short stories

What Have You Done?

A new story is out in the world and it’s always the best feeling. “What Have You Done?” is part of the Spring 2016 issue of The Puritan.

Puritan

Keith’s Gum

The first week of school, we dressed in our summer clothes and the teachers kept all of the windows open. An easygoing feeling prevailed thanks to the spillover of hot August weather. We laughed easier, lunched on depanneur junk food, and went to class casually late—close enough to the bell that we avoided trouble for the most part, but long enough after its ringing to feel a slight measure of freedom, of power. While the weather had something to do with it, I think the main reason for the blithe mood was the fact that we were older, finally starting our last year of high school. On the Friday night, we capped off that first week of school by going to see Aliens.

Continue reading “What Have You Done” in The Puritan

Merry du Terminus

I’m very happy to have a story in the new issue of carte blanche. That “Merry du Terminus” exists as a story is thanks in large part to a submission deadline, of which carte blanche has two per year. For me, a submission deadline is a great motivator. It moves me to
finish things. I love deadlines, I need deadlines. Bring them on.

Prior to being moved to action by this particular cutoff , “Merry du Terminus” existed for about a year as a single paragraph and a vague note about how the story might finish in a file on my computer called “Terminus.” (If you read the story, it’s the paragraph that begins “His Adam and the Ants records clinched it,” or at least an earlier version of it.) The story also lived inside my head the whole time, marinating I guess, popping in and out of view on a regular basis, until a submission deadline got close enough for me to fill in the rest on paper. The great thing about finishing is that the story doesn’t live in my head anymore. It’s gone and I don’t miss it. There are all these other fragments, single paragraphs, and titles waiting for their own deadlines, real or (the way it should be) self-imposed. I’ve also got the phone number of a defunct pizzeria on Monkland Avenue in there but I haven’t figured out a way to get rid of it and I don’t know that I’d want to anyway.

Merry du Terminus

Out of Nowhere

Montreal writer Teri Vlassopoulos’s debut story collection Bats or Swallows was shortlisted last week for the Danuta Gleed Literary Award. This is an awesome book, and I say so in a much wordier manner in my review in The Rover from the weekend:

“I learned early on that things don’t come out of nowhere,” says the narrator in “Baby Teeth,” one of eleven stories in Teri Vlassopoulos’s Bats or Swallows. “There is always a buildup.”

With such an exceptional debut collection, Vlassopoulos may herself appear to have come out of nowhere. Her own buildup, however, can be found in over a decade of zine writing, a training ground that has served her well.

There’s a mesmeric quality to Vlassopoulos’s storytelling. Her writing is warm, uncomplicated, and beguilingly intimate. She produces crisp sentences that are economical in words and generous in personality. 

Full review here.

Holipocalypse

As the holidays approach, I find myself staring out the window at the blanket of white snow covering my back yard, thinking about the good times. Like Christmas 1989,  the year the toaster caught on fire and my mother put it out (rather ingeniously) by throwing it out the window, onto a blanket of snow covering that back yard. The toaster remained out there the rest of the winter, a charred reminder of its incompatibility with bacon.

A thoughtful gift

Available for $3.50 from better automatic distributor machines.

I think of Christmases 1991, 1992, and 1993, when my brother gave me giant-sized Mr. Big chocolate bars as presents. It was pretty funny the second year. In 1996, I got a job as a courier. That Christmas, my brother proudly presented his gift to me, a small and strangely soft package wrapped in newspaper, upon which he had scrawled, “For your truck.” It was a rectangular-shaped, single-serving apple pie in a transparent plastic wrapper. I did, indeed, save it for in the truck and, for about five minutes, it eased the pain.

And so, as we steel ourselves for yet another round of family get-togethers and ever bolder toaster experiments, I offer up my newest and, I believe, only holiday story, “Apocalypse, As Viewed from the Family Room.” Granted, this one takes place at Thanksgiving, but Christmas is very much lurking in the background, threatening all with Christmassy inevitability. It appears over at the fantastic joyland.ca, where you’ll find an abundance of awesome short fiction. Which, should a distributor machine apple pie be waiting for you under the tree, might be the best gift of all this year.