Category Archives: Writing

Even the Stars are a Mess

They were years of frustration, endless eons of disappointment spliced with rare bursts of pleasure, like the sudden explosion of a present for his birthday, or the sight of horses hanging their long heads over a fence, all in a … Continue reading

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My Writing in my Writing

Although I never made note of it before, I noticed when I was editing my latest book—The View from Vancouver—that I had slipped in references to my other books. At first I made little of it, and presumed I was … Continue reading

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Nepotism and the Publishing Industry

The writing community industry is small enough in Canada that even someone like me, who is tangentially related to the literary world, can often see names I recognize in literary magazines. I also check which books are published by which … Continue reading

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Teaching Farley Mowat

Farley Mowat occupies a curious position in Canadian letters. He is a kind of Ernest Hemingway of the north, but in the academic world of English study, he is never dressed well enough to be invited to the party. Some … Continue reading

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Writing as a Logical Series of Steps

The inevitability of plot is one of the easiest aspects of writing. As a storyteller you shove a metal key into your characters, wind them up like a toy, and watch them perform series of proscribed motions. Many of the … Continue reading

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From The History of Planeville

For them, Amy was what their grandparents would have called a witch, and they imagined invisible tendrils of control, a delicate understanding of human desire and the torrid expectations of jealousy, a look which could pass information that language could … Continue reading

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Found Sentences: Our Past and Present Future

Usually the student sentences which stand out for me are more than merely comical. I am also less interested in those errors which some see as comic, especially in terms of laughing at the student’s expense. I am much more … Continue reading

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Found Sentences: The Environmental Movement and Going Back to Green

When Cousin Nick wanted to make a documentary about me he wasn’t that impressed when he interviewed my friend Mento Wong. Mento was a biker friend of mine who’d spent his life railing against conformity and worked as an operator … Continue reading

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Superman and Columbus as Heros

Stories of origin are where we get our ideas about good and evil, discover how we should conduct themselves in the world, and find out where we fit into our cultural lineage. That the United States celebrates Columbus Day despite … Continue reading

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Cultural Codes Case Study – Tom Waits’ “Small Change”

Much of the interpretative work that the reader is asked to do with this short text is in reference to their knowledge of cultural codes. One of the examples I continually return to when it comes to understanding cultural coding … Continue reading

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