19 Knives

by Mark Anthony Jarman | Literature & Fiction |
ISBN: 0887846629 Global Overview for this book
Registered by Pooker3 of Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada on 5/29/2006
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1 journaler for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by Pooker3 from Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada on Monday, May 29, 2006
I've mostly run into Mark Jarmon as editor of short story collections, so I'll be interested in how he does with his own collection.

Journal Entry 2 by Pooker3 from Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada on Sunday, November 15, 2009
I read these 14 stories, one after the other, in the span of about two hours and frankly it was a bit much.

An English prof (quoting an author whose name I can't now remember) once told our class that writing a book was like opening a vein and letting your blood flow onto the page. I've always liked that quote and I wish I could remember which author said it. I've often thought that that must be what it's like to write - depleting yourself of your very life's essence, your blood pumping out with every heart beat. Rather romantic too. One's life's blood. One's heart. Love. Passion.

Well, cripes. Jarman's stories don't exactly bring that analogy to mind. No. Rather for him, I think, writing these stories must have been like vomiting. One of those violent, technicolour, gut-wrenching, heaves splatting full force on the page, all bile-filled and acidy. Not one of those sicknesses where you have to get up every few hours to wearily hug the porcelain until the dry heaves subside, but a one time purging after which you can go to bed and blissfully fall asleep - the poison having been expelled.

One of the acclamatory blurbs in the front of the book (this one by Georgia Straight) suggested that "Jarman writes the way we'd like to talk, vocabulary tripping easily to tongue, snappy comebacks at just the right moment, never too formal or too painfully colloquial." Hmmm...I don't know about that. I suspect that he writes the way *he'd* like to have talked during one of *his* many embarrassing moments in life. I noticed that there was no author photo on the cover or in the book (I noticed that while reading "Love Is All Around Us" - more about that story later) which lead me to suspect that he was rather ugly - or thought himself to be ugly. Perhaps his face was scarred with acne pock-marks or he had some awful bulbous nose that he hated and was teased for as a child. Virtually all of the stories are written in wise-cracking or self defensive sentence fragments either strung together in a long run-on mishmash sentence or stood alone, one after the other, staccato bits, that you end up reading like a run-on sentence anyway. Sometimes, I thought (because I kept noticing) that they were too colloquial, contained too many cultural references. Sometimes they were painful to read. But I kept reading anyway. Even though at the end of each story I thought I'd better stop or I'd make myself sick. (Just one tiny wafer-thin mint, Mr. Creosote?)

Some of the stories were heart-breaking ("Burn Man on a Texas Porch" about a man who is set on fire when his trailer explodes and he has to live with the resulting disfiguring scars and "19 Knives" about a drug addict whose young son accidentally drinks his methadone) and others charming, such as "Subterranean homesick Blues" where a father of three thinks back to what he and his siblings did that drove his parents mad.

But my personal favourite, was "Love Is All Around Us" where a man heading out to Alberta to visit a friend sees Margaret Atwood everywhere. She's the stewardess on the plane, she greets him at the airport in a cowboy hat when the plane lands and she's the entertainment at the country bar that he and his friend visit. She's the recorded voice on his answering machine saying, "You have no new voice mail; you have no new voice, male." Haha! I find this particularly funny because my own partner, who indulges me with every book I could ever want, buys me the latest Atwood on condition that I never lay the book down with the author photo showing. He's never read an Atwood book, but claims he can't stand her. So, how terrifying she must be to a male Canadian writer! Oh tee hee!

Ahhhh...I think I need a little lie down.

Journal Entry 3 by Pooker3 at Winnipeg Convention Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada on Sunday, November 15, 2009

Released 10 yrs ago (11/15/2009 UTC) at Winnipeg Convention Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada

WILD RELEASE NOTES:

WILD RELEASE NOTES:

You'll find the book in the big government parking lot across the street (York Avenue) from the Convention Centre, propped against a rock in the graveled, treed area next to the sidewalk.

This book was released for week #46 of the Never Judge a Book by its Cover release challenge. The theme this week is "fire".

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