonderful Barrytown Trilogy or seen the movie the Commitments, you'll get the above reference. I am embarrassed to say that I could relate to the guy in the Commitments interviewing himself.

It's not because I thought someday I'd be famous, but I think everyone, if they're honest, loves to have questions asked about themselves. Well, okay, maybe not the true introverts or the Garbo's that "just vant to be alone" - but many of us would love to answer that "How did it all begin" query.

"Well, I was born at a very early age..."
(insert rimshot here)

This week I am working on an interview that doesn't involve hairbrush mics and someone else, an actual person, is asking the question. The interview is for Smokelong Quarterly and will appear along with my piece, "Night Birds" in the March issue (out on the 15th, I believe).
I have been asked some fine questions and best of all I get to respond by email, which gives me a bit of grace in retracting the dumb things and making me sound a tad more eloquent. Okay, more than a tad.

So, um, uh,... (pause cough), I'll post a link soon.
.. is this thing on? Testing... testing.

Roddy Doyle Interview

Friday
Mar022007

You wanna be a what?

harvey.jpg

  I have read voraciously all my life - starting with Dr. Seuss and moving to William Steig and Norton Juster.

Junior High was all about Sci-Fi - notably Philip K. Dick. High School was a bit of everything, including this new guy I had heard of, John Irving ("The World According to Garp" was a book above me, but dazzling). College was all Vonnegut all the time. Toward the end I started reading Hemingway (I was a late bloomer).

 But as much as I loved it all, I didn't think of being a writer until two things happened. At 22, I read Catcher in the Rye (again, late bloomer). Then a while later, (okay maybe 10 years later) I saw the movie Smoke (based on Paul Auster's work). I looked at IMDB and couldn't believe Smoke came out in 1995 - memory is funny like that. I thought I read Salinger's book and saw Auster's movie shortly after.

Nonetheless, I came home from Smoke stunned, and I couldn't quite say why. I came across this review of the movie.

 
SMOKE is a beautiful movie about nothing at all and at the same time about everything. I don´t even know how to describe it to someone, I guess it´s indescribable. It´s one of those rare movies that it has to be felt. If you don´t feel it, then you are missing the whole point. SMOKE is one of those rare movies which we don´t know how to recommend this to our friends, because it´s so original and simple that there is nothing to describe. Anything we might say ,it only will give the illusion this is an shallow or boring movie. SMOKE is not an adventure, not a drama, not a comedy, not a cops movie, not an action movie, so what it´s about ?!! It´s about life. But in a real way, and surprisingly not boring.

 "It's about life" - maybe that is what struck me.
I clearly remember how a huge beam of light went off in my head. I wanted to be a writer. I wanted to write about life. As I read that, it seems slightly pretentious, yet there it is.

In 2005, Zoetrope reprinted Auster's story, "Auggie Wren's Christmas" - Smoke was based on this story. I wondered if I would get that same shivery feeling reading it. I read the story and I was stunned - I shook at the depth of the emotion. And when I synopsized the story for my wife, I was on the edge of tears until the end, I just needed to weep. And I did. There is something within that story that reaches deep inside me. That is a goal of mine, to write a story that can have that effect on a reader, even years later.

Auster reads Auggie Wren's Christmas