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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


Poutine eating pacifists


The great thing about my bookclub is that no one is afraid to share their opinion - even saying "share" is couching it a bit. It's more like tearing a piece off the raw meat we have thrown in the centre of the room.
This weekend the battlelines were drawn on Gaiman's, American Gods. One guest actually did throw the book down on the floor to visually punctuate his opinion. Like a freshly killed rabbit, the pack jumped on it. You get the idea that this is not your aunt's bookclub.

At the end of the night, I had a new appreciation for what Gaiman was trying to do (even if we couldn't agree what he was trying to do). The talk swung from themes of ancient Gods and people's belief in them, to an outsider's view of America as a nihilistic place, where the media and internet rule. It was a charged night as it touched on some things that seem to bubble out of a lot of our meetings – American manifest destiny for one. Maybe we are obsessed with that in our faux-innocent Northern neighbour position. Gaiman certainly draws the parallel to the God's need for blood to survive and the need for blood sacrifice, like war, in the American psyche. I say faux-innocent, because I think Canadians can get a little smug, thinking we are a bunch of poutine eating, toque wearing pacifist hosers that are nothing like our southern neighbours. I've met folks on both side of the border that prove this stereotype wrong.

The good thing is that I introduced the club to Gaiman and I think he gained a few new fans - and a few that wonder what the hell that was all about. Fiction, often good fiction, can be divisive that way. One person's brilliance can be another one's floor sweepings.

Get a quart of oil and make your own poutine.


It's better in a FORD Tonight, my bookclub is discussing American Gods by Neil Gaiman. It's a bit of departure from a club that in the past couple of years has looked at Moby Dick, Children of the Alley (Naguib Mahfouz) and Gilead (Marilynne Robinson) - those of you who are genre-jumpers like me know that "departure" is an understatement.

I like Gaiman's work, but I don't love it. American Gods doesn't have the deep resonance of a book like Gilead – though, that is really like comparing apples to Winnebagos. But I admire his storytelling ability, in the same way that I admire (but don't love) Stephen King.

It got me thinking about plot and story, and specifically, how much happens in a story. Gaiman has people tied up in trees sitting vigil for Odin as other gods swoop down on thunderbirds and the true god of Easter makes dead plants live and wives come back from the dead, and mystic moon goddesses produce golden coins and magic, and blood and, and, and....
Yes, it is a sort of breathless fiction.

Then I read this from the other book on my bedside.

"The train flashed through a small Montana town without stopping – two crossing gates with bells and red lanterns, a row of darkened stores, an empty rodeo corral with two cows standing alone under a bright floodlight. A single car was waiting to cross, its parking lights shining. It all disappeared. Sims could hear a train whistle far off."

On man, how I LOVE Richard Ford. The above is from his story, "Empire", from Rock Springs. I came across that paragrah and I immediately wanted to slow down, to read it again, to be there on that train, seeing the cows, the lights, hearing the whistle. It is so evocative of mood and place and full of resonance. But why? Isn't it just a couple of cows in a nowhere town? Where the hell is Odin and that crazy moon goddess? Could somebody please blow something up?

And that's the strange thing. Gaiman's work moves at a breakneck speed across the page, in my brain and right out again. Nothing sticks. Don't get me wrong, I am NOT a book snob - I say if you love it, hell, even if you just like it, then READ IT! (Notable exception: Any book by Dan Brown - which should be banned in schools, not for content, but for promoting horrible, shallow writing) I digress.

Richard Ford stories get into my head and they stay there. That's why I read and re-read his work. And Gaiman, yeah, I'll read another one, because like a ice-cold Coors Light on a blazing summer day, it tastes good - but it goes right through ya.
I guess I try to place my own fiction somewhere between these two. I strive to create moments of resonance like Ford can, but once in a while I want to blow something up – to create something that will make the reader go, "Hey, that's cool." Because I know cows under streetlights doesn't do it for everyone.

Link to interview with Richard Ford on publication of, "A Multitude of Sins" - another book I am re-reading.

Gaiman's official site.


Pafko at the wall... in Wisconsin

pafko.jpg It's February and it's mother-unbelievable cold - so I am thinking of baseball. Not spring training, or the upcoming season openers, but baseball in fiction. Baseball plays a large metaphorical part in my novel Correction Line. I find the game inspirational, fiction-wise I mean, even more than the actual watching of games. Hey, I've sat through a few 13 inning pitcher's duel bored out of my skull with some guying yelling "Get your Red Hots" about every ten minutes in my ear. It wasn't pretty.

But like my favorite fiction it is the undercurrent of the game that gets me. Maybe that's why I love listening to games on the radio more than watching them on TV. The sound seems to come from a great distance, maybe another planet. You can hear the rumble of the crowd and the echo in the announcer's voice.

Best of all, you have to visualize every hit, run and at the wall catch.

I still remember being stuck in the middle of nowhere Wisconsin, at a great-uncle's place, drinking Olympia beer and listening to the Brewers and the Reds. I don't remember who won, or even how we ended up at his place - but I can see the scene in my mind, and the undercurrent of being 18 years old and wondering what was going to happen next.

When I read the prologue to Don DeLillo's Underworld (Pafko at the Wall), I had that same sensation that I had felt in Wisconsin - what in the hell will happen next.
I want to create moments like that.

Link to what I consider the best DeLillo site anywhere Don DeLillo's America


In a Grove with Toshiro

52_feature_350x180.jpg One of the inspirations for my fiction has been the films of Akira Kurosawa - but it's one of those things that I find hard to say why. It's not like I am writing allegorical Japanese Samurai tales on the Canadian prairies. And I am not styling characters after the great Toshiro Mifune, who for my money has the coolest name for an actor ever - way more bad ass that say, Clint Eastwood. Just to digress for a second, rent Yojimbo and Fistful of Dollars and watch them back to back. You tell me if you don't see a LOT of Eastwood mannerisms modeled after Mifune. Hell, the poncho is pretty much a kimono.

ANYWAY... I found a copy of Rashomon by Akutagawa Ryunosuke in a used bookstore. I'd read the story collection in the past, maybe a library book, I can't recall. It's always interesting to me when I return to a book years later, at a different stage of life, and in this case, a different stage of being a writer.

I am struck by the pared down simple prose, maybe because I have been reading a lot of Richard Ford lately, the similarities struck me. And how both books (Rashomon and Ford's Rock Springs) are going after a certain kind of truth. The point of view structure in Rashomon was made famous through the Kurosawa film (which combined 2 stories from the collection, In a Grove and Rashomon). This structure continues to show up in everything from animated films (Hoodwinked), crime dramas (CSI 2006 episode - Rashomania), cool Jim Jarmusch movies (Ghost Dog) and even Homer gives it a mention.
Marge: 'You liked Rashomon.'
Homer: 'That's not how I remember it.'

I think about this structure when writing my fiction. Not neccesarily the telling of the story through different narrators, but how the truth of a tale spills onto the page based on who is the storyteller, and in a Rashomon type trick, the viewpoint through a character created by the writer. Don't think about this too long, it will hurt your head. It hurts mine.

Text for In a Grove</


Woo What?

So what's the deal? Woofreakinhoo?

I remember when I was a kid hanging around the swimming pool. It's what we did in the summer. We'd swim, but more importantly we would eat bags of ketchup chips, watch the jocks jump off the high board, and generally try to look cool as we stretched our bodies across the bleachers.

I remember this kid who loved the F word, well maybe he didn't love it but it peppered his speech so much that he even inserted in between words. Fan--f***ing-tastic. That sort of thing.

Flash forward a few decades and I find myself a bit of a fan of certain words, so much so that I insert them into other words.

Recently, I was thrilled to have a story picked up by a magazine that I always wanted to get into.

My response spawned the name of this blog.
How bomfreakinbastic is that?


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