Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Robert Fulford, critic emeritus: Please attack me viciously in your next column


An open letter to Robert Fulford, culture critic emeritus, Toronto, Canada.

Dear Robert Fulford,

I am an obscure writer from Newmarket, Ontario. We have at different times crossed paths, but yours has always been the lucky and achieving way. I have watched your rise while at the Toronto Star, and certainly well before. And your recognition! Migod, you have more honorary degrees and published material than I today at my age have grey hairs.

Robert Fulford, I have asked favours of you before, but you were alsways sort of hard to light when it came to being a torch bearer for the likes of an upstart graduate of a technical university once jokingly called "Ryerson Pyromanical Institute", now a full blown institute of higher learning.
I do have a smugness about my alma mater. I at least earned my degree legitimately, but you got yours on sheer brilliance and writing ability, for which I, of course, hate you.

Robert Fulford, I would like to ask a favour of you.

In your next column of the National Post, will you attack me viciously as a bad writer, a fraud and a mountebank, hardly worth any ink at all?

I will certainly not sue.
An attack by an important critic is no small thing. Such attacks, say, in the New York Times, have, more often than not, led obscure writers like me to best-sellerdom.

Mr. Fulford, what have you got to lose?
Call me a pischer, call me a schmuck, but don't call me ignored.

Yours sincerely

Ivan Prokopchuk, B.A.A. (legitimately earned).

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Commies are after our body fluids, Mandrake!



I fear that the older I get, the more I'm becoming like the body fluids man out of old Dr. Strangelove, "Body fluids, body fluids, Mandrake. There is a Communist conspiracy to sap and impurify all of our precious
bodily fluids, Colonel.
"We must preserve out body fluids. I have to be like a Commie...Ever see a commie drink water, Mandrake?" That's because he's preserving his body fluids."

Well, you can immediately see that I am completely sane, like General Jack D. Ripper, who would not even add tap water to his vodka for mix. Gotta preserve our body fluids, Mandrake. Booga-booga!

Actually, it's more prosaic than that.

Even though retired, I sometimes take on projects way too big for me, like editing somebody's thousand- page novel, and then kidding myself, as to being able to could actally finish the job in a weekend.
So I've got to sort of hoard my energy like a miser. Heh. Can't lose those mental fluids.
Seriously though, I suddenly seem to have more work than I can handle--and I'm supposed to be retired....And I do most of it for a song (no wonder former wifey said I had no business head!)...It's just that I love torturing and arranging words. There is probably a diagnosis of the condition--enough that one is a word freak, that is to say a writer. And we are all freaks.
To reverse the condition all our influences would have to be taken apart, even our addiction, probably to that consistent bestseller, the Bible.... Like you'd have to apply some common sense -- Thirty-something Jeshua never sticks to his trade, doesn't marry Martha, wants to become a revolutionary from the building trades. He rattles the establishment. As in Palestine of old, he probably could not make it in America today. He might end up getting offed!

So not having any particular messianic tendencies (at least I think I don't), I gotta preserve at least, my mental body fluids.

So I'm taking a little time off.
Editing a thousand-page novel is a Herculean task, perhaps too herculean for my narrow shoulders, but hell, the blogger must monlight or starve.
Why does one ever become a professional writer, why, why, why?
...Because of too much success in your twenties.
You thought you could keep it up forever, you thought you could have eternal life as a writer.

Seriously, what did you expect. Eternal life?

Oh the cons of the ages. And we con ourselves into thinking we can make a conistent living as writers.
Would have been better of as evangelists, probably.

Turn on the TV late at night and you'd think Jesus is still alive as you and me.

And the preachers seem nuttier than Gen. Jack D. Ripper.

De Debbil is after out body fluids, Mandrake.

And I think I'm losing my mind as well. :)

Monday, January 02, 2012

And loudly flows the Don



Some years ago, after my clamoring for attention in the local press ("You can't ignore me, you can't ignore me! I am God's gift to writing,I have a tattoo across my back in which a full fox hunt is in progress. I have even joined the hunt club to get into your boardrooms. You can't ignore me)."
Yet editors continued to ignore me.

Here I was in the horsey part of Ontario, Tottenham and all that, and not only local media but the "horsey toffs" were ignoring me. "Cor. An ornamental hermit! We should take him to the club. Oh how we do absorb the foreign riff-raff.".
Still, I had taken to singing to myself, "Lord won't you buy me a Mecedes-Benz"--at least to tow the trailer with. My wife already has a horse...She was always horsey. And she taught me how to ride. (She had picked me up one day by the roadside, a frog prince who never did quite stop snagging mayflies with his tongue, an appendage of startling length--because he had been sort of that way all along).
Just no powdered wigs in my family and that was that. But Darn. It would be good fun being a lord. People would say, "Good Lord" as my plug of a roan would take to the apple trees, through branches and blossoms-- to try to unseat me. Still, I simply had to get a lordship in this area of King Township where the mucky-mucks be. Had to be at least like another unfortunate scribe, maybe Conrad Black. At least nobody ignores him, even in jail.

My last newspaper column had read, " Ivan Prokopchuk Ignored!"-- And after that, even more thoroughly ignored.

I had to at least get a Mercedes.

But the last Mercedes going by Tottenham was a truck loaded with Pakistanis looking for a home."Well, we came by Mercedes. All one hundred of us."

"Come Mr. Taliban, tally me banana."

I am still looking for a platform, if not a platform, a plinth, a mount any mount. Got to be noticed! Trying to be Hannibal in King City...Or at least Harry Elephante.

Finally, all my grandstading yielded results. "Well, you can write. You should at least teach english at King College."

They made me a don.

People would say, "There goes Ivan the don.'
In the pub, they would say, "How's it goin', Don?"
"Ya know somethin'? At the college, they might call you Doctor. But you drink so much. Over here, you're just 'asshole.'"

I stuck out my tongue, like Jar-Jar Binks.
Back to the basics. Back to the first word in my dictionary.
You just can't make a silk purse out of an aardvark's ear.