Thursday, August 07, 2008

Ahab the Arab stole my thunder. Sourness in the vinyards. Thank God for the Newmarket Public Library


Fingernail-upon- blackboard feeling. One is a raw nerve. And my right ear just ballooned out.


Something is rotten in the state of Denmark--I certainly was when I bought some soft-core porn in Copenhagen, the pornograpy capital of the world. Nice little old ladies selling schmutlissche phototografischen to the tourists.
And it was my luck to get two nuns having at it. Wrong pictures."Got other pictures?"
Terrible habit.

I have been smarting over rejections of late. Bad for the ego. I needed a success. Any success.

Blogger The Walking man says
Simply put Ivan old man, is what side of the window do you prefer to stand on?The one where you are housed and comfortable and climate controlled or the one that is outside where you can feel the breeze and still step off the porch to run with the big dogs?

Well yeah. I have run with the big cats before but that was when I was younger and smarter.and on a roll as a big-time columnist. But lately, like a groundhog hitting stone, I have developed a very sensitive snout and I think I'd better learn to start going around. This came at the time of a startling realization that books in Canada are not "sold" for their quality but on their local political blandness and recent lack of , face it, imagination--just enough to get the government grant and not tick off anybody in Ottawa.

And I see preening Giller prize authors, their books shot through with actual mistakes, as if they were translating from another language--which in this case, they were. I don't mind foreign content, but it makes it sort of hard for us home boys. Hey, I've been at this game for a long time, and I think I can write as well as Akbar.

Well, arguing with published work, even if shot through with mistakes and typos--doesn't count.
But this guy, before he got the Giller, was reviewed here in Toronto and I quote, "Some people make a virtue out of flat writing."
Well, he went on from an old House of mine to get the Giller anyway.
It seems the book doesn't matter at all. It's the understanding of the granting process and whom you know...

But Akbar didn't know anybody here. Aye, there's the rub.

I guess my work is inferior to anybody writing in Arabic and then having a bad translation made of it here.
Nevertheles, Akbar certainly knew he way around once he got off the boat.

I think I have been Eschered. Stairways leading to mazes. The Arab cats are good at mazes.

White hog most unhappy.

So it was someting like a small miracle that a bus driver happened upon my Light Over Newmarket in a Korean variety store-- of all places! recognized a local author, liked the book and returned to buy another copy for a friend.

What was my novel doing in a convenience store? "Dunno.," said Lian the Korean. It came with the stock in the store when I bought it."

Serendip book distributing. I do recall selling a whole load of my titles when I ran for mayor( Hey a man need funding!). Maybe some of the recipients at my political stump speeches went on to re-sell the book.

Serendip. Go with the flow.

So when the bus driver asked if I had any other books out, I said, "Yeah. The Black Icon. It's in the Newmarket Public
Library."
So when I got on the bus Monday, he said, "Whatcha doin' McLuhan? They won't let me take the book out. It's under Canadiana and the book has to stay in the reading room. They won't let me take it out."
I go to the library and they tell me the book had been on regular loaning shelves, but they got tattered as people took them out. "We were reduced to one copy and we put it under "Canadiana" so we could at least save one copy.
"So why didn' t you ask for replacements?
"Well, you're here now."

So I have made a sale of sorts. Two books for the Newmarket Public library, one a little tattered.
Well, I guess a sale is a sale, even if by the author. Not awfully good form, but it's a kind of success.
Right now, I'll take any success.

Walked out with this feelig that the gods may be kind again.

On the way home, I tripped.
##

10 comments:

Charles Gramlich said...

Hey, the money spends the same way rather I sell a book myself or someone else sells it for me. In fact, I tend to make more when I do the legwork. Well, more in the strict sense, although if you figure in my time I'm probably losing money.

That's pretty cool about the guy finding your book in such an out of the way place, though. How weird.

Lana Gramlich said...

Awesome on the book found in the convenience store & the whole library thing! Not everything is bad Nun porn & sidewalk trips, it seems.

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Charles,

Yeah, you go on these little rolls.
I go to a bookstore in nearby Aurora and a complete stranger, a woman, shells out the $40 and asks me to autograph the book.
"Whom shall I say it is to?" "Leslie, "she says. So I sign it "To Leslie..."
Some days the world seems full of angels.

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Lana,

Thanks.

Seems some days there is this strange synchronicity.

Donnetta Lee said...

Hey, you have WRITTEN a book! I'm just on chapter two and it will probably never see publication! I'd like to see it on a shelf, table, bookcase ANYWHERE!! Cool story about finding the book. Angels shuffling things around. Someone looking over your shoulder. Wow. Donnetta

the walking man said...

heya! thats the rub you need, become Ivan of Arabia. Write in Ukie and translate same to French then English. Be politically correct and next time you trip, call an ambulance and have a press release ready saying "long time Canadian author picked up after a fall."

The same sort of thing worked for Walt Whitman, it should work for Ivan Prokopchuk.

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Mark,

As usual, you are amazingly perceptive. I think you have pinpointed the guy I'm talking about.
I do think the guy came by it all honestly.
I recall a spoof on the song "Jealousy" by Frankie Lane sometime in the Fifties, but instead of Jealousy, a lampoonist made it into "Leprosy."


Leprocy
Night and day you torture me
There goes my left ball
Into your highball.

Gross, but I have been singing that somg for the last six months after getiing my "rejection" for the Giller. Hell, I wasn't even nominated and nobody at Giller-Scotia Bank knows who the hell I am.
Like any journeyman neurotic, though, I take everything personally. It was through the House of Anansi Press in Toronto that I had first gotten an Ontario Arts Council grant. So Ivan gets enough to get drunk on and Ahab gets $80,000.

Ah well one of the late Tristan
Tzara's commmandments for writers was not the envy the prizes/royalties of your fellows, for they may be flashes in the pan, and real succees comes later.
Some flash
Some pan.
That's a mmohergrabber of an income. Especially when the book was almost panned by our Quill and Quire reviewer fof "making flatness a virtue." I thought the reviews were supposed to be good in order to get the prize.

Jealousy
Night and day you torture me.

Yep. Walt Whitman. Had his ups and downs. Self published, selling his Leaves of Grass door-to-door.
A century later, hippies took the title "Leaves of Grass" for smoking something out of your father's front lawn and the book became very popular again.

Yes. "Ahab"s book was indeed translated into French and English from the Arabic.
I should writer in Ukie and traslate some to French and English--hey, even Arabic.

Twenty years ago, a friend suggested I should write out of Kiev as a dissident novelist and thereby get real exposure.
But the Berlin wall came down, Ukraine got its independence and now I'd just be another Orangeman at the ball.
I hope Tzara is right about flashes in the pan.

I do not like green eggs and ham.

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

Donnetta,

You are a doll.

the walking man said...

As long as your balls don't fall off Ivan there is still hope to father another "child."

ivan@creativewriting.ca said...

I think you are right again, Mark.
I haven't Kippled lately,but there is a lot of inspiration in Kipling.
"And build 'em all up again, with worn-out tools."