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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


You wanna be a what?


  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


Shuffle over to 3:AM

My story, "Shuffle" is up at 3:AM magazine. Have a look and tell me what you think.

And if you scroll down a bit too the Flaming Noggin Writing post - I write about how this tale came to be.

Here is the 3:AM link – SHUFFLE


A brief woohoo


This morning, I finished what may be the last story of my collection, working title: The Plate Spinner. The story, Ziggurat, feels like the sort of story that would be the last in a collection - maybe, it's the "Z" in the title, or the feeling that an end has come (the main character is reflecting on his father's funeral).

Presently, I am going through my "raw" material and seeing if I have enough to carve out my manuscript or if I need one more story.

So that part is a woohoo - going to the next stage in revision, I mean. The other woohoo is 3:AM is working on my story right now and it should be up soon, today, even.

Stay tuned.


The Best List

I was an Oscar junkie before I knew what the word meant - "junkie", not oscar, those were wieners. I loved movies and everything about them. I spent whole afternoons at my library reading about Capra, Hitchcock and Ford. Yes, a kid reading film criticism is a bit weird, but hey, it was a small town, I had to do something.

I was probably a pain to go to the movies with. I remember the people sitting next to me were often "shushed" so I could hear the dialogue – this was at the Saturday matinee, playing such cinematic gems as "Pinocchio In Outer Space" (yes, that is a real movie - see the still above).

Oscar night was one of the few nights that I could stay up late - even until midnight, if needed, and it often was. For some reason, I remember them as being in April, but that must be some childhood fog. But I do recall vividly how I was mesmerized by the spectacle. A lot of the movies, I had never seen, actors and directors I had barely heard of – but would be researching at the library the next week. I remember watching the clips for Cabaret (what's that about, mom?) and seeing the streaker run past David Niven (what's THAT about, mom?).

I haven't missed an Oscar night in years. I now have a devoted group of movie lovers that come over to eat, laugh at the dresses, drink, yell at the screen, and eat some more. We have the ballots and everyone throws a toonie in the pot - yours truly has faired well over the years, gaining some coffee money for the week. Alas, last night was a bust, my crystal ball was way off and I had to be satisfied with the fact that one of my favorite actors of all time (Alan Arkin) won, against the odds. Hell, I didn't even put his name on the ballot – but I was still happy.

This being a blog about fiction, I finally reach my point about storytelling. I have become increasingly aware that my favorite film of the year walks away with one of the screenplay awards, usually the Best Original Screen-play. When I am watching a movie that I love, I can almost sense it, this is such damn fine writing, it HAS to win screenplay. And quite often, it does. Looking at the list of screenplay winners over the years, it's like a list of my favorite films.

Starting with Citizen Kane (1941), then On the Waterfront (1954), The Apartment (1960), The Producers (1968), Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969), Midnight Cowboy (1969 - adapted) Patton (1970 - written by Francis Ford Coppola!), MASH (1970 adapted). When it hits the 70's, that is when I really notice - The French Connection (1971 - adapted)), The Godfather (1972 and Part Two in 1974 adapted), The Candidate (1972), The Sting (1973), Chinatown (1974), Dog Day Afternoon (1975), One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest (1975 - adapted), All the President's Men (1976 - adapted).

The 70's were called the Second Golden age in American Film making for a reason. As the studios rose in power and the blockbuster emerged (curse you George Lucas and Spielberg), the 80's tanked. I looked over the winners and shook my head. Maybe Melvin and Howard (1980) and a couple of others, but mostly the well written movie went in the toilet.

The 90's started out bad, I mean Ghost (1990)! That piece of crap with Demi Moore and Mr.Dirty Dancing himself? Oh please, could we just have someone original appear, anyone, someone....

Then a ray of hope - Pulp Fiction (1994) - thank-you Mr. Tarentino. Then, the Usual Suspects (1995) and even better Fargo (1996) -thank-you Mr. and Mrs. Cohen for your brilliant sons. Then in quick succession L.A. Confidential (1997 - adapted from the amazing James Ellroy), Shakespeare in Love (1998) and American Beauty (1999) - I am like, whoa, check your decade clock! Is this another golden age?

I haven't checked the data, but in my head the other trend that emerged was that the best written picture did not translate to the Best Picture award. That award seemed to be based on some other criteria, possibly signals sent from another planet (Titanic anyone?). But that's okay, I knew which category mattered.

Almost Famous (2000), Gosford Park (2001), Lost in Translation (2003), Lord of the Rings (2003 - adapted - showing that blockbusters can also be well written. Though, it helps when you have Tolkien as source material) Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004), Sideways (2004 Adapted) and last night, my favorite movie of the year, the one I knew would not win Best Picture (but secretly hoped), Little Miss Sunshine (2006). I remember watching it and remarking to me son, best written thing I have seen this year, gotta win screenplay.

Until next year. 


Prairie Ziggurat


I have been working on a story called, "Ziggurat" for my collection. The image of the ancient Ziggurat bubbled out of my head as I pictured the prairie version of this stone structure. Shown above, though faraway, is an inland terminal. These concrete monsters rose above the flat landscape, replacing the wooden grain elevators that used to loom overhead - though, "loom" isn't quite right for the elevators. They were beautiful buildings, sometimes painted in deep oranges or reds, or soft blues. They looked like they were built by people and had a charm to them. I remember one night when one burned to the ground - the spectacle drew people out of their homes and into the street. More than a few eyes were wet, as we knew the building would not be replaced.

I say "were" because grain elevators are disappearing - I had this idea once to get in a van and go on a art and photography tour of those still standing. I went on a mini-one a few years back, stopping at every small town along a 200 mile stretch and taking photos of the elevators. Maybe I will go on a longer one before it is too late.

Inland terminals loom - these concrete goliaths rise out of the sky and cast long shadows. They are cold, stiff structures that do not sway in the wind. They look like they were built for the gods and maybe by gods, heartless gods.

From my story, "Ziggurat"
The sky is devoid of any clouds and the wind doesn't cool you down, it just blows like hell and pushes the heat around. I’m in a dark navy Arrow shirt, black dress pants, and a black tie that threatens to choke me. Behind me, an inland grain terminal rises out the landscape like a Ziggurat without the steps. The shadow it casts makes me, just for a moment, understand idol worship.

The word popped into my head while I was writing - I had not thought of the comparison before, hadn't thought of the word, "Ziggurat" for years, back in Grade Nine history of ancient civilizations maybe.

Looking at the pictures above, I see why the image appeared.