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Dear A-hole

Posted on Jul 5, 2016

(cross-posting from FB because I want easy access to this at all times. A letter to a stranger)   Dear A-hole, My tits did not arrive at the corner of Bloor and Huron as an invitation to the over-achieved ego you keep zipped into your massive testes sac. I will not “take it off” for you although the dazzle of the truth of it if I did would likely strike you dumb for the rest of your pitiable life. I am not sure which part of your inane comment and my reaction to it left you in the state of “leer grin” for half a block either but let me hope that the brief encounter you just had with a genuine goddess has somehow inoculated you and that you may actually rise up and reach a troglodyte level of existence, one that might serve you well in your lonely lonely life. To the rest of you. If you have ever said anything obnoxious to a woman about her body, even if it was just rude, or just a little bit out of line, even if it was five years ago, or twenty-five or fifty-five, take your fucking knuckle headed ego, scratch a little wound in it, and go and fucking apologize. Don’t say, “I apologize.” Pull out all the stops and say, “I am really fucking sorry. I am so totally fucking sorry. There is no excuse for my bad behaviour.” One more thing. There has been a lot of backlash about the so-called man-hating feminist. This backlash is wrong. Bring her back. I am so sick of pretending not to hate men when men consistently underperform. If these men were cars, they would long have been recalled. Please for the love of St Wilgefortis, stop being such complete and fucking ridiculous assholes. Sincerely,...

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Horny Little Capybaras

Posted on May 26, 2016

Horny Little Capybaras

Horny Little Capybaras by Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer In the years since she’d been dumped, the capybara problem had gotten so bad she couldn’t let Solomon out alone. Kristen went to the Mark’s Work Wearhouse on Keele and bought one of those fluorescent orange raincoats and a vest and then splurged on several pairs of fluorescent orange socks, because she was fashionable. She devoted herself—with significant resentment—to her new position as crossing guard at the corner of Bloor and Quebec, an unpaid, volunteer position she created for herself because it gave her an easy view of the park, which is where they lived, where they…scurried. The problem started six years earlier and was a direct result of a botched mating scheme on the part of a misguided zookeeper in High Park. On that day, mid-May if she recalled correctly, two horny little capybaras had escaped their enclosure and did precisely what you would expect from horny little capybaras. Cabybaras, if you don’t already know, can have up to eight live babies at a time. They mate in water, which in Kristen’s opinion was a little too porno, and was also, in her opinion, where the team of frantic conservationalists and capybara fanatics should probably have gone looking for them in the first place. Certainly, these days, the herd tended to languish down at the pond, or even further south, at the lake, gazing out to the horizon. That is to say, you could find them there if they weren’t marauding through the brush, whistling through their sexy noses at each other and reproducing. “They’re cute,” Sol had said to her that morning. “They are filth made manifest.” “Look at their adorable buck teeth.” “That never stop growing.” “Mum, I can walk to school on my own.” “No, Sol. No you can’t.” Kristen had basically taken it upon herself to (wo)man the entire route Solomon took to and from school—up Ellis, along Bloor, and down to Runnymede and then its reverse on the way home—and while he was safe and indoors, she stood guard for any kid needing safe passage along the park. It wasn’t unusual these days for capybara battalions to saunter up Bloor, making it impossible for traffic to penetrate. Someone had recently witnessed a group capybara love-in at the wading pool in the north end of park, and she had not been able to repress the visual of the description—thrashing water, nasal trills, and a crescendo of whiny culminations. Who knew rodents had such vibrant, noisy relations? She did not want Solomon or any other minor to be exposed to this. She looked up Quebec Street to discover a man in a trench coat coaxing five renegade capybaras away from the subway opening. “Scoot,” he said. “Scoot.” “Oh, brother,” she muttered, when she realized the man was Mel Cotton, aka Solomon’s dad, aka the last person on earth she ever wanted to see. She turned away and tried to look inconspicuous but it was too late. He’d seen her. “Kristen! Hey, nice to see you.” She hated his manipulative friendliness, his bon vivance, if that was a thing. “Oh, Mel, hi.” “They’re everywhere.” “Right?” “Breeding like flies.” Clichéd, she thought, but okay. “Yeah.” She preferred not to speak about breeding with Mel. “I’m patrolling the perimeter,” she said, and gestured to High Park. Mel nodded. “I wanted to be highly visible,” she added, suddenly self-conscious about her outfit. “You look good in highly visible attire,” Mel said. What was she supposed to say to that? She just stared, scrolling through options in her mind until the silence became awkward,...

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Fabulous Fabulism

Posted on Apr 27, 2016

Fabulous Fabulism

I spent last weekend at a Lacanian Conference in Colorado Springs—which is to say, I spent the weekend listening to the unconscious desires of a whole lot of theorists talking about things like: what is repressed when a symbolic leader is privileged, how love emerges in quiet ways, how silence can be radical (ask Bartleby the Scrivener), how an analyst listens for telling puns, since punning is a portal to the unconscious. My paper was about Robinson Crusoe talking to gold. I do not know what it is about the scene where Robinson pillages the useless money and hides it away deep in the novel for twenty-eight years, except that it is a fabulous moment, one that can’t quite be reckoned to the realist impulse most critics have attributed to the “novel.” This short paper is the tiny seed of a bigger project I will be working on for my dissertation—the long essay I am beginning to earn a PhD. Wish me luck. This is a topsy-turvy blogpost because I’m too tired to sort out the overarching connection among the things in it, and besides I am still dreaming my last night’s dream, about keys, and wanting to swim, and then dancing gloriously with my mother, both of us twirling. Here is a lovely wee article about fabulism that I enjoyed this morning. It’s about a purse which is really a portal. Maybe all metaphors are portals, I am thinking. Maybe language—itself metaphorical—is a portal. That’s a pretty Lacanian thought, after all. Sometime over the weekend, a book club sent me questions about All The Broken Things and I liked the tone of the Q&A so I asked them if I could post it to my blog (two for one!). I had hoped to Skype in (something I do for free when book clubs request a visit) but our timing did not work out, so I suggested they send me questions, if they had any. I will put it here, since it discusses fabulism and my interest in it: Bookclub: The time in High Park: we see the reference to the play Orpheus and Eurydice but it also has a feeling of magical realism – was this intentional? Me:  Yes, the line between the factually true and the fantastic or the fairytale is immensely interesting to me. In my first novel, The Nettle Spinner I was already developing a playful interaction along the border of the real and the not-quite-real. For this interest, my name has an entry in the Oxford Companion to Fairy Tales, edited by the fairy tale scholar, Jack Zipes. I am endlessly fascinated by the way that fairy tales convey meaning — by amplifying consequences for their protagonists etc. And I have always loved magic. It was always the intention with ATBT to tell the story through a fairy tale, or Romance, lens, and the use of the play was a way to connect the practice of storytelling (theatre) with the sort of truth one may find in a fairy tale. I am glad that you caught this! Bookclub: We all (for different reasons each) thought that Max was one of the most interesting characters in the story, what was your intention of Max’s role in the story? Me: Max is a strange villain, and in a way he is not really even a villain. It’s hard to talk about intention here because he literally just popped into the story one day while I was writing and I loved him so well that he had to stay. I had so much fun watching Max emerge out of my...

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Authors for Indies

Posted on Apr 20, 2016

Authors for Indies

Authors-for-Indies Time Again! If you are not familiar with this brilliant initiative, you can read about it here. Last year, I spent the day in three book venues, hand-selling books: Bloor West Book City, The University of Toronto Bookstore, and Type Books.     This year I’ll be handing out bad #writingtips on paper. These will be carefully selected from the 19 pages of egregious #writingtips I’ve been offering the public on twitter for the last two years. I solemnly promise you all that if you follow my advice you will end up happy and probably unpublished, which is a tautology. Here are a couple from the archive: Colons are messy business. #writingtips Hey you writerly mofos. Today, we are going to collectively rock that damn Casbah. #writingtips Take your foot out of your mouth. #writingtips Invite Marx into your heart. #writingtips My very first #writingtips was: I will begin by kissing all the words. #writingtips. I’ll be at Book City in Bloor West Village on April 30th, at 11 am, tea in hand, #writingtips in hand, smile in back pocket. Come!!!!!! Sign up for Kiki’s occasional newsletter...

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Hieronymus Bosch

Posted on Mar 27, 2016

Hieronymus Bosch

Hieronymus Bosch   Because I am extremely excited to be lucky enough to be going to the 500 year anniversary of Heironymous Bosch’s death in  ’s-Hertogenbosch in May, I have decided to let you read my most Boschian of stories. The story is called “Will You Staunch the Wound?” and was originally published on the app Storyville, where it has won the inaugural Sidney Prize for Fiction (and possibly last; I may have actually broken that prize). Here is an article about this amazing Bosch exhibit in Holland. And here is my story (I plan to take it down and leave a stub in a week, so enjoy while you can, and please do respect my copyright):   Will You Staunch the Wound? © 2016 Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer It used to be that you weren’t allowed to take the deadfall branches but either the rules have changed or else no one cares any more about the rules. There are dogs everywhere, too, and I can’t remember the last time I saw one on a leash. They just roam around, and you have to watch your back. Some of the gleaners call themselves survivalists and I’ve heard the new euphemism is eco-activist but really we are poor. It’s that some of us are self-consciously poor and some of us are just poor. In a good day, Robbie and I can cart thirty dollars worth of firewood, gathered from High Park, the Lakeshore and up through the Humber. We started this enterprise first with returnable bottles, but with the economy in its last plummet, the middle class got miserly. And as I said to Robbie, I’m not scrapping with a middle manager over an empty bottle of Chateau Neuf du Pape. Robbie is eleven. I located him in a doorwell on Dundas West. A halo of filthy blonde hair, and just enough naivety in his clear eyes, and I was a goner. He wasn’t a replacement child, if that’s what you’re thinking.   Two viruses—one electronic, one medical—had culled the city’s population. And anyone with expertise in any field, excepting the very brave and the very altruistic, had fled. There were, quite simply, fewer people. And more dogs, more of them rabid—it was not uncommon to see frothing, staggering mongrels anywhere in the city. Darwinism at work, I supposed. Robbie and I had Pavlov, the bloodhound. The animal was so nose-directed it was a miracle I found him and not the other way around. The miracle involved a festering gunshot wound, his left flank, which I stuffed, after disinfecting it with a salt packet ‘gleaned’ from the Ukrainian Deli at Quebec street and Bloor, and shoving it full with the cleanest leaves I could find. Dog meat was better than no meat at all to some, and poaching had become something of a youth pastime—many of the school gyms had been pilfered for bows. And guns?—guns were easily had if you knew whose palm to grease. This was no different than any other time in history, but it was new that grandmothers, and also very young children, openly carried. Contrary to popular myth, we did not live in the park. We had a bedsit in the decaying condo project on the old Canadian Tire lot, abandoned some years prior. So we were in no way homeless. Robbie and I had hauled, and rolled, a parlour stove scored from a back alley up the fire stairs, then jerry rigged stolen pipe through a broken window—well, once we’d broken it. When I say stolen, keep in mind no commerce had taken place in that...

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Carol Nguyen’s Kickstarter

Posted on Mar 25, 2016

Carol Nguyen’s Kickstarter Go to Carol’s Kickstarter here. Carol Nguyen is the young, brilliant filmmaker who made the trailer for All The Broken Things. In her four-year career at the Etobicoke School of the Arts, she has won: TIFF Jumpcuts Best Documentary 2014 & 2015, as well as Heartland Film Festival’s Grand Prize High School Film Competition 2013 & 2015. Her films have played at various film festival across the globe including Fantastic Fest, Los Angeles Film Festival and Citizen Jane Film Festival. Basically, her work is astounding, evocative, and complex. She’s extremely gifted and (more to the point) hard working. Her parents own the mechanic shop where I’ve serviced my cars for twenty years, and this new film seems to be set right inside the garage. Clearly a brilliant stoke of genius as she bids her folks farewell and heads off to what will surely be a wondrous life. Please share this, pledge, and check out Carol’s work: And the trailer for All The Broken Things, which I share at every opportunity because I love it so much:...

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