Saturday, December 8, 2012


A story I wrote about Habit67 is in the first issue of Tightrope's literary magazine supplement thingy, The Acrobat. My story is the only story in it, but there are good poetries and reviews in it, too. And the website for it is weird and insect-related, which you might like. The Acrobats is the title of Mordecai Richler's first novel. Just, you know, FYI. Oh, a story I wrote got third place in the Glimmer Train fiction open contest. Also, just, fyi.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Pilot Book

Probably too soon to announce this, but I'm rogue like that. My story, "More Vital Than Air," about Jewish things and an astronaut and Ms. Ukraine, got picked up by one of my favourite literary publications in the whole country, the Pilot Pocket Book. You're probably wondering why this thing is so amazing. Aside from being a sassy little thing you can keep in your back pocket, you mean? Peep the mission statement! Go on, I say! Peep!
Pilot Illustrated Literary Magazine is a Toronto-based periodical with a mandate to print primarily new storytellers, poets, and artists from Canada and beyond. Pilot has an expressly aesthetic approach. Each story and poem is illustrated by professional artists and illustrators. Each volume includes portfolio pieces from our contributors in beautifully rendered black and white. Pilot is more than just a publisher. It is Pilot’s contention that the work of artists and writers improves when supported by a strong community. We feel that you will enjoy the Pilot Portrait Pages, which replaces the traditional bio section with well-crafted written and pictorial portraits.
I'm hoping this portrait thing will make my bust look bigger. All for now. -a

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

From the reading.

Me at the reading last night, saying something about the C word that isn't cancer.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Reading: FHP Launch Party

I'll be doing a reading this Monday at The Peacock, where my friend Katie Jordan will be launching her debut collection of poetry. Rumour has it I'll be the only fiction reader there. Anyway, the details live on facebook: FHP Launch Party: Commentary on a Non-Existent Self-Portrait Deets:
Come celebrate the launch of Katie Jordon's debut chapbook with Frog Hollow Press, Commentary on a Non-Existent Self-Portrait. Cover art and illustrations by Hayden Menzies. The evening will be hosted by The Peacok at 365 King West (basement). Doors at 7:30pm. Readings by Claire Caldwell, Andrew MacDonald, Sarah Pinder and Katie Jordon at 8:30pm. Limited copies will be available for purchase. They can also be ordered through the press. Free snacks and $4.50 bar rail. Hope to see you there!
I don`t like readings all that much, but every so often I say yes and do them. So. Get it while it`s hot. It being listening to me read something.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

In which I reread Breakfast of Champions and think about it

The other day I decided I would go back and read some of my favourite books. I don't reread books very often; sometimes I just reread passages, so I can copy a particular style or get inspired. With whole books, though, I'm more interested in reading something new, so can learn something new. A conversation on television got me thinking: if I read a book that I enjoyed when I was younger, would I still enjoy it right now? The conversation on television was about Kurt Vonnegut Jr. One half of the conversation, someone a few years older than me, said that Kurt Vonnegut is a young man's writer. "You can only possibly like him when you're young. There's a certain point after that where he seems juvenile. You can still enjoy him, but in a nostalgic kind of way." The other half of the conversation didn't add much. I read a lot of Vonnegut growing up, even before I started writing. I wondered if the man on television was right. I started rereading Breakfast of Champions to find out. The book is about Vonnegut's sci-fi writer Kilgore Trout and Dwayne Hoover, a rich man who believes he's a machine. Hoover reads a book by Kilgore Trout and goes nuts. The book's narrator is also a character in the story; in fact, the book's narrator has actually invented all the characters in the book and the books circumstances, only his control is vague and incomplete. The novel is filled with little sketches and Vonnegut's trademark language. It sounds like it's written for someone who hasn't done a lot of reading. Anyway, I should say that I don't go much for the postmodern stuff, especially these days. I don't like experimentation all that much, either. With the caveat that I know I'm making a broad generalization, it seems to me that a lot of experimental writing is written by a lot of lazy writers who denigrate things they secretly know they can't do well, like telling a story people want to read. There are obviously exceptions to that. Breakfast of Champions is an exception. Somehow, I like it just as much as I had eight years ago, when I first read it. A good piece of art lingers, and I have a feeling that BOC is going to linger with me even more now that I understand how slyly complicated it is. It's about death, and about the absurdity of life, a subject it shares with three other novels that I really like and will probably reread (Catch-22, The World According to Garp, and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. The thing about Vonnegut's best writing is that his unconventional form never overshadows the base humanity of his characters. Maybe I'm being too hard on experimental writing. Nicole Krauss's The History of Love, to use a contemporary example, has been called experimental. I would argue that Krauss shares with Vonnegut a concern with human beings, with breaking their hearts. And Breakfast of Champions is heartbreaking, in its own way. It makes me think about bad things that have happened to me and the people that I love, in a way that makes me laugh and be okay with laughing. I think that's a rare thing.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Many Things

It's been too long, I think. But I always say that. What have I been up to? Working a lot on this novel, which is the last I'll say about that, plus stories, plus, you know, what I do in real life, which is teach high school and freelance as a content development consultant. That's a real thing that's close to technical writing. There, see? We've been dating for so long that I thought it was time for you to get to know me a little better. Since I usually only post here when I have news about my writing, I guess I'll have to share news about my writing. First, and sadly, Other Voices, the Alberta-based journal who accepted my story about old people, is closing its doors FOREVER, which means my poor story has no home. If you want to buy it from me, I can sell it to you. I think you'll like it, but then, it's tough to account for taste. I'm not sure I have good taste, either. Anyway. News number two is that The Windsor Review, who I never thought would publish me because Alistair Macleod was their fiction editor and I think he would really hate what I write, has picked up a short story of mine for their Best Under 35 issue. That sounds really impressive, right? Then, when you think about it, what it actually means is that they cut the submission pool drastically. Still. Sounds nice.
The story is called "Blindspots" and it's about a relationship between two people trying to have a baby, and the man has no functional sperm, so they need to go the way of artificial insemination. So good stuff. I should also mention that Spencer Gordon has some poems in it, even though he didn't mention I was in the issue too on his blog. He's great and I'm happy to be in there with him. Poet Mat Laport is also in it, but he doesn't have a web presence so I can't link you to him. He's also good. There's going to be a video of us reading eventually, so you'll be able to see me move and talk and be animate, instead of the faceless presence I am on this blog. Good! Good. Oh, and the latest issue of Riddle Fence is out and has a story of mine in it. Double-Oh is that I read the most recent volume of The Journey Prize Stories. They selected one of my stories awhile ago for their 22nd incarnation, and it was / is / remains an incredible honor. Anyway, in number 23, you should read two stories: Seyward Goodhand's "Fur Trader's Daughter," which only lives in print, and Michelle Winters' story "Toupee." It lives online here. Okay, that's all, that's it for now. Back to writing financial education manuals for me. xo

Friday, January 27, 2012

Riddle Me This

Well hello there. Some little bits of news to report. First, old standby "Eat Fist!", a well-travelled short story that originally appeared in Event, has been scooped up by the Body Electric anthology, put out by and/or Publishing. Nifty! More recently, Riddle Fence, a great great journal from out east, scooped up my short story, "Up, Away, Here, Gone," for their March 2012 issue. How do I know RF is great? They published Andrew Sullivan's slick short story, "Stray Dogs." So. Good stuff.

Not good? I missed my flight to Tampa today by not showing up early enough, and by having a disgusting passport. I had to switch my flight to an 8pm (later delayed to 10pm) shitshow to Orlando. My ride back to Tampa probably wants me dead. So does my bank account. The switch cost me $230 extra.

On the brightside, I wrote 5,000 words as punishment. And watched four episodes of Jersey Shore (spoiler: Vinny peaces out). Oh, and I started reading John Irving's new novel about a bisexual dude! I scammed an ARC. I sort of wish he would stop writing about sex with older women and characters who are writers.

Anyway. I'll be dressing like a pirate this weekend, as per Tampa's pirate festival. Good day.