Nov 172013


Hmmmmmm. My kind of event. I hope I get past the beer tasting to my reading. It’ll be touch and go. It could be a wild reading. I’ll have to get someone to point me toward the audience (but who knows what condition the audience will be in?). So far I have not yet been asked to sit in with the String Quartet, but I expect an invitation at any moment. I don’t know what Beethoven is going to do, read from his new book? I hear he brings his own stein to these events and gets morose and quiet near the end and needs a cab ride home.

Actually, it will be fun to return to Saint John, scene of many youthful hijinks (I taught philosophy at the university campus there when I was 22 and then worked at the city daily, the Evening Times-Globe).


I used to haunt the great old Andrew Carnegie public library when I lived in Saint John, not the same building as I am going to read in unfortunately. But there is a ultra-brief sex scene snippet in my story “The Obituary Writer” that takes place in the stacks. You might want to look it up; it’s in my book A Guide to Animal Behaviour. Perfectly tasteful and not auto-biographical, I might add, as are all the scenes in my books. All I did at the library was read. That story, “The Obituary Writer,” is set in Saint John; the city becomes a character in the story in a sense. And also, of course, the name Numéro Cinq comes from that story.




Saint John Free Public Library, 1 Market Square, Saturday November 30

7:00 pm. An after-hours event. Words and music in celebration of the Library’s 130th anniversary. The Saint John String Quartet will be playing, Governor General Award winning author Douglas Glover (and Writer-in-Residence at the University of New Brunswick) is booked to do a reading from his new story collection Savage Love, and Big Tide is set to cater and supply a specially crafted beer. Tickets: $10 and include one drink and snacks. There will also be a silent auction. Tickets are available at Central, West, and East Branches of the SJFPL.

Nov 142013

Savage Love Cover

Douglas Glover always pushes the envelope. Every story in Savage Love is outrageous, creating farce – and something beautiful – out of human foibles….

This is the kind of audacious work our literary juries should be acknowledging. Where were they on this one?

Read the whole review at Savage Love | NOW Magazine.

Nov 132013

There is a style of writing novels that is not style; I call it novelese. The language skitters along the surface of things in a lively pastiche of known phrases and ideas and reference without plumbing the depths. There is even novelese for “plumbing the depths” in a superficial, unadventurous, non-threatening way. Depth that only vaguely looks like depth, Ideas that look like ideas but aren’t. Tim Parks doesn’t give it a name, but his idea of contemporary non-style is similar to mine.

Read this essay next the two Andrew Gallix essays on the tired conventions of literary realism: “The End of Literary Realism” and “Of Literary Bondage,” and read my essays “The Novel as a Poem” and “Difficulty and Revolution,” and you’ll begin to see a density of argument and a critical vector that should lead you to consider or reconsider your approach to writing and reading.


Such is the future of literature and literary style in a global age: historical novels, fantasy, vast international conspiracies, works that visit and revisit the places a world culture has made us all familiar with; in short an idea of literature that may give pleasure but rarely excites at the linguistic level, rarely threatens, electrifies, reminds us of, and simultaneously undermines the way we make up the world in our own language. Perhaps it is this development that has made me weary with so much contemporary fiction. In particular I have started reading poetry again. There indeed things can still happen with the language, and writers are still allowed to produce texts that are untranslatable and for the most part unprofitable.

via Literature Without Style by Tim Parks | NYRblog | The New York Review of Books.

Nov 122013

Or “Fuck Realism” as he says on his blogpost linking to the essay, which, yes, is an impassioned cry against the reductive, prosaic monotony of the what Northrop Frye called “low mimetic” realism, the realism of the middle of the road, market driven, read-and-toss, consumer fiction of our day (and days before). Gallix is a leading new Modernist (I keep trying to come up with a tag that will fit the bill—this one is provisional), founder of 3AM Magazine in the UK, and contributor to Numéro Cinq. Put this new essay from the Guardian together with his essay “On Literary Bondage” from our August issue and then throw in my essay “The Novel as a Poem” and figure out where you stand.


Literary fiction is dead – or if not dead then finished, according to the Goldsmiths prize-shortlisted writer Lars Iyer, who argues it has become a “repertoire, like The Nutcracker at Christmas” and suggests that novelists should spread the word that “the time for literary novels is over”. But literary fiction has always been dead, has always needed the mould-breaking writing which the Goldsmiths prize celebrates.

Ever since its birth, writers have been suspicious of the novel, reaching for the authenticity of the real – often presenting their work as memoir, à la Robinson Crusoe. For Scheherazade, storytelling is, literally, a stay of execution. For the rest of us, it is merely a pastime; a distraction from our ultimate destruction. Ashamed of its frivolity, fiction drapes itself in the gravitas of non-fiction.

If literature needs to be something more than just storytelling, then perhaps one could argue with Maurice Blanchot that it only truly becomes grown-up when it “becomes a question” hanging over the space separating it from the world. By showing its sleight of hand, the novel can live up to Adorno’s definition of art as “magic delivered from the lie of being truth”, but it loses its innocence in the process. No longer is it possible for a serious novelist to go back to the “good old days” when – as Gombrowicz put it – one could write “as a child might pee against a tree”.

via The end of realist stories | Books |

Nov 102013

My favourite line from a review so far: “…positively sick with the imagery of lust unfettered…” That’s exactly what I was aiming for, more or less, almost, sort of, well ballparkish.


“Shameless” touches upon the ways children diverge from expected paths in life, and the different ways love and lust can and will shape one’s experience. (The story also includes an incredible six-page paragraph positively sick with the imagery of lust unfettered, unsatisfied, having taken over and been taken over by the mistakes in one’s past.) It’s the final story, however, that proved to be my favourite in the book. “Pointless, Incessant Barking in the Night” is perfunctory in its absurdity, like a mid-life crisis bottled and vigorously shaken with an unhealthy dose of spunk (yes, that). By the end of this story, reflecting on The Comedies in its entirety, it feels as if Glover has addressed the ridiculousness of love and connection from all possible angles, thus clearing the table for something new.

Read the rest at Review: Savage Love, by Douglas Glover | backlisted.

Nov 042013

Faculty member Robert Gray, wearing his hat as Senior Editor over at the online magazine Numéro Cinq, has been editing and mentoring collisions between the English Department’s graduate students and alumni and various poets. He matched up new works by poets he knows with academics studying or recently graduated from our program. Nicole Markotić’s at risk or at least? Poems — With an Afterword on her Poetics by Tammy Armstrong; Shane Rhodes’s Stray Dog Poetics — With an Afterword by Rob Ross; and Jennica Harper’s amazing The Sally Draper Poems: A Poem Cycle | Introduced by Tammy Armstrong. These poet and critic combinations gave Numéro Cinq a novel way to feature new poems by these poets and through the various drafts and edits allowed Gray to mentor our graduate students and alumni on writing for a more informal and creative journal.

Numéro Cinq is the creative / critical playground created by the award-winning writer Douglas Glover who is also the 2013-2014 writer-in-residence at UNB.

via Grad Students and Alums Mentor on Douglas Glover’s online magazine Numéro Cinq | Frond and Spore.

Oct 302013

DG has been hiding out on the farm for a day and a half between events, dreaming nightmares of being chased and shot at (typical reading tour dreams). The fields are worked up and pocked with leftover tomatoes, the woods are noisy with black squirrels skipping about happily (apparently, it has been a good “nut year”). The Aged Parent is also skipping about, much repaired after breaking her hip in the spring.

Off to Toronto shortly. Below we information for the second Toronto event.



Oct 282013

Yes, yes, still touring. I am afraid earlier reports of my disappearance during a celebrity writer bus tour of the pulp mills of Nanaimo were exaggerated. It is true however that hotel security did prevent me from escaping into the writer-free zone beyond the perimeter last night (I was beaten with wet manuscripts in places where the bruises won’t show during panel discussions). There are legends, whispered in the corridors, that somewhere beyond the walls, people actually live undramatic, non-narrativized lives of peace, love and domesticity without ever talking about a book or how they get their ideas.

Catching a flight to Toronto at noon. The International Festival of Authors beckons. Friday I am reading with the lovely Cynthia Flood who has appeared in NC twice (see the fiction contents page).

Click on the image below for more information or tickets or for the hell of it.




Oct 222013

Savage Love Cover

In this book, Glover takes us far, far out into a vast sea of imaginative possibilities, shadows, violence, and twisted logic. There is a persistent questioning of the real consistent with his post-modern precursors, but there is also a disappearance into myth and mystery, which isn’t a denial of the world in a swirl of signifiers, but an embracing of its ultimate instability. It is a world that is knowable in fragments; it’s just that the fragments keep falling apart. Glover has always embraced the absurd, but he’s more grounded in facts than Kafka—witness the unlikely and extremely intriguing title of an earlier short story, “Dog Attempts to Drown Man in Saskatoon.” Glover’s catalogue of opening sentences would nearly make a book on its own. He is a master at setting up the awkward and the curious, often romantic, situation that demands explication. The frisson of desired transcendence lost in repeated failure veers seemingly inevitably toward catastrophe. Carol Shields used to say that Alice Munro’s stories don’t end, they swerve into mystery. Glover’s stories enter mystery early and never leave. Readers are drawn along for the journey on slipstreams of luminescent prose.

Read the rest at Savage Love | Music & Literature.

Oct 212013



DG is on the road again later this week. My first appearance in Vancouver is Saturday morning at the Vancouver Writers Fest, details above. Click on the post to buy tickets, or go here. If you’ve been following my wanderings, you get a sense of what these tours are like. Elizabeth Ruth and I were on a panel together Thursday in Calgary; Nancy Jo Cullen and I were on the Sexual Politics panel in Calgary the same day; Wayne Johnston and I read together Thursday night. It’s a traveling road show. This aspect of the book tour thing can be quite pleasant; new and old friends, catching up. And there is always a hospitality suite in the evening after the events are over.


Oct 202013

AquinHubert Aquin

Here is an essay of mine from my book Notes Home from a Prodigal Son, also published in Dalkey Archive’s magazine Context, which you can find at the link below. It used to be online but then disappeared when Dalkey reorganized its website. Now it’s back. The late, great French-Canadian novelist Hubert Aquin was a huge influence on me: he was a pyrotechnic genius, a black romantic, a revolutionary spirit and a suicide. He burned hard and bright. Nothing like him anywhere else.


1. Why are some novels more difficult to read than other novels? Why do some authors choose to write difficult books when they could just as easily write so-called well-made books, books that would presumably have a better chance of achieving a wide audience and commercial success? If writing a book, like speaking, is a form of communication, then doesn’t difficulty rather defeat the purpose of writing at all? What is the difference between a difficult book and a well-made book? And how do they both relate to the not-writing of a book, to unwriting, to silence?

Read the rest at Difficulty and Revolution | Dalkey Archive Press.

Oct 132013

Must read. Not only because it’s about Kafka, but also because it is by John Banville. See my Banville reviews and interview here.

What are we to make of Kafka? Not, surely, what he made of himself, or at least what he would have us believe he made of himself. In a letter to his long-suffering fiancée Felice Bauer he declared: “I am made of literature; I am nothing else and cannot be anything else.” This was a constant theme of his mature years, and one that he expanded on in a highly significant diary entry from August 1916: “My penchant for portraying my dreamlike inner life has rendered everything else inconsequential; my life has atrophied terribly, and does not stop atrophying.”

Of course, Kafka is not the first writer, nor will he be the last, to figure himself as a martyr to his art—think of Flaubert, think of Joyce—but he is remarkable for the single-mindedness with which he conceived of his role. Who else could have invented the torture machine at the center of his frightful story “In the Penal Colony,” which executes miscreants by graving their sentence—le mot juste!—with a metal stylus into their very flesh?

Read the whole essay at A Different Kafka by John Banville | The New York Review of Books.

Oct 102013

As if you all didn’t know by now.

For the first time in history, the Nobel Prize in literature has been awarded to a Canadian. Alice Munro, one of the world’s most respected and admired writers, was announced this morning as the winner of the prize in an especially notable year: one in which she has announced her retirement.

The 82-year-old author of 14 books of short stories is only the 13th woman to win the world’s most prestigious literary award. Earlier this year she announced her intention to stop writing, stating that her most recent book, Dear Life, would be her last.

via Canadian Alice Munro makes history with Nobel Prize win for literature – The Globe and Mail.

I published an essay, “The Mind of Alice Munro,” in Attack of the Copula Spiders. It had appeared in the magazine Canadian Notes & Queries and is still on the 0nline site there. I published here as a reading aid my marked up and annotated copy of the story.

“The Mind of Alice Munro”

Alice Munro — “Meneseteung” annotated

Just in care you’re interested.


Oct 092013

Savage Love Cover

A review of Savage Love by Jonathan Ball in The Winnipeg Review that also contains, parenthetically, one of the most hilarious summations of the work, although the reference is a bit obscure to non-Canadian readers:

Glover reads like a crack-addled David Arnason — take that as a compliment to Arnason and Glover both. If you took The Circus Performers’ Bar apart, added crystal meth, and put it back together, you might wind up with something like Savage Love.


At times, Glover mocks the conservatism of other authors openly:

Someone had replaced the Price Chopper muzak with a Stevie Ray Vaughan selection. Shelby loosened his scarf. He said something about the magical charm of atmospheres how things might change for no reason except that you suddenly felt better, because of Stevie Ray Vaughan and a little 420 action in Price Chopper and customers turning into people, against all odds, and holding conversations. Although you could never write a story like that.

Almost every one of Glover’s stories is, in some way, “a story like that” (not to mention, of course, this particular story of repeating love triangles), in which an atmosphere of harried terror is at the selfsame time a sort of comic respite.

via ‘Savage Love’ by Douglas Glover | The Winnipeg Review.

Oct 072013

Savage Love is Glover’s fifth collection of short stories, and it confirms his longstanding mastery of the genre. As the title indicates, Eros and Thanatos are the proprietary gods of this textual cosmos, the psychic demons flagellating the characters, and the stories veer between these extremes, chronicling homicidal rampages, ravaging libidinal entanglements or, by far the worst possibility, some mutant hybrid of both pathologies (at least one story could be accurately described as an orgy of death). In concrete terms, this book contains both the most gruesome encounter with deliquescing corpses and the most exquisitely literary orgasm (male) likely to be experienced for the foreseeable future. Such a menagerie will come as no surprise to readers familiar with Glover’s fiction, because this is vintage Glover, and if you haven’t yet tuned in, Savage Love affords an excellent chance to get up to speed and find out what you’ve been missing.

 Read the rest at The Los Angeles Review of Books.

Oct 072013

Savage Love Cover

For his most recent book, Savage Love, a collection of short stories released by Goose Lane Editions last month, its weddings that preoccupied his imagination.

“I’ve just been thinking of literature as a whole and became a bit obsessed,” says Glover. “I realized that if you stick a wedding in at the end, you immediately insert a sense of optimism.”

Glover’s fascination evolved in opposition to the obsession that forced him to write his 2000 book of stories, 16 Categories of Desire. That collection was inspired by a comment made to him during a tour of Soviet Union in the 1980s: “All my life has been an effort to liberate myself from love.” The idea was so counter-intuitive that he kept returning to it for more than a decade. But when the book was finished, he told himself he had to move on.

Telegraph-Journal Salon: Mike Landry on Douglas Glover & Savage Love

Oct 042013

There is absolutely nothing prosaic about Savage Love. These stories engage in a process of aggressive defamiliarization, wreaking havoc with readerly sensibilities and exploring — deliberately and insistently — the extreme possibilities of language. Glover’s collection is bracing, angry, violent and funny. It is, regardless of genre, one of the best books you will read this year.

Read the rest at Shortcuts: Oh, My Darling, and Savage Love | National Post.

Oct 032013

Here’s the date, time and place for short story panel — Short Break — in which I am a participant at the International Festival of Authors in Toronto.


Théodora Armstrong, Kevin Barry and Douglas Glover debate the merits and complications of the short story form. Hosted and moderated by Tim Conley.

Saturday, November 2, 2013 – 2:00 PM
Round table: IFOA
York Quay Centre – Brigantine Room
235 Queens Quay West
Toronto M5J 2G8
Cost: $18/$15 supporters/FREE students & youth 25 and under

via Short Break | International Festival of Authors.

Oct 032013

Here’s the date, time and place for my International Festival of Authors reading. Wonderful to be reading with Cynthia Flood who has twice published fiction here at NC.


Authors George Elliott Clarke, Cynthia Flood, Aminatta Forna, Douglas Glover and Charlotte Gray share their latest works. Hosted by Helen Guri.

Friday, November 1, 2013 – 8:00 PM Reading: IFOA York Quay Centre – Studio Theatre235 Queens Quay WestToronto M5J 2G8Cost: $18/$15 supporters/FREE students & youth 25 and under.

via READING: George Elliott Clarke, Cynthia Flood, Aminatta Forna, Douglas Glover, Charlotte Gray | International Festival of Authors.

Sep 292013

Before meeting with Douglas Glover to discuss your creative work, it would save time and create a common set of assumptions and a vocabulary for ongoing discussion if you would read through some of his/my published work on writing and the Writing Resource and Craft Book sections on Numéro Cinq. While these readings are not a requirement, it makes sense (and is an act of courtesy) to familiarize yourself with what has already been said and written before asking the same old questions.

Read the rest at University of New Brunswick Writer-in-Residence Meeting Guides.

Sep 272013

The first big (the Toronto Globe and Mail) review of Savage Love, and it’s beautiful, intelligent, well-written and perceptive (if I do say so myself). I could not have asked for a better reading. I am touched. The reviewer knows my work well enough to gauge the differences between my last book of stories and this one, the modulations of theme, and so on. He does a wonderful job of illustrating the emotive range of the texts. It’s rare to get this kind of adult attention, let me tell you.


Douglas Glover is a distinguished member of the tribe of Nabokov. Glover is as gifted a writer as Canada has ever produced and the source of his strength is the ferocious quirkiness of his sentences.

Glover’s new story collection, Savage Love, is an astonishing book only partly because of the loopy and incessant inventiveness of his narratives. The 22 stories range daringly in space and time, taking us from a stomach-turning battle scene during the War of 1812 to a contemporary farm family whose sheer wackiness, condensed into 25 pages, puts to shame any eccentric clan one can think of, whether it be J.D. Salinger’s Glass family or Wes Anderson’s Tenenbaums.

These stories are rich in plot, full of love triangles, murders and descents into madness. The appalling events Glover describes might, in the hands of a lesser writer, seem like mere attention-grabbing sensationalism. Yet his stories leave a genuine emotional scar, because the words he uses are sharp enough to claw into us.

Read the rest at Douglas Glover comes out swinging, prose first – The Globe and Mail.

Sep 272013

Packed house, fresh chairs had to be brought in, vivid paintings all around the walls, bad lighting for photos (sorry). The first question in the aftermath was whether DG used psychotropic drugs to write the stories in Savage Love. Answer: Absolutely. (Actually, DG is a total innocent, embarrassingly so; he might as well have been a monk.) (Actually, actually, you should believe nothing DG says about anything.) Post-reading, NC writers Mark Jarman, Sharon McCartney and Gerard Beirne and Sharon’s dog Jack (among many others, and, to be absolutely precise, Jack is not an NC writer yet) adjourned to Alden Nowlan’s former home, now a student pub just off campus, where DG partook of the Barking Squirrel to assuage his shattered nerves.



Sep 272013

I dunno. Sometimes I overshare.

Also, this terse description may be a bit confusing. John Metcalf was a bystander and observer. My argument was with someone else entirely — just in case you thought otherwise.


Well, there was the time I got into a fistfight in the bar at the Frontenac Hotel in Kingston, Ontario, during a conference organized by John Metcalf, Leon Rooke and David Helwig. This was in the early 1990s. I still remember the look on John’s face as the bouncers pulled me away. The next time I was invited back to Kingston, the organizers had to pay the hotel a damage deposit before they could book me a room. Naturally, I expect nothing like this to happen in Vancouver as I have mellowed over the years.

via Douglas Glover | Vancouver Writers Fest.