Anakana Schofield – Author of Martin John and Malarky

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

Malarky: “reminiscent of Under Milk Wood”

Thank you to JC Sutcliffe at Slightly Bookist for taking precious time to engage with and excavate Malarky.

In her review she remarks:

This doesn’t mention the grief that is stamped through the novel like the writing in a stick of rock, nor the fact that the narrative jumps around in time to make sure that the reader never gets too complacent, too comfortable in a particular emotion. Characters are dead, then alive, the dead again, which plays nicely with our internalised propriety that makes us shy away from speaking ill of the dead.

If all this talk of death makes Malarky sound bleak, it is anything but. It’s a glorious, breathless romp through the mind of an immensely likeable woman, a book reminiscent of Under Milk Wood in the beautiful and unexpected cadences of the writing.

Click the above to read the entire piece.

The Rover/Rover Arts review Malarky

I clang pans very loudly in appreciation for the careful reading of Malarky and lovely review by Elise Moser in The Rover (An Independent review of art and culture) out of Montreal.

Here’s an extract:

This is a brilliant book. Finely drawn, deceptively muscular, and pulsing with warm intelligence and wit, it offers a reprieve from despair no less profound for coming very much at the last moment.

 

Malarky is studded with fabulous sentences. Page after page, the reader is thrilled by vivid turns of phrase like whiffs of ammonia that tunnel up into the brain with a pungent combination of discomfort and unexpected pleasure. Anakana Schofield’s language carries the sharpness of Irish speech; she uses it to reveal the incisive powers of observation with which our heroine carves her perceptions of the ordinary life around her, and excavates the truths – emotional and practical — that the world tries to keep buried.

 

Read the entire review here.

 

 

 

Tyee Summer Reads list includes Malarky

A dapper mention in The Tyee for Malarky chosen as one of their Summer Reads picks in a fine radical list of books. What a nifty write-up.

A book to read while spending that week at the cottage with your relatives you always thought were a bit, um, off.

 

Malarky by Anakana Schofield (bibilioasis)

 

Vancouver author Schofield’s much lauded debut novel employs a bluntly pragmatic first person voice in explicating the gradual psychic unraveling of an Irish middle-aged woman. The language is funny one moment, forensic the next, but just when the book begins to feel a small gem of internal monologue, you realize its about everyone in the world who is driven a little or a lot crazy by their culture’s repressive notions of sexuality, identity and proper behaviour. In other words, read Malarky to either understand how your cottage-sharing relatives got that way, or to see them as not being as screwed up as you thought they were.

Click here to read all the selections (including some good local picks like Davie Street Translations by Daniel Zomparelli)

Flare Magazine select Malarky as one of their 5 Summer Hot Picks

Thank you so much to Flare Magazine who selected Malarky as one of their 5 Summer Hot Picks.

You’ll note they selected it alongside 50 Shades of Six Million Copies. I am fairly confident that my dubious sex in Malarky is far more satisfying for women readers and I welcome all 6 Million of them to read Malarky as soon as possible and then dispute this assertion in the comments section below. I shall happily atone once the millions report back.

 

 

On the road with Malarky: Malarky roadie

I have been away on the road with Malarky, so apologies for the interrupted weather forecasts and meanderings. Thank you so much to everyone who came out to Bolen Books in Victoria, Elliot Bay Book Company in Seattle and Village Books in Bellingham.

The highlight for me was at the Seattle launch when 10-yr-old Willie Bays, on his flute, played traditional Irish music (trad) with his mother Susan on fiddle. A mighty player and together they played a mighty set. Go raibh mile to them both.

Also, am enormously grateful for the enthusiasm and warmth of booksellers Robert, Casey and Claire (in store order respectively). Most impressed with the woodwork in many of these shops and the array of jigsaw puzzles that surrounded the reading area at Bolen Books. (including one of a teapot)

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What about the weather event at Union Station in Toronto yesterday? A bathtub rainfall event! We were grim on this coast around the same time, but I had to shift my overcast sulking when I saw what had been dealt to the floor at Union. A spot I stood but two weeks ago and imagined doing a cozy waltz around (if I could manage such a thing).

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In gardening news I am a disgrace. Officially flagged a green one. Some mysterious objecter has plunged a bamboo pole into my plot with green masking tape on it to alert … I am not sure whom. Not the Mason Bees who were happily mining in my strawberry patch today. Thank you to the gardeners who offered help for my beleagured plot and added soil to it in my absence.

The Flowerman has the most magnificent Pink Poppies. They have to be capitalized they are such stunners. He also generously added some manure to my plot and consequently the purple geranium has gone nuclear in size and I think has made for happy bees.

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Profuse thanks to all who have read/are reading Malarky and have tweeted or written about it. Lovely to hear of this happening. A book is nothing without readers. I have great faith in readers and it grows deeper by the day.

Quill & Quire June 2012

Irish Voice & Irish Central review Malarky as “most distinctive novel of its kind in a decade.”

Thank you to Cahir O’Doherty who reviewed Malarky over at Irish Central and in print in the Irish Voice: (click on the extract below to read the whole review). I am glad he made the point about working class Irish female eccentrics, I painfully felt their absence from literature and hence wrote (after considerable struggle) Malarky.

Anakana Schofield: Sledging Sentences

Today over at the Afterword (National Post Book Blog) is my final post as Guest Editor. Click on the extract below to read the whole piece.

I have recently commenced learning to play sledge hockey and am curious to see whether this additional sport in my sporting arsenal will influence my prose.

Several writers come to mind for whom sport plays or played a significant part in their lives: Angie Abdou about to run from Montreal to New York, Michael Collins and his arctic marathon running, Haruki Murakami and what he knows about running, Albert Camus and his goalkeeping, George Bowering and baseball, Helen Potrebenko and her gold medal win at the Senior Games for softball, Lori Emerson e-lit expert and competitive amateur cyclist. (Expand this list by all means in the comments section.)

My other weekly sporting indulgence is adult gymnastics (I should admit to a stagnant level of progress over the past two years and a great deal of chatting). I had not practised gymnastics for 25 years when I recommenced the sport on a Wednesday night several years ago. But as a child it was the single most important thing I did.

I returned to it because I considered that within it lay the foundations of my beginnings as a writer. The repetition, the lines, the discipline, the pain and despair. I think I returned because I couldn’t find that same satisfaction in any other form of exercise and was equally frustrated and dwindling on the page.

Anakana Schofield: Mobile Reading

My third blog as guest editor this week of the Afterword, the National Post books blog. (Click on text to read the entire piece)

Many of us visit places in literature that we may never set foot in. I have a strange habit of visiting literature as I set my foot down. Walking and reading. Initially I had some problems with my inner ear and was advised to repeatedly do the things that made me dizzy in order to retrain my brain.

I was an occasional walker and reader, however with this inner ear problem it now made me dizzy, thus I took up long walks with a book in hand and copious amounts of vacuuming (which also made me dizzy).

Once my inner ear generously righted itself, I found another handy employment for the combined art of walking and reading. I did not own a car and had a small child to move around. The bus routes did not always suit us, nor did the shelling out for transit. He loved stories and I knew I could easily walk him five or ten or thirty blocks without protest if I read to him. Hence we crossed Vancouver neighbourhoods to the dulcet tones of six of Arthur Ransome’s sailing novels and hiked up and down to the park reading every volume of Le Petit Nicolas.

 

Anakana Schofield: Reading Out

Here is my second blog  as guest editor of Afterword the National Post books blog. (Click the extract to read the whole piece)

 

I’ve been thinking an awful lot about reading lately and specifically about the ways in which we can read and the forms of reading that newer technology affords us.

We are living at a time when access to and the variety of literature has never been so immediate for many of us. (To gain an understanding of what it is like not to have access to literature see Doris Lessing’s 2007 Nobel lecture, “On Not Winning the Nobel Prize.”)

I have long possessed an innate and unpredictable curiosity which has resulted in either a peripatetic or patchy approach (depending on your point of view) to reading. Increasingly I see reading (when a text engages me) as a collage that includes not just the current book itself but what comes through this work from previous readings of other books and where may I read out from this work, or back to this work.

The access facilitated by technology allows us a wider immediacy in our reading. We can read books beside each other or between each other. We can read them for a paragraph or we can read them for the long exhale. This affords us much more of a sense of a continuum with and of our literature, and this is especially important when considering a local or a national literature.

What came before, what’s coming now and what has yet to come, and how all of these things sit beside each other or whether they do or not, is (for me) a salient thinking and departure point.

Guest Editor National Post Afterword: Feeling Tired

All this week I have been guest editing Afterword the National Post book blog.

My first piece published on Monday was titled Feeling Tired: (click on the extract to read the entire piece)

When I re-read my novel Malarky I see that for all the sex and sadness in it, it really is a personal plea to be better at baking and to feel less tired.

The main character in Malarky — “Our Woman” — does not feel as tired as I do. She is a great deal perkier. If I try to think of a novel with a character as tired as I feel, I draw a blank. The best I can come up with is Laura Hillenbrand’s incredible New Yorker essay depicting her life with chronic fatigue.

Tiredness is a strange old mist. So is sleep deprivation. Even more puzzling is insomnia, given it strikes when you are, well, already tired.

Malarky Guelph Launch and radio interview

Tomorrow, Monday May 14, 2012 at 7pm at the Bookshelf in Guelph Ontario I will be reading from Malarky, along with poets Kim Jernigan, Alex Boyd and Argentinian writer Liliana Heker.

Last Thursday I spoke to Dan Evans on the Books for Breakfast radio show: you can hear the interview here (it is in the last 15 mins of the programme. It was a lively and engaging interview, which I very much enjoyed.

Open Book Ontario May contribution

This month I was one of 9 writers, who contributed to a blog posting on the question of how reading influences our own fiction over at Open Book Ontario.

Here’s my contribution: click on it to read the entire blog and all the contributions.

How does reading other writers of fiction inform your work?

The act of reading is more important to me than the act of writing. Reading fiction is central to my daily literary-vascular system, if you like, providing the nutrients that feed my chronic percolation and interrogation. Though reading criticism and non-fiction are also part of my brew.

I wish there was a machine, like the one that measures earthquakes, one could attach to each ear lobe which as you read would produce a graph that recorded where in the brain the words had nestled. Then in turn, when you wrote the same ear probe would record and transcribe which area of the brain was being drawn on. Until that time, I can but speculate. I speculate the reading of poetry, fiction, criticism, and non-fiction all equally inform my work. The combination of ingesting all four satisfies my primary need for departure points.

I’m always after departure points: wondering, wandering and churning. I have a hearty appetite for what many might consider redundant information! If my curiosity is piqued in a particular title/writer or topic or fleeting notion I will high tail it to a bookshop or library (in the dark if necessary) to find the work, right now, as in 5 minutes ago.

As a writer and a reader I’m happy to paddle with uncertainty. I’m constantly perplexed and puzzled and questioning. Departure points come in all kinds of forms, thus they aren’t necessarily delivered by being satisfied. Dissatisfaction can be a great springboard.

When we read for the moment or the paragraph, rather than the whole we also do not demand that every piece of literature serve the same purpose or hit the single high note. I enjoy collaging paragraphs or sentences from different works that speak to each other. This is especially true and necessary in a local literature.

Publishing has become a very singular act, but reading will never be that. Reading demands plurality, it’s hungry, it wants more flavour, more thought, more pages, other pages, the other’s pages. I have great faith in readers and we’re living in a time when readers are ambitious, embracing technology and engaging with a literary evolution where the novel may become a portal to a new media blend of varied art forms. I’m right in there with the best of them, clicking, swiping and still bending the corners of the faithful page.

Malarky interview on CBC North by North West

I was recently interviewed most thoughtfully by Sheryl Mackay on her CBC radio show North by North West, the extended interview is now available for online listening and can be found by clicking below: 

CBC.ca | North by Northwest | Author Anakana Schofield – “Malarky”.

The Longest Chapter: A stunning engagement with Malarky

Kassie Rose, an NPR book critic, has written a stundering understanding and contemplation of Malarky at the Longest Chapter. It is an engagement with and a reading of the book that actively humbles me because of the degree of thought invested in it. Please read it.

The latter third of Malarky, by virtue of the fragmented form practically overlaying the prose and the prose responding to that form further, requires attentive reading.  The prose refuses to oblige neatly. Instead it unremittingly mimics Our Woman’s state of mind and flux. This demands of the reader, it demands they go beyond what the earlier parts of the book offered more comfortably and it’s precisely at this point in the book some reviewers have disengaged. I find this curious, mostly, because this is where the engagement with the overall form becomes rewarding. And it’s where the more ambitious writing in the book shows up!

In Kassie Rose’s read/critique of the book rather than disengage she upped her already considerable engagement and sewed the whole thing together! Truly remarkable. Reminds me of something way more important than writing and that is the importance of ambition in my own reading.

Below is the final paragraph from the review: click it and read the entire piece. It’s an amazing engagement with my book. I hope such ambition infests me in my own reading.

And so it gets back to those last lines. When we reach them, everything comes full circle, especially regarding something Philomena says in the first episode: “If you are a widow, be careful what you say. I think it’s why they started talking about Jimmy in the bank.” You won’t know what that bank reference means when you first read it, but you will, eventually, and it’s a stunning construct. Indeed, it all makes sense within this crazy-sad theater of a grieving mind that’s a forceful showcase for such things in life. Schofield’s brilliant storytelling in Malarky is among the most engaging I’ve ever encountered.

Raving: Georgia Straight reviews Malarky

Glad to read this close reading of Malarky by Michael Hingston in the Georgia Straight today. What I appreciate especially about this review is how the reviewer tuned into that latter third of Malarky. An astute read on the book indeed. I also like how the review commences in that third, refusing to chronicle in sequence, a piece that refuses to deliver in a chronological sequence.  (Review that responds to form? or reviews out from the book? )

I also enjoyed the headline:

Click on the extract to read in its entirety.

Anakana Schofield masters madness in Malarky

 

 

“Madness is one of fiction’s most enduring subjects, but it requires some finesse in order to be done justice. You can’t just push a character off the cliff of mental health and then catch up with them at the bottom. That’s cheap, and uninteresting besides. The real challenge is to document what happens to that person, second by second, on their way down—because no two falls are exactly the same.

This helps explain why Malarky, the debut novel from Anakana Schofield, an Irish-Canadian author and critic who calls Vancouver home, stands head and shoulders above many of its peers. And she’s got competition: in 2012 alone we’ve seen Ross Raisin’s Waterline, about the rapid self-destruction of a middle-aged Glaswegian widower, and Amelia Gray’s Threats, a chilling, stylized exercise in mood and faulty memory. Both of these books are very good, but Schofield’s is better.”

 

 

Winnipeg Free Press: Malarky is beautiful, brilliant, profound, poignant and comedic

Saturday was robust for Malarky and my book has been blessed with engagement and understanding for which I am grateful.

The Winnipeg Free-Press praised Malarky as “alternately beautiful, brilliant, profound, poignant and comedic work of literary fiction that seamlessly brings together many disparate themes and ideas.”

….

“Philomena’s love for Jimmy, the love of a mother for her son, is the central theme of this novel. But the book has much to ask and much to say about many other topics as well, among them empowerment through sex, loneliness in marriage, the futility of war, the strains of immigration and the margins of mental health.

Schofield’s ability to tie all these together in such an original, quirky, tender and eloquent way is to be commended…”

To read the rest of the review click here

Lovely review in National Post for Malarky

Very positive review in tomorrow’s National Post for Malarky: I was glad to see the words Castlebar and hiccups in a book review finally. I hope the Castlebar Library in Co Mayo will be stocking a copy of Malarky.

“Being plagued by hiccups while incarcerated at the psych ward of Castlebar hospital in northwest Ireland is just one of the many troubles of Phil (a.k.a. Philomena, Our Woman, and Kathleen), the distraught woman-on-the-verge at the centre of Malarky, a delightfully offbeat debut novel by Vancouver’s Anakana Schofield.

“Facing betrayal and bursts of chaotic libido from husband and child alike, Our Woman, by turns livid, raging, helpless, frustrated and confused (“confused being the polite local term for possessed”), seeks vengeance against an indifferent, philandering husband. Deciding she “wants to consume rather than be consumed,” Our Woman opts for some carnal adventuring of her own and — surprisingly — close mimicry of her son’s fevered explorations.”

Vancouver Sun reviews Malarky

Two very positive reviews for Malarky on this raining good reviews Friday:

The first in tomorrow’s Vancouver Sun (complete with garages and mad Dr Who woman-in-pipe pictures)

Malarky does a great job revealing emotional distress in straightforward (and graphic) language while using shifting time frames and narrators to develop the enormous complexity of grief, memory and mental collapse.  The novel is a challenging read, but for all the right reasons.

(Click on text above to read entire review)

Les Bazso/PNG

VANCOUVER, BC: APRIL 27, 2012 - - Anakana Schofield, author of a novel called Malarky in Vancouver on Thursday, April 27, 2012.      (Les Bazso,PostMedia)      (see Tracy Sherlock  story)

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