The Walrus Blog

The Trillium 25 Interview: Nick Thran

A Q&A with the author of Earworm
Nick Thran
Earwormnightwood Editions

The Walrus Foundation joins the Ontario Media Development Corporation in celebrating the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Trillium Book Award, Ontario’s leading literary prize. At walrusmagazine.com/trillium, we’ve grouped the finalists for the 2012 Trillium Book Award and the Trillium Book Award for Poetry alongside a select collection of past winners and Walrus contributors, including Margaret Atwood, Austin Clarke, Thomas King, and Karen Solie.

Here on The Walrus Blog, we are publishing a series of written interviews with this year’s English-language contenders. Yesterday, we completed our conversations with finalists for the Trillium Book Award; today, we are hustling through finalists for the Trillium Book Award for Poetry, which is given to “emerging” poets who have published a maximum of three books. Both awards, along with their French-language equivalents, will be announced this evening in Toronto.

Last in our group of three: Nick Thran, who is nominated for his collection Earworm.


Joseph MacKinnon: How did you react to this Trillium nomination for Earworm?

Nick Thran: I reacted with a mix of elation and temperance. With a celebratory spirit, then a long hard look in the convex mirror.

Joseph MacKinnon: The poetry award is designated for new and emerging artists, though it is evident from this and previous work that you’ve clearly set out a distinct style and voice, which I imagine took some time. That being said, do you feel as though you’re still a new and emerging writer?

Nick Thran: I am always new to the task of the poem at hand. I am also emerging into the concept that one may spend their whole life writing in a state of perpetual but rigorously inquisitive uncertainty — both about the kinds of work one wants to write and the tools one chooses or ends up with in order to bring the final product (ink) into existence.  (more…)

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The Trillium 25 Interview: Jacob McArthur Mooney

A Q&A with the author of Folk
Jacob McArthur MooneyMike McPhaden
FolkMcClelland & Stewart

The Walrus Foundation joins the Ontario Media Development Corporation in celebrating the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Trillium Book Award, Ontario’s leading literary prize. At walrusmagazine.com/trillium, we’ve grouped the finalists for the 2012 Trillium Book Award and the Trillium Book Award for Poetry alongside a select collection of past winners and Walrus contributors, including Margaret Atwood, Austin Clarke, Thomas King, and Karen Solie.

Here on The Walrus Blog, we are publishing a series of written interviews with this year’s English-language contenders. Yesterday, we completed our conversations with finalists for the Trillium Book Award; today, we are hustling through finalists for the Trillium Book Award for Poetry, which is given to “emerging” poets who have published a maximum of three books. Both awards, along with their French-language equivalents, will be announced this evening in Toronto.

Second in our group of three: Nova Scotia–born poet Jacob McArthur Mooney, who has lived in the Greater Toronto Area since 2006. He is nominated for his collection Folk.


Joseph MacKinnon: How did you react to this Trillium nomination for Folk?

Jacob McArthur Mooney: I was excited to be on a really good, really interesting list. Nick [Thran] and Helen [Guri] are wonderful, exciting, public poets. Prizes are great and all, but it’s really about who else is in the group with you, the shelf your book is placed on. And this is a really good shelf. It’s rewarding for Folk to be shelved alongside [Helen’s] Match and [Nick’s] Earworm. And there were so many other great eligible books this year, too. Aisha John’s The Shining Material and Robin Richardson’s Grunt of the Minotaur and others. Luck of the draw, sometimes.

Joseph MacKinnon: Do you feel as though you’re still a new and emerging writer?

Jacob McArthur Mooney: It’s such a weird expression. I feel like, in poetry, there’s two types of poets: emerging and deceased. But I’d like to think I’m always growing, emerging, rolling out. Improving maybe? But that one’s hard to define. And I’m a young guy, in poetry terms. So I don’t mind the word. Everyone wants to qualify you with something, and “emerging,” as an adjective, is at least adaptive. It’s something that you can evolve with.  (more…)

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The Trillium 25 Interview: Helen Guri

A Q&A with the author of Match
Helen Guri
MatchCoach House Books

The Walrus Foundation joins the Ontario Media Development Corporation in celebrating the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Trillium Book Award, Ontario’s leading literary prize. At walrusmagazine.com/trillium, we’ve grouped the finalists for the 2012 Trillium Book Award and the Trillium Book Award for Poetry alongside a select collection of past winners and Walrus contributors, including Margaret Atwood, Austin Clarke, Thomas King, and Karen Solie.

Here on The Walrus Blog, we are publishing a series of written interviews with this year’s English-language contenders. Yesterday, we completed our conversations with finalists for the Trillium Book Award; today, we are hustling through finalists for the Trillium Book Award for Poetry, which is given to “emerging” poets who have published a maximum of three books. Both awards, along with their French-language equivalents, will be announced this evening in Toronto.

First up: Toronto poet Helen Guri, who is nominated for her debut collection, Match.


Joseph MacKinnon: What first prompted you to start writing?

Helen Guri: God, I have no idea. I have written ever since I was a really small kid. By the time I reached the choose-a-career-path part of high school, I was already so committed to the idea of being a writer that I completely ignored the advice of the careers questionnaires (one of which, if I remember correctly, told me I should be either a teacher or an air weapons designer).

Joseph MacKinnon: What was the first work you published?

Helen Guri: Grain magazine was generous enough (cruel enough?) to accept the very first piece of work I ever sent anywhere, when I was eighteen. It was a poem about a house robbery. (Please, for your own good, do not look this up.) (more…)

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Sharp Corner, Pt. III

A homeowner witnesses three separate, brutal car crashes on his front lawn, and doesn’t want to admit that a part of him craves the rush each brings
cstoriesSharp CornerClick cover to purchasePt. I · II · III · IV · V

Download short fiction for any digital device. Visit walrusmagazine.com/cstories to learn more

With the second crash — dry, clear roads, right in the middle of a sunny Sunday afternoon — John felt he’d gotten better at grasping the important details. At cataloguing them more carefully. This time it was a pickup truck with a load of freshly cut fir logs. It didn’t so much leave the road as trundle in a straight line off hard into the ditch, the truck stopping faster than its load of wood did.

The top layer of logs slid through the window behind the driver, with one log, slightly more than a foot in diameter, striking the driver right at the base of the skull before smashing out through the windshield and coming to a stop on the hood. John stared through the side window at the driver for ages, amazed at the fact that the man’s dead hands were still holding on to the wheel, waiting fruitlessly for a signal to let go.

The passenger, a man in his fifties, was turned in his seat, caught as if looking at the driver, staring across “stone dead,” John would say later, as if killed by the tableau of sheer horror sitting next to him.

When the ambulance crew arrived a handful of minutes later, they yanked the passenger out of the truck roughly and spread him flat on his back on the ground, surrounded by John’s freshly cut grass, futilely pushing on the man’s chest and pumping air into his lungs with a ribbed plastic bag. John watched across the hood of the truck, smelling both the crisp smell of the fir sap and the brassy sharp tang of the fresh blood. He watched as the fire crew unloaded their gear, cut the roof away with the tools and lifted the log off the mangled driver.

This time, he had a better idea about everything the firefighters were doing, and when the police arrived, he realized that their investigation was more involved than he had given them credit for the first time. The whole process was quick, sure, but more calculated than he had realized with the Suzuki. They measured the short skid that lipped over the white line at the edge of the road and down into the gravel shoulder, and one policeman took photographs from every conceivable angle, stopping the firefighters at one point so that he could record the pattern left in the glass where the logs had marked and sprung through the back window. They unrolled a long yellow measuring tape and measured from the back wheels of the truck to where the skid started, and one officer climbed the tailgate and photographed the logs, too. (more…)

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The Trillium 25 Interview: Phil Hall

A Q&A with the author of Killdeer
Phil HallAnn Silversides
KilldeerBookThugThe Walrus Foundation joins the Ontario Media Development Corporation in celebrating the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Trillium Book Award, Ontario’s leading literary prize. At walrusmagazine.com/trillium, we’ve grouped the finalists for the 2012 Trillium Book Award and the Trillium Book Award for Poetry alongside a select collection of past winners and Walrus contributors, including Margaret Atwood, Austin Clarke, Thomas King, and Karen Solie. Here on The Walrus Blog, we are publishing a series of written interviews with this year’s English-language contenders.

Born: Bobcaygeon, Ontario

Resides: Perth, Ontario

Trillium Book Award–nominated work: Killdeer (2011)

Selected additional works: Eighteen Poems (1973), The Crucifixion (1979), Homes (1979), A Minor Operation (1983), Why I Haven’t Written (1985), Old Enemy Juice (1988), Amanuensis (1989), The Unsaid (1992), Hearthedral: A Folk-Hermetic (1996), Trouble Sleeping (2000), The Bad Sequence (2004), An Oak Hunch (2005), White Porcupine (2007), The Little Seamstress (2010)

Biography: Phil Hall was raised on farms in the Kawarthas region of Ontario. He moved to Windsor in 1972, where he received an MA in creative writing. In 1973, he published his first book, Eighteen Poems, in Mexico City. He considers much of his poetry “work writing,” having to do with the concerns, language, and ideals of labourers. When Hall moved to the West coast, he joined the Vancouver Industrial Writers Union as well as the Vancouver Men Against Rape Collective, and ended up teaching at the Kootenay School of Writing. In 1976, he started Flat Singles Press, a small imprint that primarily publishes broadsides and chapbooks. Hall has since worked as the literary editor of This Magazine, taught writing and literature at Toronto’s York University and Ryerson University, and has been a poet-in-residence at a number of universities and writers workshops. His Trillium Book Award–nominated Killdeer has already won the Governor General’s Award for Poetry.

Joseph MacKinnon: Killdeer has made a big splash in the Canadian poetry world. Can you tell us a bit about the collection?

Phil Hall: A book of essay-poems. The only punctuation is the dash. I like the dash for its speed, and I use it as musical notation. My stanza, in these, is the sentence or partial sentence, again a musical pacing. Reels and jigs.

Many of the pieces are about people: Margaret Laurence, Bronwen Wallace, Libby Scheier, Dan Jones, Nicky Drumbolis. My models for these poems were the French poet René Char, his work, and also old fiddle tunes.

Hoedowns. I like that word, hoedown. It means, Put your hoe down. Cut the rug…

Joseph MacKinnon: How did you react to this Trillium nomination for Killdeer?

Phil Hall: I think of Killdeer as a very Ontario book, and of Ontario as my country. So to be recognized by the Trillium folks means a lot to me. Samuel Johnson said, everyone secretly wants to be thought well of in his hometown. (more…)

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The Trillium 25 Interview: David Gilmour

A Q&A with the author of The Perfect Order of Things
David GilmourSandrine Expilly
The Perfect Order of ThingsThomas Allen PublishersThe Walrus Foundation joins the Ontario Media Development Corporation in celebrating the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Trillium Book Award, Ontario’s leading literary prize. At walrusmagazine.com/trillium, we’ve grouped the finalists for the 2012 Trillium Book Award and the Trillium Book Award for Poetry alongside a select collection of past winners and Walrus contributors, including Margaret Atwood, Austin Clarke, Thomas King, and Karen Solie. Here on The Walrus Blog, we are publishing a series of written interviews with this year’s English-language contenders.

Born: London, Ontario

Resides: Toronto, Ontario

Trillium Book Award–nominated work: The Perfect Order of Things (2011)

Selected additional works: Back on Tuesday (1986), How Boys See Girls (1991), An Affair with the Moon (1993), Lost Between Houses (1999), Sparrow Nights (2001), A Perfect Night to Go to China (2005), The Film Club (2007)

Prose for The Walrus: Ringo’s Drum Roll” (February 2007); “My Life With Tolstoy” (July/August 2006)

Biography: After studying comparative literature under Northrop Frye at the University of Toronto, David Gilmour began his career in 1980 as managing editor of the Toronto International Film Festival (né the Festival of Festivals); he worked there for four years. A decade later, he began hosting his own program on CBC Newsworld, Gilmour on the Arts, which won a Gemini Award in 1997. That’s when he left broadcasting to write full time. In 2000, he received his first Trillium Book Award nomination for his best-selling Lost Between Houses. Later, he won two gold National Magazine Awards for his Walrus essay “My Life with Tolstoy.” In his memoir The Film Club, which was a best-seller in Germany, Brazil, and Canada, Gilmour documented his reasons (and conditions, including the weekly viewing of three films) for letting his fifteen-year-old son drop out of high school. He currently teaches literary studies at the University of Toronto’s Victoria College.

Joseph MacKinnon: Has the validation of this Trillium nomination changed your self-perception as a writer?

David Gilmour: No, not at all. If you set your standards by these things, you’ll be a wild-eyed, embittered alcoholic within a few short years.

Joseph MacKinnon: Your combined experience as a writer, teacher, and film critic has undoubtedly provided you with some insights into writing dos and don’ts. What patterns of behaviour or thinking would you caution would-be writers against? What writing rituals do you find personally enabling or helpful?

David Gilmour: I have only one word for writers: Persist. If you pressed me for more, I’d say never read reviews, even good ones, and rewrite, rewrite, and then rewrite some more.

Joseph MacKinnon: Is it important to pursue other interests and activities sidelong to your literary endeavours to keep your writing fresh? What are your preferred alternatives?

David Gilmour: I avoid the company of other writers. That’s a full-time job. (more…)

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Sharp Corner, Pt. II

A homeowner witnesses three separate, brutal car crashes on his front lawn, and doesn’t want to admit that a part of him craves the rush each brings
cstoriesSharp CornerClick cover to purchasePt. I · II · III · IV · V

Download short fiction for any digital device. Visit walrusmagazine.com/cstories to learn more

John had approached the car gingerly, as if there were some need to treat the overturned vehicle gently. He could hear the exhaust system ticking as the metal cooled, the pace of the ticks slowing.

One of the teenagers left inside the car had been thrown upwards in virtually the same arc as the beer case. The stem of the rear-view mirror had taken out his left eye, but it didn’t matter. His neck was broken along the same angle as all the bottles.

The driver, meanwhile, met the steering wheel with his chest, the roof with his shoulder and the inside of the door with the ribs of his left side — except for his left arm, which flicked out through the broken window as if signalling a turn and then snapped as the car rolled smoothly over it. A Kleenex box and a dozen CDs had flown through the air, striking things and flying again. With the last thump, the glove compartment had burst open, vomiting paper and a windshield scraper and a spare house key that everyone in the owner’s family had been trying to find for months.

The first thing John noticed as he came down the driveway was how cleanly the tumbling vehicle had sheared off six of his seven maples. The mailbox post was snapped off at ground level. The mailbox itself, crushed, turned up underneath the car once it was finally moved.

In the minutes before the emergency crews arrived — Mary had called 911, standing in the front window like a black cut-out of herself — John decided both of the teenagers in the car had to be dead. He was wrong. The driver survived, as did the passenger from the back seat, the passenger who had popped out through the back window after the glass burst away and who had flown, wingless, to crumple in the grass.

John stood rooted in one spot when the fire trucks arrived, stunned by the lights and the noise and the rapid, clipped motion of the firefighters. He was still standing in the same place when the police, finished with their brief investigation, their measurements and photographs, stopped traffic in both directions so the wrecker, parked square across the road, could stand the vehicle back on its wheels, drag it back onto the road and haul the wreck away.

It seemed like it was over in minutes, but Mary told him he had been outdoors for more than an hour and a half. That was all she said. After that, she didn’t want to talk about it anymore. (more…)

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The Trillium 25 Interview: Kristen den Hartog

A Q&A with the author of And Me Among Them
Kristen den HartogSara Angelucci
And Me Among ThemFreehand BooksThe Walrus Foundation joins the Ontario Media Development Corporation in celebrating the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Trillium Book Award, Ontario’s leading literary prize. At walrusmagazine.com/trillium, we’ve grouped the finalists for the 2012 Trillium Book Award and the Trillium Book Award for Poetry alongside a select collection of past winners and Walrus contributors, including Margaret Atwood, Austin Clarke, Thomas King, and Karen Solie. Here on The Walrus Blog, we are publishing a series of written interviews with this year’s English-language contenders.

Born: Deep River, Ontario

Resides: Toronto, Ontario

Trillium Book Award–nominated work: And Me Among Them (2011)

Other notable works: Water Wings (2001), The Perpetual Ending (2003), Origin of Haloes (2005), The Occupied Garden: A Family Memoir of War-Torn Holland (2009)

Biography: Growing up along the Ottawa River, Kristen den Hartog would often copy her sister Tracy Kasaboski’s stories and put her own dramatic spin on them. This was both symptomatic and catalytic of her desire to write creatively. Her second novel, The Perpetual Ending, was a finalist at the Toronto Book Awards in 2003. The Occupied Garden, a work of non-fiction that she co-authored with Kasaboski, investigates the lives of their father’s family during World War II. den Hartog, a self-professed “perpetual” amateur knitter, lives in Toronto with her husband, visual artist Jeff Winch, and their daughter.


Joseph MacKinnon: Since childhood, you have engaged your sister Tracy in your writing process and collaborated with her on certain projects. Has your methodology and approach changed over time? For instance, while writing, do you find it helpful to conference ideas with her, or do you now treat writing as a solitary craft?

Kristen den Hartog: Tracy is my oldest sister (there are three of us), and as a child I always admired her ability to make stories appear from the typewriter. I used to copy her rather melodramatic ideas and change the names, and add more dead people that got buried in backyards. (As if her three or four weren’t enough.) Years later, as grown-ups, we decided to collaborate on a family memoir. It was both personally and professionally rewarding, so much so that we’ve decided to do it again, this time about our mom’s family in WWI[-era] England. My process for these books is much different than for my novels, and I enjoy that shift, the collaborative aspect. Tracy and I communicate mostly by email, and the few times we’ve tried to write in the same room have been pretty disastrous. But we have phone meetings regularly, and do research jaunts together, and that keeps us on track with each other. (more…)

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The Trillium 25 Interview: Tony Burgess

A Q&A with the author of Idaho Winter
Tony BurgessIan Willms
The Free WorldECW PressThe Walrus Foundation joins the Ontario Media Development Corporation in celebrating the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Trillium Book Award, Ontario’s leading literary prize. At walrusmagazine.com/trillium, we’ve grouped the finalists for the 2012 Trillium Book Award and the Trillium Book Award for Poetry alongside a select collection of past winners and Walrus contributors, including Margaret Atwood, Austin Clarke, Thomas King, and Karen Solie. Here on The Walrus Blog, we are publishing a series of written interviews with this year’s English-language contenders.

Resides: Stayner, Ontario

Trillium Book Award-nominated work: Idaho Winter (2011)

Selected additional works: The Hellmouths of Bewdley (1997), Pontypool Changes Everything (1998), Caesarea (1999), Fiction for Lovers: A Small Bouquet of Flesh, Fear, Larvae, and Love (2003), People Still Live in Cashtown Corners (2010), Ravenna Gets (2010); Pontypool (film, 2009)

Biography: Growing up in Mississauga, Ontario, Tony Burgess took an interest in punk music, which helped derail him from the straight and narrow. After watching A Clockwork Orange and Straight Time, he robbed a convenience store sporting one of his mother’s blouses — a stunt for which he served three months in a medium-security facility, with day passes to finish high school. Later, Burgess — then known as Tony Blue — became a regular on Toronto’s Queen Street West arts scene. He studied semiotics at the University of Toronto before publishing his first book, The Hellmouths of Bewdley, which was rife with stories both macabre and absurd. The next year, he moved to Wasaga Beach, Ontario, where he played Curly in the local theatre’s rendition of Oklahoma! In 2009, he turned his second book, Pontypool Changes Everything (1998), into a Genie Award–winning screenplay. He currently lives in what was once a funeral home with his wife of twelve years and their two children.

Related reading:Brother Grim” by Mark Medley (The Walrus, July/August 2011)


Joseph MacKinnon: Idaho Winter is a provocative read. The characters on its pages seem to exhibit an extra-literary volition and self-awareness. Could you tell us a little bit about the novel?

Tony Burgess: I hope people don’t read it as a book about being in a book, but rather a book where characters are encountering the same obstacles that we all do. As for what it’s about and what actually happens, I am not certain.

Joseph MacKinnon: How did you react to your Trillium nomination for Idaho Winter?

Tony Burgess: I was thrilled, of course. And a bit curious as to how this could happen. Then I laughed at an irony — this is my only book not set in an Ontario town.

Joseph MacKinnon: You’ve said before, “I’m obviously not anything like an A-list writer, nor somebody who’s going to get on Canada Reads.” Do you think this nomination is the CanLit scene’s way of proving you wrong?

Tony Burgess: The problem with answering questions like “How come you don’t win more at what you do?” is that they are not sensibly answerable. They make me feel like I just grabbed some kind of bait. I have always felt that in order to see my books as contributing to Canadian literature you would have to interpret them in some specific way, so the contribution isn’t apparent. Some people like my books very much and some people really don’t. I’m quite comfortable with that. I think that I misread this question — it’s not really about popularity after all, is it? It’s about a literary argument some people had behind closed doors — and that’s for the best, I think. (more…)

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Sharp Corner, Pt. I

A homeowner witnesses three separate, brutal car crashes on his front lawn, and doesn’t want to admit that a part of him craves the rush each brings
cstoriesSharp CornerClick cover to purchasePt. I · II · III · IV · V

Download short fiction for any digital device. Visit walrusmagazine.com/cstories to learn more

John thought of the sound as a soft, in-drawn breath, a breath that was always taken in that last single second before the other sounds came. He heard it right before the shriek of tires pulling sideways against their tread. John would hear the police use the word “yaw” for the striated mark left behind on the pavement, and he’d start building it into his own descriptions almost immediately. “When you see yaw, you know they were going too fast.” Just like that.

The tires made a shriek followed by the boxy thump of the car fetching up solid, side-on, in a crumpling great pile in the ditch.

Then, the horn — and often, screaming.

The mailbox at the end of the driveway had his last name, Eckers, in precisely placed stick-on block letters. It was John and Mary’s second mailbox this year. Along the front of the property he could still see the places where he had planted a regimented row of seven maples. Only one of the original trees remained, its leaves in late autumn blaze, and it was the tree down at the very edge of the property. The rest had been sheared off by a red Suzuki Sidekick, three teenagers and the unforgiving shallow turn in the road just at the end of the driveway.

“Three times?” other people would ask at parties, disbelief making their voices rise high at the ends of their sentences. “Cars have crashed three times right in front of your house?”

“Third time unlucky,” John would say wryly, as if the sentence had just occurred to him, as if it was a bitter turn of phrase that had sprung just then from quick personal reflection, and then he’d start talking about the sounds, the smells.

He had spent two days planting the trees — staking out the straight line, digging the holes, preparing the wet clay with buckets of topsoil so the trees would have at least a chance to get started and eventually grow into a stately line. He imagined the trees as much more than saplings, imagined Mary looking out the big front windows on the front of their bungalow, watching for the bright yellow of the school bus through the tightly woven leaves, waiting for it to pull to a stop. Every time, he imagined she had a dishcloth in her hands, imagined she was working the damp fabric around something as she stared out through the glass. The house was well back from the road, a small three-bedroom ranch, just one of dozens like it along the narrow highway. (more…)

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Moving House, Pt. V

A grandfather moves his house down a prairie road in the 1950s, only to be stopped by overhead telephone wires
cstoriesMoving HouseClick cover to purchasePt. I · II · III · IV · V

Download short fiction for any digital device. Visit walrusmagazine.com/cstories to learn more

In a couple of weeks the house was set in place, a new attic and roof added thanks to retired church members in the area. Retired from farming, not church, that is.

Grandma Trudy joined every church committee and refused to consider going back to the country to tend to whatever remained of her old garden.

I won’t give you any excuse, she said, pointing a Safeway carrot at Grandpa’s head one evening just before supper. Especially after cutting off the top of my precious house. Look at this place, it’s never going to be the same. The bottom half doesn’t match the top no matter what we do. We’re the laughing stock of the whole neighbourhood. The whole neighbourhood!

This happened after Grandma found out about what was wrong with Grandpa’s head. I thought she would be nicer to him but things seemed to go even worse. She even started to call him names. Grandpa stopped smiling.

The two of us went onto the porch in the back, but he didn’t feel like talking much. The neighbour’s house was forty feet away and he said the young married couple living there had big ears for Catholics.

But Grandpa did say he was dying to get back to the country so he could clear his mind a little. Grandma wouldn’t let him. Mainly he was supposed to sit on the couch and pop aspirin. But then he started getting pains up and down his arms and he went into the hospital for observation.

He wants to see you, Grandma told me later that afternoon. (more…)

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Moving House, Pt. IV

A grandfather moves his house down a prairie road in the 1950s, only to be stopped by overhead telephone wires
cstoriesMoving HouseClick cover to purchasePt. I · II · III · IV · V

Download short fiction for any digital device. Visit walrusmagazine.com/cstories to learn more

The hospital TV room soon became our second home. Day after day, prayer after prayer. People came from all over, some even as far away as Saskatoon and Regina.

In the meantime, Grandpa Albert couldn’t get much time with Frank alone. So he took me home and we walked out along the coulee looking for coyote tracks or wild strawberries, not saying much because Grandpa said, Hey, there’s not much we can say.

But I didn’t mind. The strawberries were sweet and the dog was fun to watch bouncing along on its three legs, pissing in gopher holes.

A week later the hospital phoned and said it finally, finally happened.

Grandpa Albert came into the living room and said, Well, that’s that.

After the funeral, which was held at Temple Baptist Church in town three days later, the preacher took Trudy aside and said, I think you’d benefit being closer to God.

Trudy looked at Grandpa trying to catch his breath walking up the stairs of the church and knew that moving to town, moving closer to the church, to the support of church-going people, might be the only thing that could save them. After all, she wanted Grandpa around in the afterlife too.

This brings us to the night of the fight, complete with the Bible throwing incident. You see, it started off innocently enough. Grandma made a great meal of venison, stewed with potatoes and sweet apples.

A lovely meal fit for a king, she said sweetly to Grandpa. (more…)

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