Showing posts from December, 2017

'Fiction as Method' brings authors into dialogue with artists, technologists, theorists and filmmakers in order to explore the diverse ways in which fiction manifests

Fiction as Method, Sternberg Press, 2017.

A Conference on Counterfactuals and Virtualities in Art and Culture
I am an artist, and therefore a liar. Distrust everything I say. I am telling the truth.  ~ Ursula LeGuin
It seems to me that I am walking about in my sleep, as though fiction and life were blended. ~ August Strindberg

When Thomas More’s Utopia was first published in 1516 it was taken so seriously by some members of the church that the possibility of sending missionaries to convert the godless population of the imaginary island was discussed. Even if no missionary set sail, the incident reveals how a fiction might have real and unexpected effects on a world it seemed to distance itself from.
Perhaps the effect most readily associated with fiction is a feeling of escape, a flight from this world into another. Yet beyond escapism, fictions are an operative part of everyday life, whether it be in the dark foundations of currencies and nations, or as the founding gesture of movement…

John McGreal - a tragic-comic account of a modern man who has sadly lost it altogether. Unsure of who or what it is that he has lost

John McGreal, Book of It, Matador, 2009.

The narrative of The Book of It is a tragic-comic account of a modern man who has sadly lost it altogether. Unsure of who or what it is that he has lost, in the company of an unforgettable cast of idiosyncratic characters with whom he shares many trials, he nevertheless undertakes a remarkable journey in search of it into the unknown realm of terra incognita.

Gordon Sheppard - A "documentary fiction", a seminal work that reinvents the audio-visual revolution of the last century. Interweaving photographs, documents, and images with testimonies

Gordon Sheppard, HA!: A Self-Murder Mystery, McGill-Queen's University Press, 2003.

On 15 March 1977, with his wife's consent, celebrated writer and former terrorist Hubert Aquin blew his brains out on the grounds of a Montreal convent school. Shocked by this self-murder, a filmmaker friend feels compelled to understand why Aquin killed himself - and discovers, at the heart of the tragedy, an unforgettable love story. A "documentary fiction" - a category which includes In Cold Blood and The Executioner's Song - HA! is a seminal work that reinvents the audio-visual revolution of the last century. Interweaving photographs, documents, and images with testimony from Aquin's friends and contemporaries, Aquin himself, and the writers and artists who influenced him, this intriguing novel takes the reader on a Joycean tour of a metropolis in the midst of political and cultural turmoil.

Why doesn't our prize-infested world offer an award for the quirkiest, thickes…

Lee Henderson - an oddly comic, often grotesque panorama of city life like something out of Bosch – or Pynchon

Lee Henderson, The Man Game, Penguin Canada, 2009.

On a recent Sunday afternoon in Vancouver, a young man stumbles upon a secret sport invented more than a century before, at the birth of his city. Thus begins The Man Game, Lee Henderson's epic tale of love, requited and not, that crosses the contemporary and historical in an extravagant, anarchistic retelling of the early days of a pioneer town on the edge of the known world. In 1886, out of the smouldering ashes of the great fire that destroyed much of the city, Molly Erwagen—former vaudeville performer—arrives from Toronto with her beloved husband, Samuel, to start a new life. Meanwhile, Litz and Pisk, two lumberjacks exiled after the fire and blamed for having started it, are trying to clear their names. Before long, they've teamed up with Molly to invent a new sport that will change the course of that fledgling city's history.

“In its ambition, iconoclasm, and accomplishment The Man Game is reminiscen…

Chris Eaton has created a novel based on his namesakes (and himself) found on the Internet

Chris Eaton, Chris Eaton, a Biography, Book Thug, 2013.

CHRIS EATON, A BIOGRAPHY is a novel that arises from the idea that we have all been driven, at some point, to Google ourselves. And if you did, what did you find? That there are people out there who seem to have something in common with you? Dates, places, interests? How coincidental are these connections? And what are the factors that define a human life? We are the sum of our stories: Anecdotal constructs. We remember moments in our pasts the way we remember television episodes. In pieces. And we realize that our own memories are no more valid in the construction of our identities than stories we've heard from others. CHRIS EATON, A BIOGRAPHY constructs a life by using, as building blocks, the lives of dozens of other people who share nothing more than a name, identities that blur into each other with the idea that, in the end, we all live the same life, deal with the same hopes and fears, experience the same joys and trage…

Donald Hall and Pat Corrington Wykes undertook the work of excerpting the most arresting, enlivening, depressing, odious and/or inexplicable stories from a vast array of texts on the lives and creative practices of modern artists

Donald Hall and Pat Corrington Wykes, Anecdotes of Modern Art: From Rousseau to Warhol, Oxford University Press, 1990.           

From the hilarity of Picasso's legendary banquet for Le Douanier Rousseau to the grotesque atmosphere of Andy Warhol's "Factory," Anecdotes of Modern Art moves through the modern era surveying the triumphs, miseries, and peculiarities of the world of art. Perhaps no epoch has witnessed more variety and experimentation than ours, with movements such as Expressionism, Cubism, and Surrealism radically reshaping the visual arts--and the artists connected with these revolutions are often as striking and occasionally as startling as the works they created. The anecdotes presented here--touching on almost 200 painters and sculptors--show what these artists were like, how they responded to the world, and how their work is a reflection of themselves.
Here is the fabled romantic life of Belle Epoch Paris, with Picasso and Braque ("Alm…

Héctor Abad Faciolince - a brilliant lesson in Colombian history, as it fluctuates between past, “nonexistent future, which is over for us or ending,” and “the present, the here and now, in these few moments of life left to us.”

Héctor Abad, The Farm, Trans. by Anne McLean, Archipelago, 2018.

Closely knit Colombian siblings' internal rifts threaten to tear apart the hard-won legacy their father fought to establish against guerilla and paramilitary violence. An intimate and transgressive novel that confirms Héctor Abad as one of the great writers of Latin American literature today.Pilar, Eva, and Antonio Ángel are the last heirs of La Oculta, a farm hidden in the mountains of Colombia. The land has survived several generations. It is the landscape of their happiest memories but it is also where they have had to face the siege of violence and terror, restlessness and flight.
In The Farm, Héctor Abad illuminates the vicissitudes of a family and of a people, as well as of the voices of these three siblings, recounting their loves, fears, desires, and hopes, all against a dazzling backdrop. We enter their lives at the moment when they are about to lose the paradise on which they built their dreams and their real…