Anakana Schofield – Author of Bina, Martin John and Malarky

August 13, 2012

Quill & Quire front cover interview is live

This week the cover story interview I did for June’s Quill and Quire became available online.  Thank you to Q&Q for showing such faith in me and to Cheri Hanson for such a thoughtful article. Click on the photo below to read it.

 

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August 13, 2012

Golden Thursday

Thursday was a fantastic day. Katie Taylor took the Olympic gold medal in Women’s Boxing for Ireland and Seán Bán Breathnach expressed it like no other. Invoking the poets and presidents. Go hiontach ar fad!

The same day I learned I was on P22 of the Irish Echo talking about Malarky — a great day. Very special. I grew up on diaspora newspapers and the Readers Digest. (The Readers Digest in the US also wrote a lovely review of Malarky) Some years ago I traveled to the NYPL to look up the Irish Echo from 1963 specifically to read some community listings in the back of it. Why did I go that far? Because the paper was not available on microfiche or obtainable so if I wanted to see it, I had to go to NY. So it’s lovely to think that things have come the full circle. There’s something very Gertrude Stein about circles. More of them please!

I leave it to SBB.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dgMicT1GFaY&w=560&h=315]

 

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August 13, 2012

Last Night of the Proms weather updates

I am shockingly behind with weather events, of which there have been several.

The Last Night of The Proms style Thunderstorm immediately comes to mind. Very dramatic thunder and lightning, which myself and the small male (who’s taller than me now) delighted in. We love storms because we speculate the power will go out (it rarely does) and if we’re truly speculative we make flasks of water and boil the kettle. Once we even purchased storm friendly sushi! The Last Night of The Proms thunder event was followed by the Last Night of Proms monsoon rain event. Fantastic — have not seen monsoon rain like that since nearly 20 years ago in a monsoon rain event in Jakarta. It was so thrilling I may have to bring forward my plan to have the Japanese weather symbols tattooed upon me. I need my own personal forecast and thunder and rain seem apt.

Overall we are in a wonderful batch of long hot days that make for working outside and eating truckloads of blueberries and cherries.

I am hoping to build a balcony garden, gardening at the community garden (nothing hectic to report, except peas — this year I am merely gardening to make the bees happy),

Summer is wonderful. Amen.

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August 1, 2012

New collaboration goes live: “Rooms” in Boulderpavement

I am very pleased to share this. In June I was commissioned to write an original flash fiction piece for Boulderpavement I was given the theme dream.  In addtion I opted to collaborate with visual artist Jeremy Isao Speier on the piece.

I wanted the text to be completed or extended or responded to through images. It was a fascinating process.

Yesterday the piece went live and I am thrilled with the result. I was surprised at how lifted I was when I first saw the piece but I think in part it came from the sensation of creating work again and seeing it realize itself and the wider scope that’s possible with collaboration.

To read “Rooms” please visit http://boulderpavement.ca/issue007/rooms/

I thank Boulderpavement and the Banff Centre Press for this opportunity.

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July 21, 2012

Malarky invited to Wordstock Portland Book Festival

I was delighted to hear the news I have been invited to Wordstock the Portland Book Festival in the Fall. I am excited to visit Portland as I’ve never been.

Thank you indeed to Wordstock for the invitation.

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July 21, 2012

In the Bog 2012

A great day’s work today in the bog helping my mother bring in the turf or at least some steps in the process to bring up the turf.

We stacked turf and made reckles the four of us and joked and had a bit of craic.

The rain stayed off til we’d done what we could manage. It’s backbreaking but peaceful work. I love the small purple flowers in the heather with their tiny bells hanging off them and the details in the sods.

Nephin mountain borders that bog, like I said it’s ever so peaceful out there. No nicer place to work, no matter how hard it can be physically it’s somehow twice as rewarding. We may return again in the morning and carry on if the weather holds, but I suspect it won’t.

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July 18, 2012

Baile Atha Claith

I am having a splendid time navigating the weather in Dublin — patchy drizzles, intermittent downpours, essentially constant rain until this morning, when hark ye Sun!  I hardly knew how to behave until by 8pm wandering past the GAA ground in Cabra big, fat raindrops recommenced and pounded my cardigan.

You cannot but admire the consistency.

Minutes ago there was a bout of howling wind. Actual howling wind. I am humbled by its appearance in July.

The weather is the top topic here and you can be assured of a discussion about it with anyone whose breathing. Hark it howls again. I am weathery made up. Yesterday though I was weathery dismal. The company exceeds all of the above. Warm beyond warm and so familiar.

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July 10, 2012

Hot Spot!

The wave of heat has been with us for two days and we are delighted with it. Welcome heat. Welcome wave. It’s a particularly good combination because at night the temperate falls and it’s not unbearable.

Or it may be the case that we are simply defrosting from the past six months of chilly puddling and therefore cannot gain any actual sense of the temperature because we’ve been so frozen. Who would actually know at this point what’s unbearably hot as we’ve become fluent in unbearably overcast.

Yesterday (Sunday) it was scorching at 4pm. I gave thanks and scorched along with it.

My only concern now is that of thunderstorms and what they lead to — the dreadful forest fires.

Sources tell me there was an hour long discussion on BC Almanac on the weather today. I am ashamed to say I missed it. Such is the nature of my present life my weather forecasting or weather watching has been derailed.

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July 8, 2012

Malarky selected for Amazon Best Books of 2012 So Far list in 2 categories

This week or Friday gone, Amazon.ca announced it’s Best Books of the Year So Far list and Malarky was selected in 2 categories! Given there are only 10 spots in each category that was a coup.

It was happy days to be listed alongside Tamara Faith Berger’s novel Maidenhead (also in 2 categories) as our books speak to something in between them. Perhaps the assumptions made about women’s sexuality. I read with Tamara in March at VPL (along with Ben Wood whose novel is also listed) and enjoyed her company and our discussions greatly.

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July 8, 2012

This week I have read some of the most unambitious meanderings in a long time on literature, I’ll save you from them. Except to say language is certainly the way to go! And I commit to going even further with language! We need to move beyond middle brow expectations of story and prescription in the novel. What century is this again?!  Form needs to reflect the undulations of the ordinary, daily life, the mind, the moment, this moment not stand back from it safely framing and merely dabbing calculated light on the traffic and trees around it and getting the reader up the hill to the next set of traffic lights. Enough of the linear, enough of the expected. Ideas and interrogation please. A literary work needs to be considered within its context not co-opted sideways to that which is not its concern and that which is already to be found plentifully in the myriad of mystery novels and middle brow fiction.

I could have engaged more with the various debates, but was very caught up thinking about Robert Walser’s use of tone in The Assistant and have been so struck by the image of his own death in the field finish. I reread Coetzee’s essay on Walser and was particularly galvanized by this paragraph:

“All his prose pieces, he suggested in retrospect, might be read as chapters in “a long, plotless, realistic story,” a “cut up or disjoined book of the self [Ich-Buch].”

Also, Little Star Journal have blogged some considerings on Christopher Middleton’s Thirty Poems of Robert Walser. Read it here

Finally the other thing that’s consumed me this week are thoughts of creating small living spaces within small living spaces. I came across a wonderful structure in a coffee shop Moii on Cambie near Broadway. Go and visit it. It’s a tiny tiny room within the coffee shop that an artist/media artist with an interest in industrial design built for her final project at Emily Carr. I want to learn to build walls and try to up my output from the Japanese hand saw with the green handle. I am convinced that being short will help realize this small space creation because the walls do not need to be so high to house me.

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July 5, 2012

Fennel-ville

I had good fortune yesterday. I went in search of plants on a whim and the place I went to was giving them away for free as they were on the turn, or certainly headed that way. They were also a motley crowd. Very odd plants that I will have to google or just wait to see if they survive.

I took my clogs to my sad plot at the community garden and heaved a few of my rambling strawberry plants, attacked the invasive buttercups and basically lashed the new friends into the ground. On account of being the single person in Canada who cannot grow fennel, I took as many fennel starts as I could fit into my tray.

If after this effort no fennel survives I will take to the podium as the lone person who cannot grow fennel. Heck I see people everyone trying not to grow fennel, growing it.

Why you may ask would you want to so desperately grow fennel? Because I have two hefty pudding sized guinea pigs who would eat an acre of it. I think fennel is catnip to a guinea pig. They nearly do a dance when I feed them it.

Guinea pigs if you’re wondering are a great source of consolation. Need some consoling? Adopt a guinea pig or two. Or learn the cello. Or knit.

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July 4, 2012

San Francisco Chronicle publishes excellent, insightful review praising Malarky

A piece of criticism is required to be an engaging piece of writing in its own right. Increasingly reviews are devoid of ideas and the frames of reference have become painfully narrow, such engagement is only to be found in the longer form essay or critique. 

The San Francisco Chronicle published a review in their Sunday edition (July 3, 2012) that not only strongly praises Malarky but more importantly considers it and considers it coherently. And even more significantly the review, even within the confines of today’s newspaper word counts, manages to contain ideas.

“Malarky” is very much a book about sexuality and sexual frustration, but it is more fundamentally about the blinkers life puts on a person. Smart and absurdly proactive as Our Woman can be, she remains unable to see certain parts of herself or push through the illusions that her marriage has taught her. Schofield brings in a clearly political element when these illusions pertain to her soldier son, yet, throughout, “Malarky” makes a more subtle critique: failing to see past the margins of one’s understandings invites a failure of the imagination that hurts those you love, or attempt to.

Potent and fresh as this is, “Malarky” becomes truly compelling when Our Woman embodies an existential strangeness. In certain moments, we are not so far from Beckett’s Molloy – Our Woman comes close to enlivening not only the political and the personal but also the human.

Click here to read Scott Esposito’s San Francisco Chronicle review.

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July 4, 2012

Raining curtains

There was a major rain event at around 2am when the sensible people were asleep. It lasted several hours and I have titled it the curtain rain event. It was literally raining curtains out there. Thick and heavy curtain sized sheets of it pouring down from the sky. It was so loud I opened the window! I had to. I actually had to contemplate it.

The rain always wakes me up if it is of such a powerful consistency. I was reading the Blueberry Farmers are concerned the weather is going to do in the blueberry crop. The weather has become such a local talking point which naturally enough pleases me since I wish we’d contemplate it whether it’s good, bad or indifferent.

The rumour is that it’s going to brighten up tomorrow, but currently it’s resumed the rain sonata out there.

 

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July 1, 2012

Malarky, CBC 10 Writers to Watch and ruminations on the dentist’s chaise

I continue to receive lovely messages and responses from readers about Malarky. Thank you very much for them. The poets have been very good to me as well, sending such strong, generous responses and engaging with my novel. Thank you. It is so heartening to read of this engagement.

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Thank you to the CBC who today included me in a list of 10 writers to watch. I did chuckle at the word watch since I am perpetually losing my glasses in what amounts to a very small living space and should certainly be watched for my demonstrated ability not to put the folded laundry away and tendency to topple over in public places.

Another thing that struck me was where are the lists of the writers who have stuck around? I may have to compile one.

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My dentist also put a “watch” on two of my teeth recently. I was at the dentist this week and had quite a knee wrapping experience. It was cold in the room, see my post on weather blues. The staff are so kind at my dentist, one woman asked: Would you like a blanket? I told her I’d love a blanket and she took off into a cupboard.

She came back and handed me the identical blanket that I had as a baby in 1971 and I happily wrapped it around myself and settled back for the drilling. I have to say, unrelated, but it was one of my better performances in the dentist’s chair. I am an awful, terrified patient, who is fortunate to have found the most patient dentist on this planet.

“Anaesthetic is our friend” he says quietly, talking me through what amounts to one of the most awful parts of dentistry for me that enormous needle powering into my gum. My dentist is so smart. He’s figured out if he talks and offers words I protest less. He literally could be speaking Russian it wouldn’t matter. My poor brain just needs to hear something to blot out the horrible images it manages to conjure in these situations. Very glad the CBC list of writers to watch does not take place in the dentist’s chair.

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July 1, 2012

Weather diaries, George & planting

I’ve just discovered, thanks to my partner Jeremy, the Weather Diaries of film maker George Kuchar. Joy!

Not inconveniently I am enduring a period of immense challenge with our current West Coast weather. I saw the Flowerman on the road today and he conveyed his despair over the weather and his plans to usurp his current arrangement in his plot at the community garden. He generously reconfigured some of his great plants along the communal sides of our garden and I was struck by them as I left the garden the other day. He really is an extraordinary and generous gardener.  I sometimes imagine all of the people who receive immense joy from his efforts.  He gave me some advice on seeds… apparently I am planting them way too deep because everything should germinate in this weather and basically in my much neglected plot very little has germinated.

Mme Beespeaker gave me some bee friendly plants, but so far not much luck in them popping up, likely because I messed up some of the planting. Repeat! Repeat seeding will be required! Not too worry am wiser now.

One great aspect of this decling weather situation is the planning. When it’s pouring rain, a la aujourd ‘hui, my community garden plot can’t flourish beyond not having to water it, so I begin plotting how I’ll move the strawberry plants once the fruits are finished (And boyo they have been fantastic this year) to the sides and then plant some vegetable starts and hope we are lucky with some sun before September. The Flowerman and I shared our “plans” in the rain today.

As I type this I’ve been listening to a video interview with George Kuchar (RIP 1942-2011), right now he’s joking about his eyebrows, but earlier he talked about his fascination with twisters and how the internet more than provided for his weather watching needs in that regard.

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There has been some astonishing flooding as the Fraser River gave it up in Sicamouse (sp?) and some truly horrific forest fires in Colorado. I took a peek at the Fraser out in New West last week and it was high(er) and swirly.  I would love some day to write a novel about or around that river. I have developed quite an affection for the small parts I’ve come to know of it.

There was also concurrent flooding epsiodes in Belfast and Cork. Cork has previously been hit very badly by flashfoods and this last round seemed to come on so fast. A weather forecast, yes, but bam! Floods like you wouldn’t believe. One spokesperson commented it was impossible to be prepared. The wonder of rain, ne c’est pas?

 

 

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June 28, 2012

Largehearted Boy: Book Notes: a musical walk through Malarky

Here is one of the most unique and rewarding forays I have undertaken with Malarky. Thank you to David John Gutowski @ Largehearted Boy for inviting me to participate in his excellent cross-disciplinary Book Notes series:

In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published book.

Previous contributors include Bret Easton Ellis, Kate Christensen, Kevin Brockmeier, George Pelecanos, Dana Spiotta, Amy Bloom, David Peace, Myla Goldberg, Heidi Julavits, Hari Kunzru, and many others.

Anakana Schofield’s Malarky is a brilliant debut novel that depicts one woman’s descent into madness with dark humor and an intimate eye for grief and sorrow.

The Montreal Gazette wrote of the book:

“Toeing the delicate line between tragedy and comedy – the former inherent in the bare facts of Our Woman’s life, the latter in her irrepressible voice – Schofield starts at a pitch of inspiration most novels are lucky to reach at any point and remarkably sustains that level all the way through.”

 


In her own words, here is Anakana Schofield’s Book Notes music playlist for her debut novel, Malarky:

(The playlist has embedded youtube videos of the music )

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June 23, 2012

Profile in today’s National Post

In today’s National Post Books there’s a profile on me: Thank you to Mark Medley who wrote such a lively piece.

Pluck of the Irish: Anakana Schofield’s debut is one of the season’s best reads

When Anakana Schofield was 24 years old, she got braces. A recent theatre school graduate, the aspiring actress coped with a mouthful of metal by picking up a video camera and recording the experience. The resulting half-hour documentary, Bracism, aired on RTE.

“It was like reality TV, way, way before there was actually a thing,” recalls Schofield, now 41, during an interview in a Toronto café last month. “For years afterwards, I’d be in the bank, or I’d be on the train, and somebody would say, ‘I saw your program on the telly! You’re the girl that made the one about the teeth!’

“I’m very interested in documentary,” she continues. “I’m interested in social anthropology as well. Fiction, for me, is [a] departure … I’m interested in making s–t up, basically, and this is the place to do it.”
Related

Malarky, Schofield’s wonderfully deranged debut novel, marries her interests in realism and invention with great results. It tells the story of “Our Woman,” also known as Philomena, an aging farmer’s wife who is slowly coming apart at the seams. The simple life she leads in County Mayo, Ireland, is first threatened then shattered by myriad events: her son’s homosexuality, her husband’s philandering ways, her own sexual awakening, and, eventually, the deaths of both her son and husband.

“From a marketing department’s point of view, this is not a dream book,” she deadpans. Yet, “I have great faith in readers,” she adds. “I’m interested in what the novel can become. We know what it can be — the linear, chronological. As a reader I’m ambitious. And I want to see new things.”

To read the entire profile click here 

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June 23, 2012

Lost sneeze weather

Today a darkening series of rainclouds closed in on us over several hours until they finally conceded to burst their banks. But the waiting was like missing a sneeze that kept threatening return. Except there was no light to entice it with! (If you miss a sneeze, look at the light so the saying goes)

At the pet shop (guinea pig hay supplies) the woman behind the counter compared notes with me on how she had processed the darkness according to her working day. I looked out thought it must be 7pm,  it wasn’t yet 3 she said.

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June 21, 2012

Malarky Little Star miracle

What an incredible joy and privilege today to sit alongside the work of these extraordinary writers and poets featured on the website/blog of Little Star Journal, who have extracted a chunk of Malarky today and had this reckoning on it:

“Move over Molly Bloom, Anakana Schofield has mastered the hundreds of voices that make up one person, and the negotiations, confusions, and occasional consolations that transpire among them. Her story of an extraordinary/ordinary mother and how she lost her beloved son is a journey into the heart of love and the fragile bonds of the self.”

The gesture behind the establishment and ongoing work of Little Star is a firm nod to the importance of the continuum in literature and the moments behind us and ahead of us and hidden from us therein: especially the moments in translation that we so often foolishly ignore.

Malarky is a book concerned with moments. I think all writers and readers have their moments with a book. Sometimes they can be hard or disappointing or challenging. I certainly had many of those over the past decade.  Today is one of my happiest moments.

To read click A miracle from Anakana Schofield

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June 20, 2012

Walser

I have had a merry old time enjoying cross-country/international commiserations on the weather and reading Mr Robert Walser’s The Assistant. (Translated by Susan Bernofsky)

“…lets not allow ourselves to get too worked up over such a woman finding such a young man odd, but rather report on their conversation.”

I shall later offer a snip from Walser’s take on the weather that’s particularly dotey.

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