All posts by keithManager

Net Worth Reviewed on Montreal Rampage

MONTREAL NOW: SHOW ME THE MONEY

Net Worth

The recent book fair held on November 24-25, sponsored by the QWF (Quebec Writers’ Federation), took place in the Atrium of Concordia University’s McConnell Building.  In attendance were all of Montreal’s major English language publishers, affirming that Montreal’s Anglo literary scene is still alive, well, and kicking.  In addition to a fiction and poetry presentation moderated by Montreal writers Kenneth Radu and Harold Hoefle, among others, publishers were there to display and sell their wares.

As I managed to attend on both days, it was an opportunity to purchase new books, meet established and emerging writers, and to rekindle and form new friendships.  The highlight of my weekend was meeting up with Keith Henderson, managing editor of DC Books, an old friend from our days together as teachers at Vanier College, and meeting and getting to know Kenneth Radu, who is fiction editor for that press. I managed to score signed copies of both of their collection of stories:  Henderson’s The Pagan Nuptials of Julia and Radu’s latest, Net Worth. My week’s reading was now complete. Operating within a word limit, I can only do justice to what will surely amount to an incomplete review of one of them, so I have chosen to take on Radu’s collection first.  On Henderson’s work, more to follow.

At the front and centre of Radu’s Net Worth is money:  how we deal with it, covet it, miss it when we don’t have enough, and how it consumes so much of our lives.  Who would think this is the stuff of literature, but through Radu’s deft prose, it becomes a symbol of our most profound emotions ranging from joy to despair. The first story in the collection, “Lottery,” chronicles a day in the life of a woman in her early middle age, Annie, who has discovered that she has won the lotto jackpot of $42 million. Her initial surprise and happiness quickly dissipate, alternating between perplexity (how to spend the money), obligation (how to fairly dispose of it and how to manage it) and paranoia (how to secure her own safety now that she is so wealthy).  The story creates a genuine sense of discomfort as Radu catalogues every possible scenario one could imagine about instant wealth.  But the story doesn’t end there.  Instead, Radu takes a gigantic literary leap and transforms the tale into an allegory about personal happiness.  After meditation on her “good fortune,” Annie reflects on her life and what makes her happy, coming to the inevitable conclusion that money won’t.  Thus, she decides to dispose of the ticket, but in a way that is hilarious, shocking (so much so that the reader cringes, wondering how anyone could do this), yet redemptive.  Radu’s ending is wonderfully original.

“Trust Fund” tells of a woman who discovers her husband’s secreted fortune in the basement after his death and how she arrives at a wrenching epiphany about their marriage and life as a couple.  Yet another, “Personal Injury,” presents the ironically parallel stories about a woman who has just lost her job and the beggar to whom she has given some money as she is late for work, the very cause of her dismissal.  “NetWorth,” the title story of this collection examines the tragic life of a single father who is desperately seeking work in recession times to support his child, yet whose self-worth is tested by the inhumanity of our capitalist system.  “Residential Requirements” is the story of a factotum, Darryl, who works in a nursing home and exploits the elderly for their money, including providing quasi-sexual favors.  This is the “edgiest” story in the collection, cringe-worthy in its dissection of the protagonist’s deceit, ye tRadu manages to make him a compelling character despite Darryl’s low actions.

The best and most “literary” story  in this fine collection is the last one, “Keats Walk,” a tale of an older man who has lost his wife and who is on a journey toward death as he travels to England and traverses “Jane Austen country,” walking along the same paths that the Romantic poet John Keats would stroll while conceiving his ballads, sonnets, and odes—  Keats who died in his 26th year  and who wrote some of the most profound odes to mortality and love ever penned.  In this complex and multi-layered story, Radu’s literary voice is transcendent as the story is simultaneously jarring in its directness, frank in its relentless examination of ageing and loneliness, all the while presenting the heart-wrenching pathos of ageing, all of this skillfully crafted without slipping into sentimentality.  Radu is able to convey great emotion in the muted thoughts of the protagonist as he reflects on his wife’s death (her) “still warm body clad in purple silk pajamas” almost absently remembering that “she had never liked flannel”.  Brilliant.  At the end of the story, after taking stock of his own life and preparing for his death, the “voice” changes into a poetic rendering as the story becomes a true “ode” to the tragedy of living, of love, and of loss.  This story belongs in any anthology of great Canadian writing.

Kenneth Radu told me recently that the goal of any writer is to create a connection with his reader, a connection of the mind and heart. As someone who has labored throughout his career at the “sullen art” of writing, he knows the loneliness of the human soul and dissects this in his prose with humor, irony, and bitterness, but, above all, with warmth and compassion.

He tells us that there is truly no price one can place on the soul and that our true “net worth” is so much more than a bank balance. For this timely reminder, we the readers should be grateful.  For any lover of good writing, Radu’s book is a must-read.

DC Books at the 2018 AELAQ Pop-Up Book Fair

The Association of English Language Editors of Quebec will hold a Book Fair Saturday Nov. 24 and Sunday Nov. 25, in the Atrium of the McConnell Building at Concordia University, 1400 de Maisonneuve West, metro Guy-Concordia.

Hours are: Saturday: 12-6 PM and Sunday: 12-6 PM.

A number of DC Books authors will be in attendance, ready to greet, chat, and sign great books! A selection of Railfare DC Books train books will also be on sale at substantial Christmas discounts.

Poet John Emil Vincent will be participating in Perforating the Screen of Language: Poets Out Loud, Sunday, Nov. 25, 3-4 p.m.

Novelist Kenneth Radu will be participating in Stories Speak: Writers on Fiction, Sunday, Nov. 25, 1-2 p.m.

Check out novelist Keith Henderson interview re. Sasquatch and the Green Sash, Wednesday, Nov. 28, 7:30 a.m., on CKUT Montreal

Lineup:

Saturday 12 – 3: poet Jason Camlot, author of Animal Library and Attention All Typewriters.

Saturday 12 – 3: poet John Emil Vincent whose Excitement Tax has been nominated for the Concordia First Book Award by the QWF.

John Emil Vincent, poet

Sunday 12 – 1: novelist Ken Radu, author of Earthbound, Butterfly In Amber, and the recently published collection of short stories, Net Worth

Novelist Kenneth Radu reading at the Montreal West Public Library from his recent DC publication “Net Worth”

Sunday 1 – 2: novelist Tom Abray, author of the short story collection, Pollen and the recently published novel, Where I Wanted To Be

Novelist Tom Abray reading at the Montreal West Public Library from his novel “Where I Wanted To Be”

Sunday 2 – 4: poet Greg Santos, author of Rabbit Punch! and The Emperor’s Sofa. Check out Poetry Pause – The League of Canadian Poets: http://poets.ca/2018/11/22/in-the-new-republic-of-poetry-by-greg-santos/

Poet Greg Santos together with Keith Henderson at last year’s Pop-Up Fair

Throughout the Fair: novelist Keith Henderson, author of Sasquatch and the Green Sash and Acqua Sacra

Sasquatch and the Green Sash

DC Books is pleased to announce the publication of Keith Henderson’s Sasquatch and the Green Sash, with illustrations by Steve Adams and Introduction by medievalist K.S. Whetter of Acadia University. Sasquatch and the Green Sash is a translation/Canadian adaptation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.

Gavin McHenry is a lonely, restless man. Even among the beautiful and bountiful yuletide merriment of his cousin Arthur LeMagne’s Christmas feast, the RCMP constable stands apart, brooding and regretful. Then a strange Sasquatch on a sled crashes the party and challenges him to a cruel game. A kind of duel, it will lead to other tests along the way as a year hence Gavin goes in search of the beast the Dene Nation call Nuk-luk.

Is the young constable just an old-fashioned Canadian adventurer or a retro Millennial adrenalin junkie? Gavin’s struggle for virtuous action and nobility of soul in a self-serving world of violent deceit and sexual treachery may be that of every man and woman alive today. In Sasquatch and the Green Sash, Keith Henderson’s narrator presents a scarily enchanting and thrilling tale of two determined, duty-bound adversaries. Gavin’s struggle is ours, and something to savour for sure…but maybe not too sweetly?

One thing clear through all the snow and ice and race to win is what some will risk to gain or lose, be it love or fame through sin and dishonour in the perilous Arctic mountains of Canada’s mystical north.

Sasquatch and the Green Sash by Keith Henderson (Introduction by Prof. K.S. Whetter, Acadia), ISBN 978-1-927599-40-2 is available in hardcover for $29.95 at fine book stores across Canada and into the United States, directly from DC Books, via amazon.com, amazon.ca, 49th Shelf, or Fitzhenry & Whiteside.

“Henderson retells a powerful tale with dignity and grace, successfully transplanting a poem rooted in the mediaeval Arthurian past into a particularly Canadian mythos.”

– K. S. WHETTER, Acadia University INTRODUCTION, SASQUATCH AND THE GREEN SASH

Net Worth a “wonderful exploration into what money does to us all.”

“Several of the stories in Net Worth are very effective. The first one in the book, ‘Lottery,’ is about a woman, Annie, who wins $42 million from Loto-Québec. But she has reservations. What would it do to her life? Is all that money worth it? Radu gets into Annie’s doubts and confusion very well, dissecting the virtues and pitfalls of sudden wealth, how it seeps into to every aspect of your life, your behaviour, your relationships.

All the stories are thought-provoking and reflective, each in its own way, using money as a vehicle to explore such diverse subjects as a spouse’s early death, old age, leaving an inheritance, waiting for an inheritance, divorce, and coming early into the personal independence of adulthood. The varied meanings of having, keeping, and losing money come up frequently in each of these contexts.

….These stories are a wonderful exploration into what money does to us all.”

— The Ottawa Review of Books, September 2018

Net Worth – Library of Pacific Tranquillity Review

DCB_Net-Worth1k-final-alt2.indd

“Net Worth by Kenneth Radu is certainly one of the most unique reads I have come across in the 2018 publishing season. The language is simple yet the concepts it brings forward are thought-provoking and enlightening. In short, this book is a great piece of literature.”

—Stephen Buechler, Library of Pacific Tranquillity, Fall 2018

See the full review at: https://pacifictranquility.wordpress.com/2018/09/03/learning-the-value-of-actions-review-of-net-worth-by-kenneth-radu-2018-dc-books/

DC Books Blue Met Spring Launch

Blue Met Spring Launch

Friday, April 27, 2018: 6:30 pm

Paragraphe Book Store, 2220 McGill College, Montreal

Featuring John Emil Vincent, Kenneth Radu, Fiorella Paris (Milan), Steve Luxton

Excitement Tax (poetry)

Net Worth (fiction)

Acqua Sacra (novel in Italian translation)

The Dying Meteorologist (upcoming poetry title)

together with Jason Camlot, Keith Henderson

Music by Susan Palmer & Laurence Beaudoin

***

From the Massachusetts Review

10 Questions for John Emil Vincent

I had too much computer. And a bad case of quaint.

Such as it was, time stood still and there I was with someone seemed half my age and less a quarter my hygiene. We walked to Emily Dickinson’s grave. We held hands; he said his fingers were empurpled from picking kale in deep frost. I found that twee. In an adorable way.

from “A crumbling infrastructure,” Winter 2017 (Vol. 58, Issue 4)

Tell us about one of the first pieces you wrote.
The first prose poems I wrote were in high school. I wrote this epic fantasia called “Bidet and the Giant Silver Rocking Horse.” It involved pretending to be on acid, which at the time I had not tried. The work was finding a way to open up and develop momentum, which is what I love best about prose poems. Snag on something, unravel the whole sweater. For me, this is the supremest form of fun.

What writer(s) or works have influenced the way you write now?
Marianne Moore is my biggest influence, I suspect. For sonorousness I like Nietzsche and Kafka. For intelligence, Plath. My friend Elizabeth Willis has this terrific book, Turneresque, which really impressed me with what prose poetry could do. That book set my present practice spinning.

What other professions have you worked in?
I trained to be an archivist, a job to which I am allergic. I was a lifeguard. I was a legal secretary. I think teaching is my favorite money-bearing activity and the one I’m best at.

What inspired you to write this piece?
“A crumbling infrastructure” was written about a time when I was newly single and newly 40 and living in the Pelham woods. There was this site, Manhunt, which around 2009 served the purpose of Grindr but also connected gay friends in the Pioneer Valley. Not having been single for most of my adult life, it was a revelation. Sex is, of course, rather terrifying. Other people are, however, completely interesting. “Goat boy” of the poem worked in a butterfly conservatory—what could be better than that? He was incredibly sweet and beautiful and really loved marijuana– also he had dreadlocks.  The spur of the poem was remembering how foggy everything looked through dread-musk smeared glasses. The idea of dread-musk.

Is there a city or place, real or imagined, that influences your writing?
Montreal is a central character in my first book EXCITEMENT TAX, while our emigrating from the US to Canada in 2011 is the plot. What more could a writer wish for than a city where language is everywhere activated and living, full of conflict and full of fun? And also where the people are very sexy and very well-dressed.

Do you have any rituals or traditions that you do in order to write?
I rely on an increasingly intricate system of notebooks. One by the bed, one on the desk, loose leaf for composing. I’ve also taken to using my phone, which I then have to transfer to paper to make it back into language.  I jot constantly (things I hear, things I think) and compose in the afternoon, when not feeling defeated by daily living.

The present poems are hewn from giant masses of prose. Kind of like sculpture. I write and write this id junk and then see what shapes are in it. Then carve. The carving is the work, the junk-spewing is the fun part.

Though I’m a little embarrassed by it, I like to have “Alex,” the computer voice, read my poems back to me over and over while I work on revisions.

Who typically gets the first read of your work?
My friends. My friend Marcie Frank is the first person I send a poem. My friend Meredith is usually the first person I read a poem to.  When things seem pretty together I like to borrow Thomas Devaney’s amazing eyes and ears.

If you could work in another art form what would it be?
Film.  Specifically shot-by-shot remakes of Doctor Strangelove.

What are you working on currently?
Working toward another collection of prose poems called The Playfulness of Skeletons, the Sadness of Bones.

Meanwhile I have an essay to finish on this cool little prose poem by Elizabeth Bishop about a cruisy gay toll-taker on the Bay Bridge.

I’m also discovering that having a first book is a lot of work. I’m not really good at any of it, nor natural to it. The idea of showing up at all is a bit uncomfortable. It’s kind of funny doing this first book thing at my age. Getting to feel that awkwardness, however, might be the best thing about it. I feel like I’m learning something about middle age that is actually nice to know. That I like a good awkwardness.

What are you reading right now?
Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds and The Flowers of Evil. Also really savoring my friend Gillian Sze’s book Panicle.

Italy-Canada Tour

Rome, Siena, Bologna, Tagliacozzo, Montreal

March 13th to 17th; April 6th & 27th, 2018
CONTACT: giuliana pendenza — DC Books communications
dcbookscanada@gmail.com         |       www.dcbooks.ca

Acqua Sacra

DC Books is proud to announce the Canada-Italy tour
of Acqua Sacra in Italian translation, Keith Henderson’s
novel on white collar crime in Abruzzo and in Quebec (Edizioni Kirke, Avezzano). In Italy the tour features the author, in Canada the author together with the translator, Fiorella Paris.

Schedule:

Preview on Monday 12th March, Interview with journalist Annalisa Coppolaro, Bar Caracas, Via Camollia 67, Siena

March 13th in Siena: Liceo G.Galilei, sponsored by
CanaDiana, Laura Failli

March 15th in Bologna: Centro Alfredo Rizzardi, Prof.
Carla Comellini

March 17th in Rome: Canadian Club of Rome Book
Club, Prof. Luigi Girolametto

April 6th in Tagliacozzo: Associazione Culturale Marsicana, Emanuele Nicolini

April 27th in Montreal: DC Books spring launch at the Blue Met, 6:30 pm – Paragraphe Book Store

“In Acqua Sacra we find ourselves in a somewhat uncomfortable position, work suspended in the house, a confrontation with the mother of the workers supposed to finish the job. But in exchange for prosecutorial immunity, Susanna becomes involved in a Canadian operation far beyond the scope of normalcy. Her unease about her situation is made clear in a precise psychological portrait Keith Henderson renders perfectly in a series of metaphors that act as a summary of Susanna Ricci’s self-assessment: her distaste for roller coasters, her vertigo at heights, her love of quiet, unhurried driving, her refusal to learn to ski. The final portions of the book intensify the shift toward crime novel. And here both the fantasy and reality of our times combine in situations that lend an entirely different and enriching flavour to so lively a book…. Truly a fine novel.”

— GIANFRANCO FORMICHETTI, City Councillor responsible for Cultural Matters, City of Rieti, Author of Vita di Antonio Vivaldi, Giunti Editore

Robert Edison Sandiford a non-fiction judge for the 2018 OCM Bocas Prize.

Robert Edison Sandiford is one of the non-fiction judges for the 2018 OCM Bocas Prize.

The NGC Bocas Lit Fest in Trinidad and Tobago administers the annual award, which recognizes the best books of poetry, fiction, and literary non-fiction published in English in the previous calendar year by a writer of Caribbean birth or citizenship living anywhere in the world. Entries are made by publishers, though judges may request other published titles for consideration.

The annual literary award, now open for entries, carries a cash prize of US$10,000 for the overall winner, with two prizes of US$3,000 for the category winners. These are sponsored by One Caribbean Media.

Every year, the prize has ten judges in all, distinguished writers, scholars and publishing professionals. There are three judges for each category, including a chair who will form part of the final judging panel of four persons, the fourth being the overall judge. For 2018, the head judge will be the Poet Laureate of Jamaica, Lorna Goodison.

The other two Bocas Prize non-fiction judges are Judy Raymond and Jeremy Taylor.

The reading period runs from November to February. The judges come up with a shortlist of three books and then the winner in each category.

The winning title in each category will be judged for the award of best title of the year, to be announced in April at the festival.

For more information on the award, please visit:

http://www.bocaslitfest.com/2017/awards/the-ocm-bocas-prize-for-caribbean-literature/