I know what you’re thinking…

A book that lovingly portrays the real, true, official and unflinchingly authentic story of Claude Garamond, the father of the Garamond font

Hello. How are you? I know. I know. You’re probably wondering — along with about a billion people across the planet (not including the Chinese. For some reason, I’m BIG in China — Huge) — what this new book, “This is All a Lie” is all about. Is it a normal sort of narrative? Is it something my wife would like, because you know, she only reads John Grisham? Is it something my wee grannie would enjoy, because you know, she’s not so big on the cussing? Well, sadly, there are no lawyers in the book. And there is a wee bit of cussing, but it’s appropriate cussing. It’s a novel about the dangers of losing intimacy — in all its forms. And, the book is written backwards, at least structurally. It’s self-conscious. It digresses wildly. And it spans hundreds of years of human history. You’re probably thinking — what the fuck kind of an idiot would write a book that runs backwards — a book that starts on page 341 and moves to page 1? A book that starts with an ‘epilogue’ and a ‘note on the font’ and ‘the acknowledgements’? A book that lovingly portrays the real, true, official and unflinchingly authentic story of Claude Garamond, the father of the Garamond font?!?! You’d think the author would have learned his lesson about pushing the edges of literature, about playing around with experimental points of view. But no. Oh no. He’s jumped right it to the “metafiction” pool with a highly accessible and brilliantly heartbreaking love story. Now, you’re probably salivating, pining to get your hands on a copy of this book. The thought of it keeps you up at night, because you’re the type of person who likes to be delighted, and “This is All a Lie” is delightful. Soon…It will be coming soon.

118 (ONE-hundred-AND-eighteen)!!

 

Yup. 118 days until “This is All a Lie.” It’s a fine “fall” book, a book to sit with in the diminished light, with a glass of something robust — like whisky, or thick red wine, or strong tea. Leave your white wine, or your beer, or coolers behind. Start a fire in the pit out back. Throw on some old clothes — maybe that ratty sweater your wife keeps threatening to chuck, and grab the new book by Thomas Trofimuk and your beverage of choice, and settle in to read. Maybe you’ll listen to music as you read — Aster Piazzolla’s Five Tangos with the Kronos Quartet would work — so would Keith Jarrett’s Köln Concert. But first you must live through the summer, with all her temptations and delights. Don’t worry, the publisher is printing a good number of books. There will be plenty of books.

 

Schrödinger’s woman

My wife tells me it’s because when a woman wears heels they’re tilted forward, and the thing the woman in my riff below does with her foot, is to bend the foot the other way…it’s a salve. Okay. This is what my wife tells me, and I guess she ought to know — being a woman who has worn high heels.

Schrödinger’s woman

It’s raining and normally, you love the rain, would focus on the rain, write about the rain, show your love for the rain, but today the woman across the café is doing this thing with her foot – she lifts her toes so just the narrow spike of her heel is pricked into the floor – then places it down. These shoes are six-inch, flower-patterned high heels. You know they are six inches because you live with a woman who has a shoe fetish. The woman across the café seems to be deep in thought, as if she is focused on something important that resides on her laptop. Of course, the world resides on her laptop, on all laptops. So she could be working on her new novel, which is set in Japan and involves a husband and wife, and an unhappy cat who live near the Zenpuku-ji Buddhist Temple in the Yamada district. So far, nothing has happened between the husband and the wife and the unhappy cat, but the woman writes with the confidence that something will eventually happen. Or she could be working on a poem about the rain – how it is falling with a hesitant insecurity, as if it’s not sure about falling – about how wet it is, about how wet is makes the streets, about the heady scent that follows. You notice she is doing that thing with her foot again. It’s a tick – at least, you think it’s probably a tick – an unconscious sign that she’s thinking hard. You might wonder if she’s playing with your perception. Does she know you are watching her? Is she purposely presenting the image of a thoughtful person? Is she Schrödinger’s woman – a woman in a café who is consciously attractive and unconsciously alluring, simultaneously? Is she a woman who is aware she is being watched and at the same time, unaware, oblivious and indifferent? But she is not in a box with a decaying isotope and a vial of poison – she is alive and well, unconsciously doing that thing with her foot. She is just pretty woman working on a book about two people and an unhappy in the mountains of Japan, distracting you from the rain.

On making mistakes in the sorbets

Sometimes, when I cook the sorbets up, I am rushed, or distracted, or tired. And what results is a sorbet that might be pretty good, without all the mistakes. Yesterday was such a day. Three miscues in one small piece — two neglected words and one word that should not have been there. Sigh…So I am re-posting here as a sort of balm to my stupidity. Here is the corrected version of “the leaf”:

The leaf

Imagine this: In his journal, there are leaves – a collection of golden poplar leaves from the side of a mountain in the fall, pressed between the back pages. Today, after he finishes his glass of wine and pays, he leaves a leaf – one soft-yellow leaf on the brown wooden tabletop, a gift for the waitress. Because it’s Thursday. Or because it felt right. Or because flipping through his journal, the yellow surprised him. He does not know why he picked the leaves off the ground on the side of the mountain. Maybe to remember the cool, clear air of that morning, or the quiet spring in his legs, or the simple happiness of that moment. Perhaps it is just something he has always done.

The waitress might think the leaf is an accident – that it fell from her customer’s notebooks – he always has notebooks – and he didn’t notice. Maybe she will have no doubt of her customer’s intention – she will smile as she takes possession of it, as she picks it gently from the table. Perhaps she needed some sort of eloquent whimsy at that moment. Because last night as she visited her mother, now 94-years and in a home, she realized her mom had no idea who her daughter was – and the sadness of this realization sits heavy on her heart. The leaf was unrequired and strange and the waitress, whose name is Enid, saw its faded yellow as something akin to love, as something irrefutably kind. This leaf was a gift of beauty with no strings. As she tucks the leaf into her journal, she realizes this is exactly what she must do with her love. The leaf reminded her that so long as she kept telling her mother she was loved – that she loved her, nothing else mattered.

Instructions for jumping

Good morning. It is Thursday. The Lake Geneva book, set in Switzerland (for the most-part) now called “Instructions for Jumping From a Speeding Train,” on the market. If you are a publisher, call me!!! If you sleep with a publisher, call me!

And, I continue to work on the Elephant book, which is set in Prague (for the most part). A question I often ask myself is, Why don’t you write about where you live? My answer is, I’m slowly working up to it. Places become only minor characters for me, unless it’s the mountains. The Columbus book had to be set in Spain. The Instructions for Jumping book had to be set in Switzerland. Doubting Yourself to the Bone had to be Field, BC. The 52nd Poem, was all mountains with a little Edmonton. This is All a Lie (COMING TO A BOOKSTORE NEAR YOU IN THE FALL 2017!!!) is nowhere — it’s a city with tall buildings. Anyway, I am aware of setting. It’s just, I am never limited by the fact I haven’t been to a place.

This image of a balancing elephant, just because it made me smile.

Here’s last week’s sorbet, for your reading pleasure…(for the record, I write a piece about losing touch with poetry and make poetry into a real, farting woman, and two subscribers unsubscribed. Sigh)

Poetry leaves me

There is no poetry in me and I do not find this disturbing. Not really. It’s fine that poetry has taken its leave of me. I wake up as she rolls carefully, quietly, stealthily out of bed at 4 a.m. and tiptoes across the floor. I hear the door to the bathroom, and the toilet flush. I hear her pass gas – as she always does, and immediately think of the poet Charles Bukowski, and how he would love that about her.

It’s not as if I wasn’t expecting her to leave. I have been working on novels, in which narratives are stretched long over hundreds of pages and words are luxurious and have time to arrive. Urgency in a novel is not the same as urgency in a poem. Where poems are frantic to communicate, and will stab you in the eye with a salad fork if you’re not careful, a novel will hesitate, breathe, look around – before attacking. A poem gets pissed off and throws a full glass of wine at your head. A novel will make love with you, give you what you need, then cut you with a whispered line, in dim light, in a foreign country.

It’s no wonder Poetry has left me – I wasn’t paying attention to her and a poem with a body like that – all full-bodied and tall and fecund, needs attention. She needs to be touched, caressed and kissed into being.

I listen as she moves down the hallway, then the stairs – that fourth step always creaks. (You’d think a poem of her calibre would remember such things). I consider the idea that maybe it was me who left her. I stopped moving through the world with her in mind. I stopped seeing the world, smelling it, feeling it – with her eyes, and nose, and hands.

I hear the front door open, and close, and I know I cannot be without her. I need her in my life. I move across the bed to where she was, feel her warmth, smell her perfume and her sweat. I listen to nothing moving in the house, close my eyes and yearn myself to sleep.

The quandary of naming

Sometimes titles of books can trip you up. Right now, I have thrown out “Seven Moments” and the flood gates have opened. As I do this last edit, the title has shifted from “The woman in Lake Geneva,” to “Falling into Lake Geneva,” to today’s title, “Instructions for leaping into Lake Geneva.” It’s not really “instructions,” Not really, but the leaping is a consequence of everything that comes before, so it’s not too much of a stretch.

In the meantime, I continue to edit the last set of revisions, and it is a brilliant book. A dark journey of unresolved damage. Hell, I could call it “Damaged.” Maybe that will be its title tomorrow. See what I mean about struggling to find the title that says what the book is?’

Does this work? I don’t know.

.

 

Writer on the runway!!! MAYDAY!!!

I am going to model for the delightful Stanley Carroll this Thursday, March 23, as part of  Western Canada Fashion Week, at the Transalta Arts Barns, in Edmonton. I cannot promise that I won’t do a Carrie Bradshaw and face-plant on the runway, but the likelihood of this happening is small, as I will not be wearing heels (I hope). So, if you are so inclined, if you enjoy fashion shows, all the info is here. I wrote a blurb for the new book into my bio, so yes, I will whore for my books, because I love them and believe in them… Yes, this makes me nervous.

On the writing front, I am pushing ahead with “the Elephant on the Charles Bridge” novel. I do not know what happens on the bridge but I am learning about all the characters who will be there. I am growing to love them.

 

This is All a Lie, covered!!!

The cover for the new book got released today, by my publisher…and it is delightful, mysterious, and beautiful. In the meantime, I am two books ahead, working on “The Elephant on the Charles Bridge,” and waiting to hear about “Seven Moments,” which is with my agent. I liken the “Elephant” book to a Coen brothers’ film, with the prevailing question of “What the fuck is happening?” and the confused utterance of “I don’t understand,” as the backbones of the book. It’s a book about trying to interpret the meaning of a world with no meaning. So, a comedy. Ha!!! Really, I’m just starting the dream of it.

“This is All a Lie” is set for a fall 2017 release, so long as Donald Trumpy doesn’t start a goddamned war to distract us from his utter moronic incompetence.

 

The Sorbets

Every week for the past too many years to say, I have worked on and sent out this thing called a sorbet. It’s a piece of raw writing — meaning, it’s not as polished as it ought to be, sometimes only days old, and occasionally, only created hours before it’s send out. These sorbets, which can be poems, chunks of fiction, or happily nesting in between poetry and fiction, are exercise for me — they force me to look at the world with poet’s eyes at least once a week. Creating them, keeps me grounded in what’s important — writing, making story, reflecting the world through story. Honestly, sometimes the sorbets are brilliant little gems, other times, not so much. I try not to judge, as they are meant to be a curious break between the work-week and the weekend. They started small, with a dozen people (family and friends). Today, the list is hundreds. There have been times in the past few years, when I’ve felt discouraged about the sorbets, and wanted to walk away but I’ve come back to the joy of them and today, they are a delightful thing in my life. This is not really an ad for the sorbets; it’s more an explanation, a restatement (for myself?). Easy to sign up, if you want, on the “contact” page. Anyway, today, I offer up this week’s sorbet (which went out on Thursday) for your reading pleasure:

Carnal knowledge of the Oprah

Last week I dreamed I was intimate with Oprah – curled
inside a timid, fleshy embrace – which is weirder than it seems,
because I have never liked Oprah. I have never understood
her appeal. But then I am not her audience so perhaps this
is fine. But why would my subconscious put me there,
all compromised and vulnerable and carnal? What is it that
Oprah wanted me to know?

So, I woke up and knew Oprah’s body. I knew it well.
Some dreams you can’t un-dream, I know, but this
is not one of those. It was a delightful dream, as Oprah
is beautiful inside and out. Every nook and cranny of her
is beautiful. Every fold. Every curve. If I were still in therapy
I know my therapist – a dyed-in-the-wool Jungian who always wore
black pumps, would have had a field day with this dream.

She might have said something like – “Well, everyone
and everything in your dreams is you.” And I would have smiled
and said – “I’m Oprah?” At this point, she would lean forward
and sigh and I would be tempted to say something like – “I want
to help people? I want to give away cars? I want to be famous and
wealthy?” “Is that what Oprah is to you?” “No. I admire her curiosity
and the way she seeks grace,” I will say. And the therapist might nod.

Maybe the Oprah in my dream was trying to tell me
I need to listen better, because my Oprah was completely silent.
Could it be that simple? Be a better listener? I mean, she just looked at me
with her questioning dark eyes. She didn’t say a thing, not one word,
as if she had dreamed herself into my dream and her subconscious
would not let her do the thing she knows best. As if she was as
baffled by me, as I was by her.

1 a.m. at the Bistro, with Marc Chagall

“I want to write novels like Chagall paintings – filled with desire and fleeting naked women, dark whimsy, dreams entertained, violin-eating horses and unexpected birds – and such frail, bold, impossible colour – but mostly, bursting with desire and longing.”

Imagine this: You are sitting in the Bistro P. having a glass of red. You are at one of the wooden tables along the wall. You look around. There are perhaps a dozen people left and they are all sitting at wooden tables. You smile. All the tables are wooden. Perhaps, it is after midnight. You’re not sure what time it is. You’re alone at the Bistro. You are often alone at the Bistro.

Marc Chagall comes in and sits at your table, across from you. Inexplicably, even though you have never seen his picture, you know who he is.

“This is a fine establishment,” he says. “It’s warm, and the light is gentle but bright enough to read. And the sound is a din but it is not obtrusive. It is how a café ought to sound.”

You might introduce yourself.

“Are you Russian?” Chagall says.

“I don’t know,” you say.

“Shouldn’t you know where your people come from?”

“I don’t know.”

“Find out about you people,” he says.

He orders a bottle of expensive French wine and you wonder who’s going to pay for it since Chagall died in 1985.

“I dreamed a red horse with a crown of thorns on its head was watching my wife and I make love,” he says “We were inside a massive church but there were stars floating in the air. We were standing in a corner, far away from everything, but the horse could see us.”

Outside, it begins to snow, the flakes drifting past the window, playing in the thin street light. Chagall is intrigued. He shifts his chair so he can see better. “To paint snow and get it right is very difficult,” he says. “I have tried and failed, but now I will paint Adam and Eve in the snow. Do you have a pencil – something so that I can sketch?”

You hand him your Waterman fountain pen – the one you can’t seem to lose.

Chagall removes the cap and starts to sketch on a paper napkin. When one napkin is filled, the waiter, who has been watching, brings a small stack of napkins to the table and soon Chagall has covered half the table. He crosses the border between conscious and subconscious as if it does not exist. The last thing he draws is a soaring office tower with wings. He moves the napkin with the naked couple enfolded in each other’s arms to the bottom right-hand corner, as if they are a less-important afterthought. You stand up and look at the sketch of what will be a painting. Chagall, who is ninety, asks you to help him up onto his chair. He stands on the chair and looks down at the table. “Yes,” he says. “Adam and Eve, in the snow. They have already been expelled from the garden and they are cold because they are without their old friend, God. See how Eve hugs herself? And the snow? The snowflakes are like stars.”

You help him down from the chair, he orders another bottle of wine, and you don’t care. The waiter pours the wine and you sit with Chagall and watch the falling snow, which is, of course, filled with starlight. At around 2:30 a.m., a red donkey walks down the middle of the street and you both watch it without flinching, or saying a word.