Thursday, May 26, 2011

A new project while actually quite exhausted.

What on earth, people ask, is a roman à clef, a novel about real life? It seems almost a contradiction in terms. If you write a novel in terms of a peceived truth, then it must be nonfiction, fact, truth, a kind of journalism.
Yet the truth can and will adapt itself to the cunning of some fictional techniques. The form has been successfully
tried by French 19th century novelists under the category of livier a clef.
Later, Truman Capote and Norman Mailerl used the form to great effect, using the novel as history and history as the novel.
I am an admirer of those French writers, of Capote and Norman Mailer. I am also nearly mesmerized by the late Jorge Luis Borges, a fabulist, and spinner of pure, God-infused fiction, which makes all our journalism, all our fictional output (at least in Canada) seem like clumsy scrawls.
While I add my own clumsy scrawls to what may become the first dark- side skeches of a Central Ontario town, I realize that Newmaket, of all places, is taking its first halting steps to producing its own literature. I am not alone in this enterprise, as others have been involved--and for a long time--even local politicians notably Frank Klees, MPP, and John Taylor, Regional councillor, among and others. . Furthermore Regional Chariman Bill Fisch has received money from Ontario to fund local artists.
Hey, I want it. I want to write a roman à clef.Yes. The creation of Newmarket's first roman a clef.

Hey, that sounds so French, so cool.


Three-quarter- ton pickup!

Let's see what happens when a literary mechanic tries his hand at a roman a clef.

I am still working on the roman à clef. If any interest is generated here, I will be posting the roman in my next blog...That's if I ever finish it.

(Drum roll here)

En garde!



Charles Gramlich said...

I thought much of your stuff was already leaning that way, Ivan.

ivan said...

I appreciate the observation, Charles.

eric1313 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
eric1313 said...

I learn more here from you guys than anywhere else.

Don't think for a second that just because I'm not always around I'm not thinking about your stories and whatnot. My friends all have heard of the great Ivan of Ontario (and Charles and many others for that matter) through me telling them about the whole other world I used to inhabit quite comfortably.

Anonymous said...

Hi folks,

New, fun review of the novel is up at I enjoyed this one because it made me feel like a fly on the wall at a book club where they were debating the merits of the book.

I also have two pieces in The Coast this week. My usual column argues that trying to cut gas prices is a futile battle and a poor policy choice:

The news piece is about community resistance to a new development in Fairview, a struggling community in Halifax. Unfortunately they cut about 40% of the content on this one, including some pretty important details. So, below, I give you a Chris Benjamin listserv exclusive, the full story [though I may put it up on my blog at some point so please don't share it without asking me first.]

Happy reading.

Chris said...


Fly on the wall indeed--just the way I felt while I read the review.

It is well executed, viz,

Drive by Saviours by Chris Benjamin
Posted: May 20, 2011 | Author: nataliejoan | Filed under: Review | Tags: Atlantic Canada, CanLit, fabulous, postaweek2011, recommendations, review | Leave a comment »
In my introductory post, I included a list of books I planned on reading in 2011. Chris Benjamin’s Drive by Saviours was on that list. To date, I have had more visits to this site as a result of searches for this novel than any other topic other than Barney’s Version. There were fewer people searching for Jane Eyre and Water for Elephants. I’d call that impressive.

As our book club choice for May, Drive By Saviours inspired the longest and arguably most interesting discussion we have had in a long time. I’ve been a member of the same book club for years… eight or nine I think. We’re pretty laid back. We discuss the book for an hour or so, drink wine, and conversation fades into discussion of work or children or annoying things our husbands did.

Wednesday night we got of course a few times, but kept coming back to the book...

ivan said...

Eric 1313,

Thankee. Flattering for all of us.

Welcome back to the um, world.

You have certainly contributed here in the past.

eric1313 said...

Maybe poetry has run it's course. Maybe not...

Gotta find my voice again! Certainly, I have a lot of love around me. But why is it that that's not enough? Misery certainly contributes as well.

Anyway, got a long day ahead, going to bring the new family, the girl, her kids and even the dog, to meet my own family. And have barbecue, of course.

I'll be around. Glad you're still here. said...


Worry not.

I am constantly amazed at your sharpness of mind, here and on other blog comments, notably Charles' .

I was especially taken by the poem up now on your blog.

I'd say worry not about the poetry.

And what a nice turn to have what seems a real relationship now!


Take care.

ivan said...


My printer has died and I have to go this way to get a letter to a local writer/editor copied.

So here is my note to Amanda Persico, of the Newmarket ERA.


Dear Amanda Persico,

Some months ago, you emailed me to inform me that you would do a piece on me as local author of a then just-published book, The Fire in Bradford.

There is now a new wrinkle to my current goings-on, and in fact, recent events might trump the issue of my somewhat down "The Fire in Bradford."

My very first novel, The Black Icon has always been a steady seller over the past forty years, usually through small Toronto bookstores and private requests from some academics and friends....It was, in fact, published in serial form in the old TOPIC, l975, when ole Gerry Barker had the paper.
It seems that the ICON has kept shining.
Recently someone from a cultural committee out of Edmonton, AB has requested ten copies of The Black Icon ASAP, so he can distribute it among his friends, who are probably academics. I know that this Peter Melnycky is himself a reviewer of books with Ukrainian content, though
I maintain that The Black Icon is a general interest novel.

Seems that opportunity strikes only once.

I immediately ordered a reprint of The Black Icon and sent the books to Peter Melnycky, who, I think is a PhD...I know he does book reviews and I could not let this new opportunity pass.

So ten ICONs have gone to Edmonton. From there on, where she goes, nobody knows.

I am forwarding a photo of the second-last reprint of The Black Icon. The Newmarket Public Library has already re-purchased the 2011 reprint and they have paid me...Fact is, I am already out of stock so the book cover photo I am sending you is of a l991 edition.

Perhaps centering my story on this new interest from Edmonton would be a little more "up" than a review or account of my somewhat passionate The Fire in Bradford.

What do you think?


Ivan Prokopchuk

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