Chapbooks

Men and the Drink by Julie McArthur

Posted on by urbangraffito Posted in Chapbooks, Fresh Raw Cuts, Review | Comments Off on Men and the Drink by Julie McArthur

Men and the Drink by Julie McArthur
Black Bile’s One-off Chapbook Series 3
Black Bile Press, 16pp, $5.00 (CAN)

Review by Mark McCawley

In her second published story, “Men and the Drink”, Humber School alumna Julie McArthur has written a unique story of one woman’s dealings with all the men in her life. What makes this story so unique, though, is how McArthur abandons traditional narrative to develop her protagonist — instead relying upon the relationships, themselves, with the various men in her protagonist’s life to describe her character.

Whether it’s her relationship with a distant father on a road trip, or a co-dependent relationship with her lover, or a friendship with an aging widower — who she really is changes to suit the man she happens to be with at the time. For her father, she’s constantly the little girl attempting to please. For her lover, she is the exact opposite — vixen. For the aging widower, she participates in his weekly fantasy reenactment becoming a replacement for his dead wife over lunch — seeing the meal for something more than what it actually is.
Read more

Sensational Sherri by Nathaniel G. Moore

Posted on by urbangraffito Posted in Chapbooks, Fresh Raw Cuts, Review | Comments Off on Sensational Sherri by Nathaniel G. Moore

Sensational Sherri by Nathaniel G. Moore
Black Bile’s One-off Chapbook Series 3
Black Bile Press, 20pp, $5.00 (CAN)

Reviewed by Mark McCawley

In “Sensational” Sherri Nathaniel G. Moore — Toronto based poet, short fiction writer, cultural activist, and editor of the online cultural magazine Critical Crushes — has written a transgressive, allegorical home-movie-like story of lust, booze, violence, nostalgia, pornography and obsession. In the story, we follow a thirtysomething Ricky Galore, a down and out ex-backyard wrestler in the throes of mediocrity on the verge of tapping out:

“When you tap out, you give up. That’s what it is called: tapping out, he’s tapping out, he just tapped out, surrendering, quitting: he had been giving up each night since the last time he saw Sherri.
Tapping out, counted out, whatever it took to go back through the little curtain backstage, feeling like a total piece of shit.”

By using the media of Wrestling as a virtual substructure for the ongoing relationship between Ricky and Sherri – beautiful, young and sought after – Moore has fashioned a Baudrillardean hyperreality whereby the real and the simulated are as interchangable as the professional wrestlers on pay per view — performances with predetermined outcomes between wrestlers with fictional personalities portrayed as real:

“Everything was fake and did fake things; small moths moved, chomped ice, hot breathing burbled nouns and the go-to: I know . . . I know! I know! trademarked after each utterance TM TM TM, and totally or tots.”

Read more

The Sad Phoenician’s Other Woman by Amanda Earl

Posted on by urbangraffito Posted in Chapbooks, Fresh Raw Cuts, Review | Comments Off on The Sad Phoenician’s Other Woman by Amanda Earl

The Sad Phoenician’s Other Woman by Amanda Earl
published in an edition of 300 copies, March 1st, 2008
above/ground press, 30pp, $4 (CAN)

Reviewed by Mark McCawley

This particular review is as much about one’s literary influences as it is about the two long poems in question. Growing up and becoming a writer in Alberta, in the early 1980s, one could not help but be influenced by the writings of Robert Kroetsch. His influence was on the wind and in the words of so many writers, it would impossible to name them all in this review. Lest to say, generations of Alberta and Western Canadian poets and fiction writers have been influenced by his works. That he has become a fully fledged Canadian literary icon is really no surprise, either, considering his wide influence upon Canadian Literature, in general. On a more personal level, though, Robert Kroetsch came to my personal rescue in September of 1990, rescuing my then Canada Council sponsored reading (at the last minute) by swearing to the CC jury the validity of the press that had published my book. Indeed, a unique gesture from a poet and writer, who up until that time, I had never once met face-to-face. Thus the unique tapestry of literary influences in the overall Canadian mosiac – the closer one looks, the more one examines, the more intriguing are the literary influences.

Case in point – Amanda Earl’s The Sad Phoenician’s Other Woman. In her homage to Robert Kroetsch’s “The Sad Phoenician”, Earl’s long poem reminisces about the exploits and romantic conquests of a woman who loved adverbs (in as much as she loved men) marks a striking contrast to Kroetsch’s poem:

“love hurt him; don’t I know how he felt; just ask me”, “I, The Sad Phoenician of Love, slighted by the woman”

The poet in “The Sad Phoenician” takes on the role of cuckold, lamenting his cuckolding by the women he has known: the girl from Swift Current, the woman from Montreal, yet not once in the poem is there such a word as it applies to women. No wonder the woman from Swift Current had a thing for adverbs, like Amanda Earl. It’s at this point that these two long poems begin to depart, allegorically.
Read more

To the Dogs by Thea Bowering

Posted on by urbangraffito Posted in Chapbooks, Fresh Raw Cuts, Review | Comments Off on To the Dogs by Thea Bowering

To the Dogs by Thea Bowering
published in an edition of 100 copies, 2010
privately printed, 52pp, price unknown

Reviewed by Mark McCawley

Thea Bowering has worked in Edmonton as a bartender, freelance writer, and Film Studies and Creative Writing instructor. Her fiction involves a female flâneur – one who wanders through the streets and avenues, evoking the history of a place, past and present, visiting its bookshops and boutiques, monuments; providing gossip and background to each, all the while looking through blank walls and past mundane edifices glimpsing the human dramas behind and beneath. It is to the conflicting backdrop of Alberta’s Oil Sector and Edmonton’s University culture that Bowering has set her postrealist novelette, To the Dogs.

Bowering’s narrative circles around the female protagonist, narrator, bartender and flâneur, Riel (after Louis Riel) and the romantic love triangle she finds herself a part of with the emotional and psychological grifter and conman, Billy, and the quintessential other woman: Jasmine. In her search for meaning and love, Riel wrestles with concepts of truth and self knowledge throughout To the Dogs, evoking “a hell of the mind” in as much as the possibility of the existence of any potential future:

After living with The Poor, he [Orwell] concluded that: the great redeeming feature of poverty is that it annihilates the future.

That was it. This was the key to Billy and Jasmine’s world that I couldn’t go down into. Somehow Billy and Jasmine had escaped tragedy by staying in the middle of it. They could stand anything. For them, happiness was merely a series of moral lessons missed. Jasmine would forever continue her theatrics in front of her camera, and her eyes would shine with the excitement of love renewed, over and over again; and Billy, he would continue to operate and rot under the guise of union. In the ongoing present there are no sins, only actions, and nobody dies from them. Well, if they do, it’s only another action. Something for all those oil professionals, with their 50 thousand dollar trucks, to run over and obliterate. (To the Dogs, p.44)

Read more

« Previous   1 2 3