Saturday, September 22, 2007

Norman Mailer Fantasy.

In a rambling discourse on Canadian literature, our young correspondent, one Trevor Record supplies the following information, taken, I guess from one of his courses on Canadian writing.

You, perhaps, need certain things in your books to be considered "literature" rather that whatever it is the rest of us toiling away in obscurity are writing here in Canada. Some of these include:
1. A youth protagonist (teenage or younger) that comes from a troubled home and has a dull life (although possibly peppered with casual drug use and sex).
2. A protagonist (usually female) that has some sort of psychological illness
3. A small town, possibly religious group, or native community.

Hm. Number two. A protagonist (usually female) who has some sort of psychological illness.

Well, dog my cat.

Right up my alley.

Lana appears before you while you are rolling your own cigarettes, the 1920's Vogue face, the bobbed hair, a Drew Barrymore fallen into the rye on one September day, though I knew in future September days it was not a field of rye that Lana would fall into, but a baroque field of dreams, of opium, and then the rush of cocaine that would make her thoroughly modern, thoroughly Chicago out of 1930.

Yet it was l986.

I was a newspaperman with a predilection for French authors, because they were so maddeningly thorough, the linchpin of real writers and so well did I get to know twentieth century authors in French that I soon got to teach a night course in it.

Ah, the French penchant for the absurd, the splayed-out mysticism of an Andre Marois and the incredible clarity of image and idea that only Frenchmen possess, and they'd be the first to tell you. Despite the utter incomprehensiveness of their humour (Fat man wears mop-wig--ha- ha) the French are somewhat superior and they know it. Celine, for instance, or, for that matter, Celine Dion.

Enough that I was a teacher of French authors and she walked in one day with no hint of the Vogue beauty that I would later know, no inkling as to the heaviness of spirit that would later come to oppress me, no clue at all as to the beautiful woman who resided in the suburban Mam's overalls, the little white tee shirt with the red apple monogram, the closely cropped hair like Celine Dion in Las Vegas.

Thoroughly modern.

But not me.

I was an old hot-lead linotype newspaperman just getting over a divorce, getting my love out of imagination, tossing the I-Ching, seeing my love in the allure of print until she walked in.
We had actually met the very first time on the stairs of Sacred Heart School where Seneca had a night class. She was on the way up and I was on my way down. She had looked different then, walking right up to what seemed the middle of a Goethe fantasy of mine. How these screwball women with their multiple personalities and costumes

We had actually met the very first time on the stairs of Sacred Heart School where Seneca College had a night class. She was on the way up and I was on my way down. She had looked different then, walking right up to what seemed the middle of a Goethe fantasy of mine. How these screwball women with their multiple personalities and costumes do attract one: She was the very image of Kathschen Shonkopf, Goethe's firs love, the nice high forehead so many girls from Ontario possess, the hair severely back in a bun with the neatest little bonnet atop, large haunting eyes like your mother's, straight nose somewhat probing, delightful little crooked lips and the cutest overbite.

She did encourage my Goethe fantasy. I saw another image of Lana, but this time with a pre-Victorian dress exquisitely corseted, nice breasts, waist hardly existent at all. And Granny boots!
So there were at least two Lanas that I already knew about, and after the years, many, many more.

So I offer this opener, which debouches into a chapter, then a second chapter, along with an outline-- to House of Anansi Press, the very bastion of Can-lit in Toronto.

They didn't entirely tell me to eff off and call me a pr*ck, but they may as well have.

"You don't match our current list of authors."

In my uh, humble opinion, I eat that bunch of sorry incompetents for breakfast.

That or it's pride cometh before a fall.

Well, there has already been a fall.

And there are even little rills here, even under the bottom.

So I really have nothing to lose. I am very heartened by an old account by uber-novelist Norman Mailer, who after all his success was also slapped in the face.

Like many another vain, empty, and bullying body of our time, I have been running for President these last ten years in the privacy of my mind, and it occurs to me that I am less close now than when I began. Defeat has left my nature divided, my sense of timing is eccentric, and I contain within myself the bitter exhaustions of an old man, and the cocky arguments of a bright boy. So I am everything by my proper age of thirty-six, and anger has brought me to the edge of the brutal.

Well, I'm nearly twice thirty six and I should like to say, less elegantly than Mr. Mailer, that I am pissed.
Don't know why I should be though.
Robertson Davies, the late world class Canadian novelist, rumor goes, was rejected by the same house for "belle-lettrism."
Go figure.

Either my lettres are too belle or not belle enough. One good thing I can say for Margaret Atwood, is that she can sure write a bell lettre. I have seen her tribute to John Updike.

Maybe I am just too wordy.

Or maybe I scared the living crap out of them.


*Ah, but lookee here...It does seem to get darkest before the light:


EA Monroe said...

Ivan, you have a style and a voice that is distinctly your own! I was really getting into reading about Lana and thinking -- this would make a great novel. I definitely wanted to read more. Keep looking for other houses to publish your work -- or steal Norman Mailer's agent. said...

You sure lightened my mood this morning.
I really was concerned that I might be too wordy.
Yep, I would dearly love to steal Norman Mailer's agent, though the old fellow is well up to his eighties by now...And still working, still cranking out novels!
I keep changing my female characters name, but for now it is Lana.
Thanks for your continuing encouragement. (I hink it was you who first found my Black Icon listed on Amazon (though that book is, sadly, out of print)...I kept googling till I found out the new information at the bottom of my blog...Kind of gave me a rush. I had nothing to do with this new Google publicity.
Good old internet!
Ah well. People on the phone. Some local litarary venue is possible.

Thanks again, and you know how much I like your own work. You will be (are?) a great American prairie writer.


Josie said...

Good morning, boychik. I just popped in to say hello and have a great Saturday. I will read your blog post a bit later. No time, no time... got errands to run.

And vodka to buy.


Anonymous said...

Saturday September 22nd

Hello Ivan Prokopchuk,

I found your name and email address on the / Foymount web site Data Base page and wanted to contact you.

If I have previously emailed you regarding this information below, I apologize and I'm sorry to have repeated myself.

I am trying my best not to duplicate emailing people, but it may periodically happen as I am finding names and email addresses in different forums and from various sources.

My name is Dave Thompson (Foymount 72-74) and I live in Niagara Falls, ON. Richard "Stringer" Conrad (Foymount 67-73) who lives in Edmonton and Rachelle Roy (now Disipio) (Foymount 69 - 74) who lives in Ottawa have formed a committee and we're organizing an RCAF/CFS Foymount Reunion to be held next AUGUST 8th - 10th / 2008 in Eganville, ON.

This reunion is for ALL former RCAF/CFS Foymount military personnel, their family members, former civilian base employees and former base school teachers.

The reunion will include a Friday evening Meet/Greet/Welcome social event at the Eganville Legion Br. 353 upstairs in their 300 person banquet hall and then for all day Saturday and Sunday our home will be the Eganville arena main floor facility.

There will be a pilgrimage up to the former base site around mid Saturday morning where we will have some guest speakers / dignitaries etc and then some time to wander around a little bit and reminisce, maybe visit the Black Water Factory store, whatever people choose to do.

We will have memorabilia set up (photos, clothing, awards, whatever people will bring) at the arena all day Saturday and Sunday as well as on Saturday evening we will have a dinner / dance / social evening with DJ music from the 50's to the 70's (the years of Foymount operation 1952 - 1974). We have a multitude of things on the go and much more info will follow soon.

Once Margaret Lecuyer ( web site coordinator) returns home from her vacation in a few days, she will be helping me set up a separate page on the web site dedicated to the Foymount Reunion.

I hope and look forward to hearing from you. Please feel free to pass on my email address or phone number 905 - 358 - 6924 or Richards email address or Rachelle's email address to get in contact with us.

If you or anyone from your family or anyone you know can remember any names or have ANY contacts with anyone from your time at Foymount, please give them the above information and have them contact us or please pass that info on to us and we will contact them. We need the help of everyone to make the list of possible attendees grow even larger.

I look forward to hearing back from you. Thank you for your time.


Dave Thompson - Foymount Reunion Coordinator said...


Good morning.

I understand you and Tara had a telephone talk last night.
This I found intriguing, but like you, I was busy putting the current blog together and didn't ask Tara how it all went.
What a community we are forming, the Quarks, the Anti Quark, the Anti-anti Quark (Mark, The Walking Man) and the apprentice quark, Tara.
"There is no illusion here but plain belonging," a Ukrainian poet once said.
Busy, busy, busy.
"Scribble, scribble scribble, eh?"
I think someone once said the Dr. Johnson.
But real life do get hectic, donnit?

Ivan said...


Good morning.

I understand you and Tara had a telephone talk last night.
This I found intriguing, but like you, I was busy putting the current blog together and didn't ask Tara how it all went.
What a community we are forming, the Quarks, the Anti Quark, the Anti-anti Quark (Mark, The Walking Man) and the apprentice quark, Tara.
"There is no illusion here but plain belonging," a Ukrainian poet once said.
Busy, busy, busy.
"Scribble, scribble scribble, eh?"
I think someone once said the Dr. Johnson.
But real life do get hectic, donnit?

Ivan said...

Hello Dave Thompson,

The one thing I share with my hero Norman Mailer is that we both did military time, though his was a shooting war and mine a beautiful five years in gorgeous, green, hilltop radar sites, one of them near Eganville ON.
I will endeavor to attend the Air Force Fighhter control operator reunion--it is only 240 miles away...hell I can hitchhike if need be.


eric1313 said...


Sounds like you have you troubled heroine to me. Let her speak in the hallows and record all that you hear.

Now they have no excuses, and will have to tell you point blank that you aren't acceptable because you are the wrong sex, or wrong sexual orientation.

eric1313 said...

Then you can write a wonderful expository novel on being a down and out heterosexual novelist.

the walking man said...

Ivan the anti to my anti...I guess that means when I say fuck 'em they are worthless editors and agents who make the lions share of your intellectual property, your Place then is to beat them at their own game by not looking for an advance of any kind but rather 5 extra points when the shit sells off the shelf because all of us will be publishing the release date on every blog we regularly visit and our word of mouth will be your advertising budget. Get that from them in a check and tell them you'll handle the advertisement of the book.

so magically I say Fuck 'em the world can have my shit for free your literature must be purchased.

That then is the value of an anti-anti Quark.

Great success Anti Quark


eric1313 said...

Now that's a plan--straight from the dragon-lions mouth

Inside our hands, outside our hearts said...

Anyone home? said...


Doormouse found some femented wheat.

eric1313 said...


Yeah, he needs to beware of the LSD affect of rye-gone-mouldering.

They say it caused a lot of problems in the medieval era, people imagining vampires and witches and the end times and such.

But... ahhh... you said fermented wheat. That's a different story.

We'll be here for him, won't we?

How are you today?

Inside our hands, outside our hearts said...

I see. Will it take over?

eric1313 said...

Oh, that was the doormouse.

Gurggeling a roar?

Inside our hands, outside our hearts said...

I am lost in the mist... tangled in the web of the trees and wishing like hell into a wishing well.


You Ivan?

Inside our hands, outside our hearts said...


Are you around? said...

Eric, how insightful of you.

I never thought of structuring a novel that way.
A man coming upon epiphany-like realizations about an errant heroine, possibly dead, and the things she had to say to him through the ether.
This would open, maybe, into a Supreme Novelist in whose novel both the male and female characters
...Just a flash after all that fermented wheat...Say it on--rye.

Ivan said...


A novel about a techno-gay future where giggling cops break up couples would be interesting as hell. Ha.

Ivan said...


Ooh. You are Una and I am the green knight--that's about all I remember of Spencer's Faerie Queen.

There was also Pope's Rape of the Lock, which one of my Jewish fellow students lampooned as Locke's Rape of the Pope.
English 10l was kind of a drag.

Inside our hands, outside our hearts said...

"(Una says:) wisdome warnes, whilest foot is in the gate,
To stay the steppe, ere forced to retrate.
This is the wandring wood, this Errours den, A monster vile, whom God and man does hate: Therefore I read beware. Fly fly, quoth then
The fearefull Dwarfe, this is no place for living men." said...


In the past, whenever my largely self-promoted books would appear, I would almost always have a good press--very probably because I worked in he press and had friends there.
People would organize book signings. The last one was a flop, but who should appear to get a book signed but a premier writer for a chain of local papers and he put out a review of my novel, Light Over Newmarket just before Christmas( some years ago). You can imagine the book sales... Books by local authors make good gifts; they are certainly compact and easy to wrap!
I would venture to say that my Light Over Newmarket probably sold as many copies as any output of Company X's latest dogs.
I in fact took out a $1,000 ad in the Globe and Mail here, a cartoon,
showing a dog wrapped in a book, sort of like a hot dog.
Caption was, "At last! A Canadian novel that's not a dog."
This was a dangerous thing to do, but it sure as hell improved sales.


eric1313 said...


That's a great idea, ehh? (in my best Canadian accent)


Living men sould beware the fearfull dwarf. He has a penchent for biting kneecaps, or worse... said...

Sir Gawain (or Taras Bulba?) says, I will stay the steppes (For I am a steppe-dancer.. and a Cossack?).

But that's quite pretty, Tara.
I had forgotten how eloquent Spenser could be.

Ivan said...

So what has changed since Spenser's time?

His evil dwarf was named, I think, Orgoglio.

And we are still run by the Italian mob...Soprano?

Ivan said...


Saturday Night Live just came on.
I gotta watch the lead-in.
Hope it's Kristen Wiig doing Nancy Polosi.

Stick around, Eric.

Back in a bit.

Inside our hands, outside our hearts said...

I am finding that today is strange and so I write...

I wish that I could reach you
Every night I sit in front of my mirror
Let down my hair after a long day
And I dream

I play with idea of your fingers gently cascading down
Finding their way to my shoulders
And our lips meeting
A standing ovation of two

Inside our hands, outside our hearts said...

I dream that the nights darkness only covers
And that in the morning my eyes will find a new light
A love that has no fear
No reason for second guessing

eric1313 said...

And of two
joining from distance
to nearness and wramth

To become one,
standing alone

After the long day is done
long fingers grasping
The Mirror the only barrier
of two worlds
two dreams

An the passion filled night
is so very very young

eric1313 said...

Don't jump the gun, Tara!

It takes a few minutes to spin golden threads from these tired words we call language...

Inside our hands, outside our hearts said...

No longer will my arms be vacant
My heart will have found its resting place
and the pain that once lived inside has been washed away

Inside our hands, outside our hearts said...

lol eric we are mixing words and they are going in several directions

Inside our hands, outside our hearts said...

Nah, I am feeling love, but I am still not completely sure it is feeling me.

eric1313 said...

No longer will day
to night to day again be
a never ending strand
or a fruitless procession

But each will be ours;
not yours
or mine


eric1313 said...

Feel the love

Do not waste its gentle rains
But run through the puddles and splashes
it makes

Your heart be many times younger
You lips are soft and speaking to me well
Through the ethereal, swirling haze said...

There is only one direction.

Must be my Service background, barrack room humour, but I say,

"Clear the track.
Hand car coming!"

Inside our hands, outside our hearts said...

Ivan! Do you have any tissues? said...

...That is not to drag down the eloquence a poesy of Eric or Tara.
Both you guys are evocative. said...

Uh, one thing I learned from Leonard Cohen in his beautiful premier novel of a generation ago...the hero used socks.
Small wonder one of our local TV puppet shows features Ed the Sock. said...


Seems one of my talents is to clear out a room fast. :)

eric1313 said...

I'm still here Ivan.

I was waiting, smoking on my balcony, pondering the stumps of all the recently dead ash trees that had to be cut down this year when they died from the emerald ash bore. Things change terribly fast, sometimes.

eric1313 said...

Last year, they were all green, when last I visited this area, before moving. said...

I recall that being a particularly lovely tree. Five leaves at a time or something. Now no leaves.

ivan@c said...

Not yielding to caffeine-induced silliness, I will not touch a line like emerald ash bore. LOL.

Lord. Bishop Tutu.

eric1313 said...

OK, Ivan

Here's "Luna", as requested

Sliver of pristine silver
Cut the sky with your first slash of beauty
Lucent and remote
Following the faithful whose eyes you canvas

From nothing you grow
And with you, our shadows
Deeper--darker in the light of eternity
The contrast playing on skin

With time you have grown
Night blossom, the last rose
Until your recession--last sliver of farewell
Whenshadow and the night are faded to black

The star grieve with us your illustrious passing
And though without hope, the cycle repeats in perpetuity
Again--we all fall into your light said...


The good news, I suppose, is that it's the kind of poem I wish I could have produced by thirty, though I think that I would have said "arc of silver orb" instead of "Sliver of pristine silver" as the opening line...But then that's just me; I have quite forgotten what the term assonance was supposed to be.

Otherwise, yeah.
I'm glad you sent this in.
I am sure Tara and the ladies will like this poem as much as I do.

...I did try something like this in the past, applying the moon theme to a song being born, to musical composition.
It did not work.
You might get a chuckle of what the poetry editor sent me: "This is not a good poem".
Well, I thought to myself, like the waiter in Monty Python's "The Meaning of Life," F*ck you.

It does look like you succeeded in a theme I'd failed at in the past.
Congratulations, and thank you for letting us be charmed by "Luna".

Ivan said...


By fortunate accident, I just found vintage Monterey Pop Festival on PBS.

Gotta watch.

Like Omega Man, in another movie.

'Night all.


eric1313 said...

Ahh, Monterey.

I love the performance by Mister James Marshal Hendrix, his rendition of "Like a Rolling Stone" is better than anyone's, I've always felt.

The Who was schedualed to be the headliner of the show, but they insisted Jimi play first, since nobody wanted to have to go on after Hendrix's wild act.

I was up talking to my dad for a bit and lost track of things. Hope all goes well for you, Ivan.

Hope Tara is well, too.

peace out, everyone.

eric1313 said...

Pardon me, The Who insisted Jimi play last at the even, the normal headliner spot.

Sorry, I don't feel myslef tonight, Ivan. Hope tomorrow is better.

It should be. said...

Sorry to hear.

Hope you feel better.

EA Monroe said...

Eric, you're a musician aren't you? Do you ever set any of your verse into music?

I always enjoyed taking poems I enjoyed and scoring them to something I could play on the piano and sing. Of course, my old man being a musician would then take my music and write other lyrics to it for the band.

I enjoyed your poem and Tara's and your verses, too. said...

Mallory (dimly remembered) in Middle English + -

And the kyngge lay in his bedde under which were all manner of foul bestissche
And the kyngge cried out, helpe! helpe!

Ah well, good night to all anyway.


eric1313 said...


That's how I started writing poems in the first place. To try and write songs. But they don't always lend themselves to being sung. So I realized that what I had were poems, verse, really.

Then I started writing the occasional stories. I miss writing stories. Soon, I'll do more, but I'm having lots of fun writing poems and such. I don't believe in forcing it--just let it all come naturally.

Thanks for the words, I enjoyed writing last night too. I love writing and exploring the inner self and seeing how much better I can get, try to exhaust ingenuity.

eric1313 said...


I'm getting there. Glad to drop by again on a chilly evening.

Actually, I wrote that poem when I was 26. A while back. I haven't sent out in years, really. I should, but I don't know where to submit my stuff to. I'd get a poet's and writer's catalogue, but I don't even know if I can afford gasoline or smokes--I'm running out of both! said...

Wasting madness, this writing thing, innit?
Here we are, a generation apart and all the while paying dues like crazy. Like a band leader I know, who rails, "How long you gotta pay dues?"
It did work in the past, you do your best work while your balls are in pawnborker's hock...that is where I established myself, but so many factors have to be there, the perch in the factory to sleep in, the xerox in the office to mail the contract back, the addrees you need for them to send the cheque.
...And then when you get fat and comfortable again, you can't get another short story accepted...So many things you can't see, like new etitors coming in, themselves wanting to make a mark, so they take a chance on you and you both win--that kind of thing...Damn it's tough when your work depends on the okay of somebody else.
So it's sort of "Borges on Borges" wherein an old Borges is talking to a younger Borges, Willie Nelson with the braids and grey hair talking to a oung version of shimself who is an obvious gypsy, like Django Reinhardt.
I too am out of smokes and gasoline and my thinking had better get practical fast and all the turtles are going to start catching up, and for the turtles, they only see what there is to see, so they might snap at you.
And so, pursued by a posse of turtles, I had better get practical, find a job and get the hell out of this jackpot.

Ivan said...

A thanks to Tara (Inside our hands, outside our hearts) for tracking back to an old blog of mine on Taras Shevchenko, the Ukrainian anti-slavery poet.

She had commented on this old blog, titled," Maybe, Taras, Just Maybe"--by way of her reproducing a Shevchenko poem that was unfamiliar to me, viz.,

The Days Go By

"The days go by, the nights go by,
The summer's passing; yellow leaves
Are rustling; light deserts the eye,
Thoughts fade away and feeling sleep -
All falls asleep. And I don't know
If I'm alive or but so-so,
Just floundering about the earth,
For I know neither rue nor mirth...

Where art thou, Fate? Where art thou, Fate?
No fate have I at all!
If You begrudge good fortune, Lord,
Let evil fate befall!
Don't let me walk around asleep,
A dead heart in my breast,
And roll about, a rotten log,
A hindrance to the rest.
Oh, let me live, live with my heart
And love the human race,
But if not that ... then let me curse
And set the world ablaze!
It's terrible to lie in chains,
To rot in dungeon deep,
But it's still worse, when you are free
To sleep and sleep and sleep -
And then forever close your eyes
And leave not e'en a trace,
So that the fact you lived or died
No whit of difference makes!
Where art thou, Fate? Where art thou, Fate?
No fate have I at all!
If You begrudge good fortune, Lord,
Let evil fate befall!"

T. Shevchenko

Thoughful of Tara.


Shesawriter said...

"You don't match our current list of authors."

Wow. I just blogged about a recent rejection I got. Great minds think alike, Ivan. said...

I'm still fuming.
I am going to buy $120 Birkenstocks, back up on lightbulbs
and write about my last bad date.

I didn't want to address this directly to you, T, in case anybody might consider us partners in crime. :)


Inside our hands, outside our hearts said...

::smiles:: said...

Sheepish grin.

You've been backtracking some old work of mine.

...And for the fist time, someone has written a political book and in it, he quotes something political I wrote in the Torotnto Star, many, many years ago.
I never could find my old magazine work ever since an old flame seized all my archived material.
...That's what I get from living off her to the point of exasperation. Darn parasitic writers...Maybe she resold my old articles...I didn't think my scrapbook really had any value.


TomCat said...

If I had to guess, I'd say it was your last explanation.

Inside our hands, outside our hearts said...

I have been looking about, true. The more I read the more I understand and the better I see you. said...


(blush) said...


You are probably right.

Your acumen goes beyond the political.

Anonymous said...

I spent the better part of this weekend at a couple of premium Atlantic Canadian literary events. Strangely, of the tens of writers I saw reading, publishers I saw presenting, and winners I saw collecting awards, all but one were white people.

-Benjibopper said...

That's a point, Benjibopper.

In Toronto, it seems to swing the oher way. White people who are nevertheless vaguely East Indian or African.
"If youre yaller,we'll let you in.
If you'r black, out the door, Jack."
I smile when top CBC broadcaster Suhanna Marchant is given the mantle of " Prominent Woman of Colour."
I don't see no colour.

Gledwood said...

Norman Mailer made me think...
there is such a thing as "the great American novel"... strangely we have NO SUCH EQUIVALENT here in Britain - seriously! No Great British Novel or pretentious would-be novelists. The British seem to have got lost in all that is ironic and twee and they love to be twee and call it "ironic" ... that is so British... sorry I know this has nothing to do with your post but thought you might find the "insight" amusing ... said...


Your insight is more than "amusing". It is right on.

Something has happened to British Literature in the last thirty-odd years. Where is John Braine, where is John Fowles?
All we seem to have is Grumpy Old Bookman, and he seems right in the
same doldrums that British literature is right how--right down to the writing, which is all content, but no fire, no style.