Friday, September 27, 2013


Hi All,

So, another review from the Montreal Gazette. Take a read, if'n you please. My thanks to Ian McGillis for taking the time to read it and share his feelings about it.


And/or, you can read this profile by Martin Knelman of the Toronto Star. Martin is one of those old-school newspapermen who I've had the good fortune of stumbling across once or twice in my career, full of better stories than the ones I try to tell. So my thanks to him for the piece. The photo, taken at our home in Toronto, looks kind of vertiginous. Like maybe we like to hang our paintings off-kilter, which makes me look a little dizzy. Maybe this is even the case—who knows? Somebody needs to come over and tell me if all our paintings are hanging crooked-ass, and I'll try to fix it!


And finally, a story. It's called The Vanishing Twin, and it may (will, likely, but it's not totally my call; my editor has a big say in this) be included in the short story collection that will follow Cataract City at some point. This story was published in The Fiddlehead, UNB's journal. Thanks to Gerard Beirne (a wonderful writer, btw; check out his book TURTLE) at the Fiddlehead for putting the piece forward, and to The Center For Fiction for republishing it.

It's a long one, so if you're not a fan of reading longform stuff online, well, maybe you'll want to print it up? It's also a little nasty, so be warned.


All best, Craig.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Hullaballoo Regarding a Fellow Awards Nominee ...

Hi All,

Well, I woke up this morning to see quite a firestorm raging away on Facebook, Twitter, and elsewhere. I wasn't on the computer much at all yesterday, and with the time difference it meant I missed the exploding heart of the controversy and woke up today to sort through the shrapnel.

For those who aren't aware:


The question that some have asked in light of this is—will it dampen his chances at the Giller prize this year? Certainly there is an argument that a person's personal beliefs and fixations shouldn't be held against the work under contention ... but, people being people, jurors being jurors, awards bodies being awards bodies, there may be some blowback from this.

With that said, here are a few newspaper headlines I'd be interested to see over the next few weeks.

[dek] Noted writer discovered at site of fire, wild-eyed and frantic, screaming: "I hate orphans, always have and always will!"

Or how about:

[dek] Award-winning writer flies to South Africa on own dime, barges into to living saint Mandela's bedroom, screams in his face.

Or maybe:

[dek] Baker's dozen of shivering, leather-clad little people rescued from basement of respected writer Michael Winter's bucolic Newfoundland homestead.

How about some breathless tabloid-style headlines?






... anyway, you get the point. I'm just trying to improve my odds here, people! Surely you understand. So please, fellow nominees, do me a favor and be on your absolute worst behavior over the following weeks and days. You'd be totally doing me a solid and I'd not soon forget it.

All best, Craig.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Just a little heads-up for Canadian Amazon shoppers

Hi All,

For the edification of my fellow countrymen: there are two versions of Cataract City up on

This one:


... and this one:


If you want the book right now, you'll want that first option. The other one is a very early preorder for the US edition, which comes out next summer. I'm not sure why it's given as an option on the Canadian Amazon site, but hey, it happens.

I'm sure my Canadian publisher would prefer Canadians grab the version available right now; and I'd surmise that my American publisher would be happy to let that happen, too. And certainly Canadian readers, if they want the book, like, quickly, should go with the first option.

Just wanted to put it out there in case someone orders the US edition and then starts harassing the postal worker after a few weeks go by, grabbing them by the lapels and shaking and demanding their book. I mean, I do that regularly just to keep my postman on his toes, but I wouldn't want anyone else feeling the same need.

All best, Craig.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Buncha More Stuff ...

Hello All,

In Birmingham, safely esconsed, getting down to some serious writing. Missing my family for sure. May as well make this time work for me.

Things are coming a little more fast and furiously than normal, so I'm slamming a lot of content up on ye olde blog lately. So if you're a regular reader—ie: if you check every so often because updates were more sporadic—you may want to scroll down and see what you've missed.

Today, we've got three items.


2. An interview/essay by Daemon Fairless up at Hazlitt. You'll want to keep an eye out for Daemon's book, which I think will be out this year or next.


3. ... and if you're not sick and tired by then, try listening to this interview at, conducted by Joseph Planta. I'm happy with this interview, actually, the parts of it I was able to force myself to listen to. A little bit about the new book, the old books, and basically my life as a writer and a non-writer and all points in between.




All best, Craig.

Friday, September 20, 2013

According to the Internets, Paul Haggis is enjoying Cataract City—plus a CBC profile on the book

Hi All,

This was kindly passed on to me the other day. Mayhap I'd've missed it otherwise. If he does end up finishing it and liking it overall, it'd be a mutual admiration society kinda thing, as I've always enjoyed Mr. Haggis's work; The Black Donnellys was fantastic.


Also, you can watch me dipsy-doo on about the book, and read a little from it, in this CBC video:


And in other news: this looks a little creepy, but looks can be deceiving. Apparently it's about a pair of retirees who, uh, retire to a quiet little island in Florida (with pine trees—weird!) and come up with a great hot sauce recipe—hence the ribbons of hot sauce (not blood) on the cover. However, my German's shoddy so I may've gotten some of the translation wrong. But it sounds like a quaint feel-good book, really low-key, about relationships, getting old, and falling even more deeply in love. And hot sauce. Plus Stephen King blurbed it, so that's always cool.

All best, Craig.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Birmingham ...

Hi All,

So, I'm in Birmingham. Writing this at 11:10 am local time, 6:18 am my body time. So suffice it to say, having not slept on the plane, I'm in that dozy temporal space where nothing seems quite real.

Air travel. I know it's a time-honored wheeze of standup comics, but for good reason. It's hellish. Really, it's like, the 3rd circle of hell. The circle of seatrest-stealers and seatback-kickers.

Hyperbole? I think not!

I was on a discount airline, because, well, I'm poor and it suits my pocketbook. Very tight quarters. I got shuffled around here and there, seat to seat—there was a large family who all wanted to sit together, and I understand that—and ended up in the second-to-last row of the plane beside this old guy.

I like old guys in general. They're cranks, sometimes, and I like that. Or storytellers, and I like that too. I think old dudes are fun. I hope to be a fun old dude one day.

This old dude wasn't all that much fun.

This old dude kept farting.

On me, pretty much, because where else is the smell going to go?

Maybe I'm being unkind. I haven't slept in nearly 24 hours. Maybe I'm a little punchy and vitriolic. I mean, maybe he couldn't help himself. It was a long flight. But, I mean, man—come on! He was even lifting himself up, aiming, like passing wind in my direction was preferrable than into the aisle, where it might harmlessly waft around.

I'd discovered the 4th circle of hell: a window seat on a crowded airplane with a gassy, devious old man blowing hot rancid wind at you.

Anyway ... is this gross? You don't want to read this, do you? The travails of your intrepid blogger under assault from a cruel old farter. You should stop reading now. But I mean, what could I do? I'm asking because I've never faced this particular dilemma. What if he really had some kind of condition? If I'd said: Sir, your flatulence is alarming, and I'd prefer you visit the lavatory to void your demonic winds—and he'd collapsed, weeping in shame and horror? 

Perhaps I could've returned in kind, Guns of Navarone style. But that's a very dark road to go down.

I'll probably delete this post when I wake up. Maybe I will. I'm so tired I'm seeing into this weird 4th dimension. Things are licking and snapping around the peripheries of my sight ...

Then, behind me, this woman ... they've got these touchscreens on the seatbacks now, of course. They've added games. So instead of a little tappy-tapping while the person selects a movie and watches it for a few hours, followed by maybe a little more tapping ... you've got this person playing I-don't-know-what-the-hell, a game called Crazy Pokers perhaps (not the card kind, oh-ho-HO no, this is the finger-poking craze that's sweeping the nation!) or maybe Poke-tastic Pokeriffic Pokers, the game where you poke the screen real hard like you're stabbing it to death!

You ever wonder how it might feel to be a weevil inside a dead tree with a woodpecker hammering at it, trying to get inside and eat you? I sort of do, now.

I did end up rearing up over the seat and saying that to her, pretty much. She feigned ignorance and said: "Oh, is that bothering you?" And I said: "I thought you'd tire of it, but you really really like that game."

Of course, the danger here is that the person doesn't lay off. Then what? You've got to escalate matters, don't you? In the end, when she went back to Pokeroo and the Pokey-Pokes, I put my seat back—which I honestly didn't want to do, seeing as she was up against the bulkhead and couldn't recline herself—and I guess that rendered her poking angle less than ideal, because after a few cholicy attempts the poking stopped.

The farts? Still going great guns, sadly.

So I get to Brussels clad in a terrible miasma of old-guy poots (or so I assume), find out my connecting flight's cancelled. I can either zip onto the early flight and say bye-bye to my luggage until it finds its way to me, or take a flight 8 hours later. I take the early flight. I have to fill out this immigration card. It asks my profession. I'm always a little weirded out by that. I depends where I am in my life. I could've written "student," but at my age that seems sort of sad. At other times I've written whatever I was doing to make money: Bus Driver, Librarian, Magazine editor, Derelict, Carnival roustabout, etc.

So this time I go with "writer," because hell, for the time being it's the truth. I'm making my living at this, long may that persist (it likely won't).

Of course, it can lead to conversations like this:

IMMIGRATION OFFICER: Writer, yeah? Anything I may have read?

ME: Ah, I doubt it. They made a movie out of my first book. Rust and Bone.

IMMIGRATION OFFICER: Oh! I know that movie! Didn't like it at all!

[Who SAYS that? Oddly, more people than you'd think. Writers get slagged a lot. Or I do. What can I say in return? I've seen your work, Mr. Immigration Officer, and I find it lacking. Your stamping technique is piss poor—piss POOR, I say!]

ME: Ah. Well. Sorry for stealing two hours of your life then.

IMMIGRATION OFFICER: Come on. It was more than 2 hours.

ME: Okay, two and change.

After filling out a form to have my luggage delivered WHENEVER, I moseyed on over to my lodgings, only to discover that I can't check in until 2pm. Makes sense! Hey!

Where the hell is the pub? I hear this country is lousy with them.

All best, Craig.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

CBC Excerpt of Cataract City

Hello All,

Still wondering whether you want to pony up for a copy of Cataract City? I get it. Lots of good books out there. If you wanted a taste of what it's about, here's an excerpt courtesy of the CBC. My thanks to Maria Turner for the interview portion, too.


Also, here's another excerpt, from the same section (the first part of the book), published at Boulderpavent. Between them it gives you a sense of the book, I think.


All best, Craig.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Cataract City covers / PhD a-startin'

Hello All,

Well, I thought I'd show you some of the foreign Cataract City covers that are trickling in. They all take a different tack on the book's narrative. I think they're all cool.

But first, my son Nick shows some love for the Canadian edition:

He's a big reader ... The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Each Peach Pear Plum, etc. This is a little higher-level for him, but his glasses (he's a little farsighted) have convinced him that he's very erudite and ready to tackle grown up literachurr.

Here's the US cover, coming next year from Graywolf:

It's got the bases covered nicely: wrestling, prison, greyhound racing. A cool geometric approach to things. Thanks to Ben Percy for the quote, too!

The UK cover, which I may have posted eons ago, coming next year from Atlantic UK:

So, the two main characters as boys. I like this one a lot, too.

In other news, I'll be heading over to the UK tomorrow to start my PhD in Creative Writing at the University of Birmingham. It's distance ed, so I'll only be there 2 weeks every year and the rest I can do from home. It's a 3-year program and it allows me to more or less live the life I'm living now, in Canada with my fiancee and our son, so hopefully the status quo will continue apace. I would like to say that I'm going to see a lot of England, but I'm likely to be holed up in my room, writing furiously to finish the second book of a contract. But surely I'll get out for a pint at a pub the odd night. I'll miss my family terribly, of course, but Colleen's Mom is coming to town to help out while I'm gone, seeing as she's back at school pursuing her Master's of Social Work. Busy times at the ole hacienda.

I'll finish with a video that I found on the memory card holding the pics of Nick, seen above. In it I'm drinking a beer (it's past noon, I swear!) and reading a book to Nick. I have a habit of changing the narrative of these kid's books, sometimes poisonously so, not that Nicholas knows. Colleen tried to film me doing so, but I was wise to her ways ...

All best, Craig.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Giller Longlist / Precious Cargo re-post

Hello All,

File under: some days even the blind squirrel finds a nut; some days the sun'll even shine on a dog's ass:


A lot of bloody good books and writers there. Pleased/surprised to be part of it.

Also, some people have written me regarding a nonfiction story I wrote, Precious Cargo, about my year driving a special needs bus. Below is a link to the cleanest/most easily readable version to be found online.


All best, Craig.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Reviews, interviews, and etc

Hello All,

I'll post reviews of Cataract City here, though I won't be reading them—as I may've mentioned in this space before, perhaps ad nauseum, they kind of do my head in. I'm in the finishing stages of a new novel and to read a review of a book I worked hard on, to see the way another person reacted to it ... sometimes that's just not wise. A few years from now I can revisit them, maybe. But I'm sure that all the reviews will be honest, critical where they ought to be, and, y'know, obviously truthful to that reviewer's impression of the book. I appreciate Noah Richler and Deborah Dundas (two top-shelf reviewers whose reviews and other critical writing I've frequently read and enjoyed) for taking the time to give their sense of Cataract City.

UPDATE: The Globe and Mail's review came in, too. So, the trifecta in one day. I'm appreciative to Steven W. Beattie for his review; as with the other reviewers, Steve is a pro and I value his opinion, which is why I won't read the review for awhile—but that shouldn't deter you one iota.

UPDATE AGAIN: Quill and Quire's review has been posted. By James Grainger, who interviewed me before I got my ears boxed at Florida Jack's, and also happens to be an excellent writer and reviewer. I've been really lucky with the reviewer talent. So, did I read this bad boy? Hell no! Should you? Absolutely, especially if you were thinking of ponying up for the book at some point!

TORONTO STAR REVIEW (I dig the illo!)

Also, a print interview conducted by Mark Medley, the hardworking and very cool editor of the National Post's book section. This I did read, and enjoyed it just as much as I'm able to enjoy things of this nature (ie: things that I'm a primary part of). Mark's a pro, a terribly good guy, and I really appreciate him taking the time to drive up to Cataract City with me while I nattered his ear off.

And also to Glenn, for his dogged photography session. Dig that classic "writer looking into the nebulous middle-distance" thing I've got going on! I was probably looking down Clifton Hill to the Funnel Cake stand, thinking that I'd like to eat the hell out of one of those bad boys but realizing I'm already getting a little bit of a dad-belly and knowing my feral metabolism wouldn't abide the insult. Sigh ...


UPDATE: Also, this interview with Victoria Ahearn, whose ear I also yakked off with all my yakkety-yak-yakking.


All best, Craig.

PS: If any readers come across other reviews or Cataract City miscellanea and want to email me to point out their whereabouts, I will certainly post them. Don't worry if it's a less-than-stellar review, as I won't be reading it anyway! As I refuse to type my name or the book's name into google, I really don't know if there are other reviews or where they may have appeared. It's tough being a cyber-hermit.

Monday, September 9, 2013


... for those of you who can't get enough of stammering gingers.


All best, Craig.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Global TV Morning Show

Hello All,

Want to watch some more awkward conversating by yours truly—this time with a bubbly, fun, highly professional morning TV crew? Yes? You can't get enough, you gluttons for punishment! Okay, then sit back and watch me hoover the air out of the room:


All best, Craig.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013


Hello All,

Book's out today in Canada. Go forth and buy ye a copy! Or online works, too:

I can't possibly watch this, but if you'd like to, here it is:

My thanks to Bev for the lovely interview. I could use some TV grooming, cutting down on tics and such (I haven't watched, but I'm sure this is so), but remember, I'm an amateur, and be kind.

Also, some new/clarified tour dates:

October 2 – PORT HOPE (event with Mary Swan and Anthony De Sa)
October3 – WATERLOO (event with Mary Swan and Anthony De Sa)
October 14 – 20: CALGARY (WordFest)

1. This really happened, storytelling series. Oct 16, 9pm, location TBA
2. October 17 at 12 noon, Calgary – On the Wrong Side of the Law
3. October 19 at 3:30 pm, Banff – Ryeberg Live
4. October 20 at 11 am, Banff – Blokes and Brawls

October 24 – November 3: TORONTO (IFOA)

1. Reading
Friday, November 1, 2013 8:00PM
Fleck Dance Theatre

2. Brave New Word: How to be a Writer
Saturday, November 2, 2013 12:00PM
Lakeside Terrace
Moderator: TBD 

November 21 — Fanshawe College, LONDON
November 28 — Niagara Falls public library, LaMarsh Room, 7pm.
January 24, 2014 — Western University, LONDON

All best, Craig.

Monday, September 2, 2013

First Review of Cataract City

Hello All,

Here's the first review of the book (at least that I've seen), courtesy of Maclean's. Thanks to Mike Doherty at the magazine for taking a look at it.

Cataract City review

All best, Craig.