Sunday, June 16, 2019

The Business Army


On a novel about an attempted American coup d’état. Based in fact.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Friday, June 07, 2019

The Save and Preserve Film Festival, in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia.

Honoured to have some work selected for the upcoming "Save and Preserve Film Festival", in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia.

For more info, click here.

Stills connected to some of my work below.
*

Для меня большая честь, что некоторые работы были отобраны для предстоящего «Фестиваля спасения и сохранения» в Ханты-Мансийске, Россия.


Для дополнительной информации щелкните здесь.


Кадры, связанные с некоторыми из моих работ ниже.

*

Honoré d'avoir sélectionné certaines œuvres pour le prochain "Save and Preserve Film Festival", à Khanty-Mansiysk, en Russie.


Pour plus d'informations, cliquez ici.


Des images liées à certains de mes travaux ci-dessous.



Friday, May 31, 2019

The Business Army — Gerry MacGuire and “the nine”

The Business Army -- "The Nine"

Several days later. Mid-day. The beginning of August.

The sky has turned hazy and still. Outside, the electric, orchestral sound of crickets and the distant drone of cicadas.

There is a knock on the door.

Butler walks to the door and opens it. There stands MacGuire, this time alone. MacGuire, smiling once again at the General, lets out a friendly laugh.

"The hot days have really started, haven't they, sir?" he says, his voice a sudden gush. "Thank you, thank you for letting me drop by."

"You've been dropping by quite a bit lately, haven't you?"

"Sir, it's for the good of the Legion."

The two walk to Butler's office, and Butler takes his regular position behind his desk, while MacGuire once more plunks himself in one of the chairs, his physical bulk seemingly diminished by his surroundings.

"I think you've got some explaining to do," Butler says.

"You know, I can explain whatever you want, sir."

"This money that you showed me earlier—where did you get all this money? It cannot be yours."

"Well, y'see, this movement to unhorse the Royal Family, there are other people behind it. Bigger men than me."

"Go on."

"Well, there are nine of them. And the biggest contributor has given me $9,000. And the donations, they run all the way from $2,500 to $9,000."

"What's the object of all this?"

"Well, the object is to take care of the rank and file of the soldiers. To get them their bonus and get them properly cared for."

"With all due respect, Mr. MacGuire, it's time for us to get down to brass tacks. The kind of people who are in favor of the gold standard are not the kind of people in favor of paying the bonus now. If anything, the opposite. That's why Hoover in the first place thought he could get away with busting up the Bonus March the way he did."

"Oh, no, sir, you're wrong about that."

*
Full novel here:

http://www.eclectica.org/v23n2/harvor.html

Monday, May 20, 2019

Greening Korea - at the Save and Preserve Eco Festival, Russia

Honoured to have some work selected for the upcoming "Save and Preserve Film Festival", in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia.

For more info, click here.

Stills connected to some of my work below.
*

Для меня большая честь, что некоторые работы были отобраны для предстоящего «Фестиваля спасения и сохранения» в Ханты-Мансийске, Россия.


Для дополнительной информации щелкните здесь.


Кадры, связанные с некоторыми из моих работ ниже.

*

Honoré d'avoir sélectionné certaines œuvres pour le prochain "Save and Preserve Film Festival", à Khanty-Mansiysk, en Russie.


Pour plus d'informations, cliquez ici.


Des images liées à certains de mes travaux ci-dessous.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

The Save and Preserve Film Festival, in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia.

Honoured to have some work selected for the upcoming "Save and Preserve Film Festival", in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia.

For more info, click here.

Stills connected to some of my work below.
*

Для меня большая честь, что некоторые работы были отобраны для предстоящего «Фестиваля спасения и сохранения» в Ханты-Мансийске, Россия.


Для дополнительной информации щелкните здесь.


Кадры, связанные с некоторыми из моих работ ниже.

*

Honoré d'avoir sélectionné certaines œuvres pour le prochain "Save and Preserve Film Festival", à Khanty-Mansiysk, en Russie.


Pour plus d'informations, cliquez ici.


Des images liées à certains de mes travaux ci-dessous.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

To Save and Preserve - an eco-film festival in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia

Honoured to have some work selected for the upcoming "Save and Preserve Film Festival", in Khanty-Mansiysk, Russia.

For more info, click here.

Stills connected to some of my work below.
*

Для меня большая честь, что некоторые работы были отобраны для предстоящего «Фестиваля спасения и сохранения» в Ханты-Мансийске, Россия.


Для дополнительной информации щелкните здесь.


Кадры, связанные с некоторыми из моих работ ниже.

*

Honoré d'avoir sélectionné certaines œuvres pour le prochain "Save and Preserve Film Festival", à Khanty-Mansiysk, en Russie.


Pour plus d'informations, cliquez ici.


Des images liées à certains de mes travaux ci-dessous.





Thursday, May 09, 2019

The Business Army - traduction francaise

Un extrait de mon roman sur la Grande Dépression et une tentative de coup d'Etat fasciste aux États-Unis:


"Bon sang, nous allons recevoir des ordres de vos semblables! Vous n'êtes qu'un pion! Ne sentez-vous pas honte? Il y a des anciens combattants ici qui peuvent à peine nourrir leur famille! vous commencez à donner des cours aux autres sur leur devoir? "

Mais les troupes ne sont pas émues. Et tandis qu’ils continuent leur progression, les manifestants sont obligés de choisir entre la retraite et le faible défi aux non-armés qui, bientôt, se transforment en défaite.

Un autre officier siffle brusquement et un deuxième bataillon de cavalerie plus agressif avance. Une fois sur la foule, certains soldats retournent leurs fusils et utilisent leurs crosses comme des matraques.

Derrière le fantassin, qui avance également, se trouve une colonne de chars. Au milieu d'eux se trouve la figure de George S. Patton. Il surveille la foule pendant quelques instants. Puis il dit à ses équipages: "Charge!"

Les chars crient en avant; l'infanterie piétine en rythme, la cavalerie gémit et attaque. Les manifestants sont maintenant divisés en une série de groupes dispersés. Certains se mettent à courir. D'autres crient, poussent et poussent. Mais à quelques mètres de là, il semble presque que les manifestants aient une chance: les troupes, les chevaux et les tanks ne semblent pas remporter une victoire nette. Puis un coup de feu retentit, suivi d'un autre. On entend une voix de femme crier avec hystérie: "Jésus! Seigneur Jésus!"

Cela semble seulement raidir une partie de la résistance des manifestants, même si quelqu'un d'autre, sa voix aussi hystérique, crie: "Docteur!" et le melée atteint son crescendo.



Roman complet chez Eclectica: http://www.eclectica.org/v23n2/harvor.html

The Business Army



An excerpt from my novel about the Great Depression and an attempted fascist coup in the United States:

"The hell we'll take orders from the likes of you! You're just a pawn! Don't you feel any shame? There are veterans here who can barely feed their families! Why don't you think of justice first before you start lecturing others on their duty?"
But the troops are unmoved. And as they continue their advance, the demonstrators are forced to choose between retreat and the feeble defiance of the un-armed which, soon enough, turns to defeat.
A different officer blows a whistle sharply, and second, more aggressive battalion of cavalry move forward. Some of the soldiers, upon reaching the crowd, reverse their rifles and use their butts like truncheons.
Behind the foot soldier, also advancing, is a column of tanks. In the midst of them is the figure of George S. Patton. He surveys the crowd for a few moments. Then he says to his crews, "Charge!"
The tanks trundle-squeak forward; the infantry stomp in rhythm, the cavalry whinny and attack. The demonstrators are now divided into a series of broken up groups. Some turn to run. Others scream, push and shove. But from several yards away, it seems almost as if the demonstrators might have a chance: the troops and the horses and the tanks do not seem to be achieving a clear victory. Then a shot rings out, followed by another. A woman's voice can be heard screaming hysterically, "Jesus! Lord Jesus!"
This only seems to stiffen some of the demonstrators' resistance, even as someone else, his voice also hysterical, calls out, "Doctor!" and the melée reaches its crescendo.

Full novel at Eclectica:  http://www.eclectica.org/v23n2/harvor.html

Brother


The Violence of Sadness, YouTube link: https://youtu.be/nqEo77CC3mo

Summer Gone, Summer Gone - Ottawa, 1967


Monday, May 06, 2019

The Business Army - excerpt


Washington, 1933. The Great Depression is at its worst. The Roosevelt administration is determined to do something, but feels constrained by conservative opinion.
*

The interior of the Oval Office.
It is three days after the inauguration. Roosevelt sits behind his desk, surrounded by advisors, including Lew Douglas, Rexford Tugwell, Ray Moley, Louis Howe and James Farley.
Roosevelt states, "We have to stop this bleeding of the banks."
Lew Douglas says, "We could create our own banks."
Roosevelt: "How do you mean?"
Ray Moley, a soft-spoken man who is going genially bald, cuts in, "We could create a national chain of banks. They would be backed by government-issued bonds. People would have a guarantee their savings are secure."
James Farley, fleshy-faced, earnestly expressive, says, "We can't do that. That would be equivalent to nationalizing the current system."
Rexford Tugwell looks at Farley. "So?"
"The people won't have it. Not the businessmen and the professional folk—the 'doctors and accountants and whatnot.' This is a country built on enterprise, not government interference."



Complete novel at Eclectica Magazine: http://www.eclectica.org/v23n2/harvor.html

The Business Army - meeting General Butler


Video excerpt from my screenplay-novel. Complete text now published at Eclectica: http://www.eclectica.org/v23n2/harvor.html

봄/ printemps/ spring


Sunday, April 14, 2019

The Business Army [opening]




Excerpt from the opening of The Business Army, now online at Eclectica:

PART ONE
CHAPTER ONE
July 28, 1932. Washington
The sky is a high, mid-summer blue. It has a quality of vast, apparently infinite, peacefulness. Cumulus clouds—as grand as towers—float through the sky, while at ground level the white dome of the Capitol also resembles an immense, majestic cloud.

But also at ground level a demonstration is taking place. A group of World War One veterans moves down a boulevard in one direction while a small group of cavalry backed by a battalion of foot soldiers approaches from the other.

The veterans are mainly dressed in mufti: the neat but inappropriately warm wool trousers of people with only one good pair of pants to wear, white shirts with the sleeves rolled up, or worn-out, shiny jackets. Some are also dressed in doughboy uniforms. But all of them look both impoverished and determined, like a peasant army marching with ragtag determination toward the walls of a royal castle.

Then one of the cavalry's horsemen rushes forward and wades into the crowd. The crowd tries to to stand its territory but almost as quickly pulls back with instinctive fear. The horse rears up, its sweating brown flanks rippling with quivering muscle as the animal's hooves spin dangerously in the air; living clubs.

Two or three in the crowd shriek. Behind them, some others call out the demonstration's rallying cry: "Bonus! Bonus!"

Then the horse stomps to all fours, its rider yanks the animal's reins, and the demonstrators inch a little farther forward with cautious determination.

To one side of this scene, watching attentively, stands the figure of General Douglas MacArthur. He is impeccable attired in a cavalry uniform, freshly pressed, plumped jodhpurs, and brown riding boots glossed to a fastidious sheen. Next to MacArthur is Major Dwight Eisenhower. He is dressed in civilian clothes: light trousers, a dark jacket and incongruous straw hat. He also looks on the scene taking place attentively, but with some embarrassment. MacArthur, however, is unaware of his aide-de-camp's discomfort; his nostrils, petitely equine, flare with impatience. He calls out to the captain leading the infantry battalion: "You there. Why aren't those troops moving faster?"

The captain calls back, "Sir, they're going as fast as they safely can."

"Don't make them go 'safely.' Make them go."

The infantry advance, their long rifles down, their bayonets forward. In the crowd of demonstrators, individuals—with the bravado of the doomed brave—call out.

"Bonus! A fair bonus for the veteran now!"

"Where's Hoover's heart?"

"We fought for this country! All we're asking for is help at a time of need!"

But the infantry keeps methodically approaching, and when they encounter the first demonstrators, they implacably keep their bayonets at chest level.

A demonstrator, his voice suddenly urgent, cries at the troops, "You brutes! Can't you see there are women and children here?"

The captain leading the infantry battalion says loudly, his tone commanding and bland, "Move on, you people. Move on. Remember, you were in uniform once. Do what you're told. It's for the best."
A man in the background steps to the front of the crowd. He has the hungry, alert look of one who would be either categorized as a troublemaker or hero, depending on one's allegiances.

"The hell we'll take orders from the likes of you! You're just a pawn! Don't you feel any shame? There are veterans here who can barely feed their families! Why don't you think of justice first before you start lecturing others on their duty?"

But the troops are unmoved. And as they continue their advance, the demonstrators are forced to choose between retreat and the feeble defiance of the un-armed which, soon enough, turns to defeat.
A different officer blows a whistle sharply, and second, more aggressive battalion of cavalry move forward. Some of the soldiers, upon reaching the crowd, reverse their rifles and use their butts like truncheons.

Behind the foot soldier, also advancing, is a column of tanks. In the midst of them is the figure of George S. Patton. He surveys the crowd for a few moments. Then he says to his crews, "Charge!"
The tanks trundle-squeak forward; the infantry stomp in rhythm, the cavalry whinny and attack.

The demonstrators are now divided into a series of broken up groups. Some turn to run. Others scream, push and shove. But from several yards away, it seems almost as if the demonstrators might have a chance: the troops and the horses and the tanks do not seem to be achieving a clear victory.

Then a shot rings out, followed by another. A woman's voice can be heard screaming hysterically, "Jesus! Lord Jesus!"

This only seems to stiffen some of the demonstrators' resistance, even as someone else, his voice also hysterical, calls out, "Doctor!" and the melée reaches its crescendo.

Link: http://www.eclectica.org/v23n2/harvor.html

Saturday, April 13, 2019

The Business Army


A shirt authorial videostory based on my novel The Business Army, now at Eclectica: http://www.eclectica.org/v23n2/harvor.html

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Noteworthy

Brian Busby on the Arch-Satirist

Avant-Cinema, Gjost World: Animal Rites

Monday, March 11, 2019

Axe City 5


Ext. Busy street in Toronto. Day.

The youngish man (whose name is Lars) makes his way down the sidewalk. All around him, the hyperactive slush of hurrying, frantic humanity.

Thursday, March 07, 2019

Axe City - four


Int. The Toronto Reference Library. Day.

The youngish man looks to his left. He notices another man who is clearly very absorbed in whatever it is that is on his computer screen. After a moment, the second man looks at the first.

Second man: Lookit this, willya?

First man (youngish): What?

Second man: It's friggin' Justin Trudeau.

First man: Okaaaay.

Second man: He's really in trouble now, eh? [chortles with a phlegmy laugh]

PeaceWalk 2, new cut


Sunday, February 24, 2019

Axe City - three



Ext. Toronto downtown. Day

The  youngish man trudges along the slush-soupy sidewalk. Out of the corner of his eye, the brick red ziggurat of the Metro Toronto Reference Library. On an impulse (telling himself he has to use the washroom), he enters.

Ont. The library. Day.

A moment later.

In the vast atrium, people are everywhere at a series of communal desks. They are students, mainly. A group he not only belonged to not so long ago, but that he keeps phasing in and out of.





Axe City, two


Ext. Street, downtown Toronto. Day.

The youngish man emerges from a subway station that’s connected to an aging but still popular shopping mall. Grayness is everywhere: inside the building and on the noisy, slush-soaked street. But so is the busyness; the chronic energy of the city.

The young man walks down the street.


Sunday, February 17, 2019

Finn Harvor - art CV (abridged)

CURRICULUM VITAE

FINN HARVOR


I am a writer, artist, film-maker and occasional musician. I have had art-work in several group shows, mounted two solo shows, written and performed stage work which was in turn videotaped, and made my own movies. My interest in art-and-text work goes back many years, initially to involvement with underground comics (bandes dessinées).

As a professional writer, I have published articles in several Canadian, Korean, British and American publications (both online and in print). My freelance career has spanned many years, and I have worked in many mediums: from writing to radio broadcasting to script-writing for films and theatre. Academically, I have presented papers to conferences in Jember (Indonesia), Helsinki, Kuala Lumpur, Osaka, and Oxford, and have written on Thomas De Quincey, William Blake, Yoon Heung-gil and Richard Kim, as well as analyses of changes currently taking place in the publishing industry. I have proofread children's books in Korea and edited countless student essays.

Below is a selection of my accomplishments.

SmartFilm Website
Dec. 31/18
Link to “Portrait of C”, as well as poster art for three other projects.

InShort Film Festival
Lago, Nigeria
Sheraton Hotel, Lagos
December 17/19
Fourteen movies selected as semi-finalists with laurels, including “The Violence of Sadness” and “Meat”
[Only finalists screened]

Athens International Video Poetry Film Festival (Athens, Greece)
Winter 2018 (December 17, 2018)
Screening of "Portrait of C" [finalist]

North by Northeast [curated gallery event]
December 7, 2018, London, UK
Screening of “Meat”

North Bellarine Film Festival
November 16, 2018
Drysdale
Screening of “Makin' Shelter”

Conference on the Image
November 2, 2018
Hong Kong, Baptist University
Pop-up gallery
screening of “Insects' World” [premiere]

Rabbitheart Film Festival
Worcester, Massachussetts
Autumn 2018
Screening of “The Wargasm” [curators' choice]

O'Bheal Videopoetry Festival,
Autumn, 2018
October 14, 2018, Cork, Ireland
Screening of “Portrait of C” [finalist]

O'Bheal Videopoetry Festival, Cork, Ireland
Autumn, 2018
October 14, 2018, Cork, Ireland
Screening of “The Violence of Sadness II” [finalist]

The Silk Road Videopoetry Festival
June 21, 2018
National Library of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Almaty
Screening of “The Violence of Sadness II” [finalist]

Athens International Video Poetry Film Festival (Athens, Greece)
Winter 2017/2018 (January 19/20, 2018)
Screening of "The War on Smog" [finalist]

MIX Conference, Bath Spa University
Bath, UK.  (July 10 - 12, 2017)
Screening of "The Carpet 1" [finalist]

MIX Conference, Bath Spa University
Bath, UK.  (July 10 - 12, 2017)
Presentation: "Feeling Need" (July 10)

MIX Conference, Bath Spa University
Bath, UK.  (July 10 - 12, 2017)
Presentation: "Toward an art of the Anthropocene" (July 12)

Poetry Film Live
Bristol, UK (spring, 2017)
Online screening, publication of Refugee-ism.

Society of Comparative Literature (Seoul, South Korea)
October, 2016
Screening of "Sound into World"

Athens Poetry Film Festival (Athens, Greece)
Autumn, 2016
Screening of "Baram CVII" [finalist]


Pacifism21, 15 January 2016

“Narratives of Ignorance”. An article on North Korea and its perceptions in Western media

link:

http://pacifism21.org/narratives-of-ignorance-how-we-fail-to-see-north-korea


Pacifism21, 25 January 2016

“Yi Mun-yol's literary appointment with North Korea”. An article on Korean writer Yi Mun-yol.

link:

http://pacifism21.org/yi-mun-yol-literary-appointment-with-north-korea


Rabbit Heart poetry film festival, October 2015. Four videopoems screened as non-finalists.

“Conversations in the Book Trade”

Articles, short stories, and poems published in many publications, including The Canadian Forum, This Magazine, The Brooklyn Rail, Eclectica, Former People, and elsewhere.

Conference presentations to academic conferences in Oxford, Bath, Liverpool, Berlin, Dubrovnik, Osaka, Youngju, Seoul, and Hingston Kong.

An ongoing online project comprised mainly of interviews with publishers and critics, including Phil Marchand and Judy Stoffman of the Toronto Star (separate interviews), Ian Brown of the Globe and Mail, TVO and CBC, Richard Nash of Soft Skull Press, Fred Ramey of Unbridled Books, Jennifer Barnes of Raw Dog Screaming Press, Jennifer Banash of Impetus Press, Bev Daurio of Mercury Press, and Scott Esposito of Conversational Reading, among many others. The site has received mention, among elsewhere, in the literary blog of Peter Stothard, the editor of the Book Section of the London Times.

http://conversationsinthebooktrade.blogspot.com [original site]

Other

I have also worked won grants and awards from the Canada Council, Ontario Arts Council and Toronto Arts Council, The Hart House Review and Arthur (the newspaper of Trent University). I have a BA (Cultural Studies) from Trent University, and an MA (Interdisciplinary Studies) from York University. I am working on three interlinked novel manuscripts, and have had group and solo shows of my art.

Hong Kong, stills



Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Axe City - a screenplay story



Fade in.

TORONTO. EXT. LATE DAY.

It is close to quitting time for most of the city's office workers. But for others -- a special sub-group of wage-slavery -- the day is just beginning.


KIPLING SUBWAY STATION. INT. LATE DAY.

A middle aged man (who does not look middle age) makes his way toward the subway platform.



Sunday, February 10, 2019

Brian Fawcett - novelist, poet, critic, magazine publisher




Brian Fawcett - novelist, poet, critic, magazine publisher
[Interview conducted in October, 2012-revised in 2019]
 
1 V. S. Naipaul declared there are not any important writers anymore, Philip Roth predicted the novel will become a cult activity, Peter Stothard has asked if fiction writing simply used to be better, Cullen Murphy, David Shields, Lee Seigel, and Geoff Dyer have all stated that non-fiction is superior to fiction. The list of people of letters who apparently have lost faith in literary fiction goes on and on; it is clear that an elementary questioning of the novel is not a passing cultural phase. Furthermore, the short story seems to be under siege as well: many agents and multinational publishers do not handle/publish story collections, small magazines seem perpetually underfunded, and a YouTube-ification of text and image seems to be taking short narrative in new directions.

What is your opinion? Do the novel and the short story have a future?

First of all, Naipaul was right, and Roth was, too. I think that the novel already is a cult activity, one that has become an economic cult among publishers and writing schools. Hard to say what Peter Stothard is on about, but it seems to me that the best fiction writing is being done for television limited series, and that it’s as good as any fiction ever written. We’re experiencing both technological change and cultural shiftings, so of course everything is changing.

The simple answer is that the novel hasn’t had much of a future since the invention of motion pictures, and the short story has been on borrowed since the invention of television. And then there’s non-fiction, which is perhaps the most epistemologically silly and at the same time most unambitious commercial genre publishers have imposed on writers. What does “non-fiction” mean? That by default, the genre it describes must be factual and true? That writers are thinking in those brainless commercial terms is shameful and self-destructive.

It’s shameful because we’re accepting the terms of an industry so incompetent  that it has managed to turn books into the least valued cultural item produced by Western civilization, and it’s self-destructive because we’ve let industrial book publishers turn writers into museum widgets while we’re still living and breathing.  

A part of this is the imposition, during the post-Soviet capitalist ecstacy of self-congratulation, of the marketplace as the sole model for cultural and educational activities. That has transformed most fiction writing into arid exercises in conventional behavior—trying to please novel-reading little old ladies who want to escape their dowdy lives with Robert McKee-grade mechanical nonsense. The other part, as hinted above,  is a more or less inevitable degradation of the importance of written literature in the face of technology-driven forms of narrative—television series drama (which is approaching a golden age), motion pictures, the Internet, and really, the nightly news, which has writers making up arbitrary narratives about how human reality is unfolding, and at a minute-by-minute speed that authenticates it as fact to the unwary. I’m not a supporter of Donald Trump, but he’s onto something with “fake news”.  I’ve been saying for decades that most news is at very least ideologically constructed and at worst systematically falsified.

All the evidence suggests that what people think of as “literature”—the novel and the short story as cultural artifacts—will end up as a minor heritage activity with little or no cultural impact. I’m probably closest to the position David Shields has, which is that both fiction AND non-fiction are epistemological absurdities, and that the boundary between them was always a cultural illusion, one that we should get over.

I think there IS a way of writing that does have cultural relevance: it’s in that edge of postmodernism that never got far beyond the experimental and the precious, but which I still think holds all of postmodernism’s mineral core, where writers seek a paratactic depth and transparency that allows readers to move as quickly as the human mind now naturally moves while being completely clear about where the contents are coming from and how they’re being deployed. I’ve probably written about 15-20 passages across my various books that succeed at this. It’s really hard work, but it’s also a huge amount of fun. The Spanish writer, Javier Cercas, is probably the most successful writer who regularly achieves this, most recently with Anatomy of a Moment

Will e-technology alter the very forms of the Novel and short story? If so, how?

I think electronic technology has already altered the forms with movies and series television. If you’re talking about E-technology as e-books or screen-reading on the Internet, that’s a more complex issue. E-books work, sort of, and they’ll get better, maybe, and so they might even end up supplanting 20-30 percent of the paper-based book trade. That’s quite a lot less than people thought it would get a few years ago, and the paper-based book trade itself has shrunk noticeably during that time for a raft of reasons that have nothing to do with the presence of E-books.
Personally, I don’t see any of those artifactual and industrial issues as terribly consequential. There remain lots of interesting sentences to be written, and an infinity of worthwhile thoughts to think and to string together into coherence, and that’s what writers need to be thinking about.

A serious danger, meanwhile, lies in the activities of Google and the text mash-up crowd, who are going to, if they get what they want, undermine the evidential and referential systems upon which Western civilization is based.  What’s at risk here is something a hell of a lot more important than books and book publishing: at risk is the rule of law and our judicial systems, which can’t operate without rigorous rules of evidence, precedent, and authorship. What happens to individual authorship is an element in this, but the fate of “literature” isn’t. How e-books will change conventional novels is relatively speaking, also of small moment. Literature and some of its forms are relevant solely because it remains the most effective device for long-form thinking that exists outside scientific research collectives. And long-form thinking is what got human beings most of the good things civilization has created. If we lose it, we’re just a bunch of over-sized baboons, monkeys and lemmings.  Or denizens of a Google campus. 

2 Are the very significant structural changes taking place in the publishing industry having an effect on novel or short story writing? If so, how?

The imposition of the market model is winnowing out writers or publishers who aren’t terminally conventional or independently wealthy. And it’s contributing to the general dumbing down of readers. The current publishing system is both intellectually and economically incompetent, which may be why it’s in a state of collapse.

3. Is the cutting back of mid-lists and a general cautiousness about taking risks on new or relatively unknown writers affecting the caliber of writing that does manage to get into print?

That isn’t quite what’s happening. Before you even get there, you have to address the ongoing problem of over-production across the publishing industry, the most telling and accurate emblem of which is that if you find a box abandoned on a street corner, the box is most likely to be filled with books. Second, inside the industrial model, there are plenty of nuances. Mid-list is a highly moveable feast, one that shifts year-to-year. It’s been a big boon for the last decade to young writers coming out of the creative writing factories, because they’ve primarily been taught how to market themselves, and how to be acceptably conventional. More recently,  minority writers, (in Canada, particularly aboriginalwriters) have been having lots of publishing success, if not always sales success. Publishers are desperately looking for “new, fresh writers” because that’s novelty is a fashionable marketing category, particularly inside a system that’s dysfunctional. But really, if, as a writer, you’re just trying to get laid by the market, why not do real estate, where there’s real money to be made?

4 Do you have an author's website? Does it help you sell books?

No, and no. But I do recognize that it has become the equivalent of having a Visa card: if you don’t have one, you lose elements of full citizenship. My test for this is simple.  Can you find an author’s website that isn’t so crudded with self-congratulation and exaggeration that you feel like barfing after 20 seconds?

5 How do you feel about running an author's website? Do you feel it’s a labour of love or an annoying imposition? Or something else altogether?

I don’t have one, so I can’t say. But I’d think putting one up and updating it every time someone winks at you has to be an ongoing humiliation for any sane writer. Author websites are kind of poster children for the venality of the Internet. Blowing your own horn, once upon a time, automatically got you a reputation as an asshole. I’ve got better things to do than to spend my days secretly updating my Wikipedia entry, or trying to pump smoke up people’s behinds with an author website.  
 
6 Is the selection system for novel and short story manuscripts fair? Should it be made blind?


No, and No. On the first question, no, because it can’t ever be fair. Human beings are social, and thus gossip and sleep with one another and talk and think and do elementary detective work, and so pretending that you’re blind doesn’t work, as anyone who’s ever been on a literary jury knows very well. No to the second question because the alternative to having authors judge one another is to put it in the hands of bureaucrats and their systems. That’s the last thing we should do with literature.

I’ve been on several juries with a blind manuscript selection process. The reality is that the jurors all know who 2/3rds of the writers are, because good writers write distinctive sentences. As a juror I went out of my way to point that out, along with who most of the writers in the competition were. That got me permanently blacklisted from subsequent literary jury duty, but it did get the best manuscripts on the table.

Rick Salutin once remarked that there are only about 900 people in Canada, and that they all know one another—or should. He was talking about Canada as a cultural community. You can foam at the mouth about how shocking and appalling this is, but it won’t change it, and if you erect a bureaucracy aimed at preventing it, you’ll end up in Stalin’s lap with a bunch of tight-assed dickheads telling us what to think and say and do, and there’ll still only be 900 people in the country—and this time, they’ll all be bureaucrats and commissars. We’re not far off that right now, actually.

7 According to media reports, e-book sales now represent a significant percentage of overall sales.


They’re lying about this if they’re still claiming that. And it doesn’t matter, anyway. Small bookstores, when they still existed, saw e-books as a threat to their survival, but they were wrong. The real enemies in Canada were Heather Reisman and Amazon—in that order. Reisman went out of her way to destroy the independent bookselling sector, and has subsequently—mostly out of indifference—has helped bankrupt many of the small publishers in the country, and to turn the funding agencies against them.  There’s no really pleasant future scenario for any of this, but at the same time, it isn’t as dire as it seems. Print people, it turns out, aren’t going get old and die, and there remain lots of reason for publishing books—just not to get rich and/or famous by doing it.

8. Are you enthusiastic about e-books?

No. But not for the reasons you might guess. What worries me about the e-book industry, and its ugly twin electronic self-publishing, is that it will put an end to the editing of books. That would be an intellectual catastrophe, because many self-published e-books right now are really just long blogs, which is to say, they’re mostly unedited. You can see the effect of this already in the U.S. where publishers—even the major ones—are demanding that books arrive already edited. That’s a terribly slippery slope.

9. Do they hold the potential for a renaissance in literary publishing?

Only if you believe in the old Kerouac “Firstthoughtbestthought universe, which I think may have been the greatest disaster to have befallen intellectual life in the late 20th century. I happen to love being edited, for the simple reason that two minds are always better than one.

10. Or are they over-rated and too susceptible to piracy?

I don’t care about ratings or piracy. I care about the demise of editing. That’s a cultural catastrophe.

11. What do you think of literary prizes? As Jason Cowley has commented, they reduce our culture's ability to think in a critically complex fashion? Do they suggest, “this book is worth reading and all these others aren't?”

That isn’t the problem with prize culture. The problem with it is that prizes always reward conventional behavior. And that has led to a situation where books being published are run through the prize mills, and if they don’t get nominations or wins, the publishers abandon them, and the morons who run the chain bookstores, people who have expertise in marketing are people who don’t read, and so don’t order them. Meanwhile, the books that win prizes nearly all disappear within a few years, because they’re conventional and mediocre. This is, by the way, more true in Canada than in any country in the English-speaking world, and it’s become utterly toxic. We need to worry less about prizes and more about the stupidization of the public realm that this is part of.

12. Philip Marchand once stated, “Not even the most fervent partisans of Canadian literature will say that Canadians have done fundamentally new things with the novel form, or changed the way we read in the manner, say, of a Joyce, a Kafka, a Nabokov, or a Garcia Marquez. Marchand is correct as far as *perceptions* go; Canadian writing is not considered formally or stylistically groundbreaking. However, is this in fact the case when one regards our de facto production? What examples can you think of (including your own work) which would suggest otherwise?

I know and respect Phil, but he does read with eye-flaps on, and with a fixation on the novel as a form of expression.  There’s lots of experimental Canadian writing.  I’m guessing you never saw Gender Wars: A Novel & Some Conversation about Sex and Gender: 1994, Somerville House. If you want radical with the novel form, that has it, in both content and graphic representation. But it didn’t succeed as “prize” fiction, because the critics didn’t know how classify it? Was it fiction? Yes, some of it was. Was it non-fiction, Yes, a lot of it was. What they couldn’t handle was that it was as crazy as it gets and travels at four times the speed of most novels. I also thought that Ondaatje’s Coming Through Slaughter, George Bowering’sBurning Water and later, Pinboy and Barbara Gowdy’s We So Seldom Look on Love were ground-breaking by any International standard. Phil’s beef is with the Jane Urquhart/later Ondaatje universe, along with every nominee/winner of the Giller since it began, of which his description is accurate. What he doesn’t say (even though he knows the truth) is that conventionality is what literary prize culture begets.

12. What are you working on now that you're excited about?



The Epic of Gilgamesh According to Enkidu, where the production issue is whether or not I can know enough to be able to finish it. I could finish it as conventional literature, but I'm just not a temple priest, and they’re the ones who wrote all the other versions of the epic. I’m trying to figure out what they didn’t say, which what Enkidu saw and thought, and what he knew about Gilgamesh.