Search woofreakinhoo
  • 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


Waiting for Clint


Speaking of pace...

Wait for it...

We can be an impatient bunch, us humans, I mean. As I said in my last post, the other weekend movie that got me thinking about pace was The Eiger Sanction with Clint Eastwood. I have seen this movie many times, it seems to pop up on TV quite a bit. As a kid, I remember loving it, but I loved all the things Eastwood - even weird stuff like Paint Your Wagon, where Clint and a furry Lee Marvin warbled about Maria.

The Eiger Sanction is full of cheesy lines, misogynist overtones (lots of girls getting slapped on the butt) and some not so subtle racist jokes. It is not primo Eastwood - but there is something that entices. I think it is the way the story unfolds, for an action film it is quite leisurely (as a lot of action films were in the 70's - certainly compared to now). Even the climactic sequence on the ice covered mountain is a bit on the slow side. So why is it so compelling? I think it has a lot to do with the character development that has been allowed to happen. We care about Clint, we want him to get the bad guys and the girl, we want him to figure it out and go back to his swinging art pad with Jemima Brown (like I said, not so subtle racism).

The key is you gotta care. I think if I care enough about a character the pacing of a story is ALMOST inconsequential. That is an important "almost" because pace does matter. I am thinking of Marilynne Robinson's Pulitzer winning novel, Gilead. The pace of that book makes you feel yourself aging. It was also the most compelling book I read last year and contains a character that will resonate with me for years.
Simply put, you gotta care.

Next time on pace - more about Lansdale. Now that's a different pace!

Link to Eiger Sanction Trailer - you gotta watch this one just to hear the voice over. You know this guy, he did all the voice overs back then.


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.



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. 



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, 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


Tell me about your childhood...


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