Angie Abdou on Research for Fiction Writers

Angie Abdou is the author of four books of fiction, including 2011 Canada Reads finalist The Bone Cage (NeWest, 2007). Her most recent novel, Between (Arsenal Pulp, 2014) is about working mothers, Filipina nannies, and swinger resorts. She lives in the Crowsnest Pass and is an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at Athabasca University.

What Knausgård Reviews Look Like to People Who Haven’t Read Knausgård

Karl Ove Knausgård’s new book is beyond long, and way past self-indulgent. You should read it! He can’t write well — his prose is clunky and often seems unedited. His translator’s not great. You should read it!

Knausgård seems like a horrible person, from all accounts, including his own lengthy account. He’s great! His life is not interesting, since he has done little worth writing about. Did I mention that he’s not that great a writer? Get off your ass and go get this book!

Knausgård is a whiny white male who has written a very long book whining about the struggles of being a white male today, and he titled the book after Hitler’s book. It’s sooooooo worth reading! Sorry, I meant to say a series of very long books.

A very long series of very long books, about a white dude’s struggles. All he wants to do is write super-long books, but he’s not that great a writer, so it’s hard! If you haven’t read Knausgård yet, then get crackin’, Jack! What are you waiting for?

Knausgård is kinda like Proust, except that he’s not Proust, because he can’t write that well. He’s the Proust of today! Don’t miss out!

This new book is named after a Bruce Springsteen song, for no apparent reason, or maybe he’s unaware of the song somehow and thinks he’s being original. He’s not. Some reviewer called Knausgård “far from original” and I agree. That reviewer was praising the book, by the way — it deserves all of its praise, and even more praise! It totally lives up to the hype!

It’s pretty much the same as every other white dude’s autobiographical novel, except it is super-fucking-long and you should read it immediately!




Should only take me [punches calculator] … a minimum of 7 years? Of course, I get sent about a book a day, so … [punches self]

he’ll (St. John's: Pedlar, 2014)

Former Winnipegger Nathan Dueck finally follows his outstanding 2004 debut, king’s(mère), with he’ll, which explores a fragmentary narrative set in Rat River while playing with Plaut’dietsch.

Dueck explores the sonic qualities of this obscure dialect in a mediation on Mennonites that drags religion, region, and reading across a landscape of lines.

Dueck’s density is as remarkable as his range. Whether plundering the canon for the lines in classic novels that might employ a contraction if written today, transposing songs for musical translations, or simply joking (“‘You haven’t had a night’ / ‘… ’til you’ve had a Mennonite’”), Dueck pushes his language play to the furthest possible extremes.

At the heart of the collections is the apostrophe, both as a punctuation mark and in its literary sense (as an address to an absent abstraction). That’s less alliteration than Dueck would have managed — it’s been a long wait, but he’ll is worth it.

McNally | Amazon

Downverse (Vancouver: Talonbooks, 2014)

Nikki Reimer’s Downverse has lost its faith in the power of poetry to express any emotion without commodifying it. One of Reimer’s most affecting poems is, oddly, a list of “insurance outcomes”: “Life / The Principal Sum / Both Hands / The Principal Sum / … / Entire Sight of One Eye / Two-Thirds of the Principal Sum.”

In this way, life and limb are literally valued. Another poem sees Reimer expressing herself as we all do, through her monthly budget (she spends 4% of her income on books and 0.3% on the afore-mentioned life insurance policy). However cold such “expressions” feel, they are in fact as raw (in their way) as any properly “poetic” emotion, more indicative of the poet’s real concerns.

Reimer crashing different registers of found text against one another for startling and humorous effects. One poem juxtaposes the oddball opinions that “perhaps what al Qaeda really needed was a fresh start under a new name” and “no matter what his name, or whether he is a stray, the street-savvy dog has captured the public’s imagination.”

Soon the poem announces that “we are focusing more on education when responding to chicken complaints” — whether silly, wry, or deadpan, Reimer plays black comedy off against an anguished frustration.

McNally | Amazon

#95books for 2015 (The First 40)

Once again in 2015, I am reading #95books. As May begins, I hit book 40, so I thought I might check-in with my list-in-progress:

  1. Moby-Dick (Herman Melville)
  2. Idaho Winter (Tony Burgess)
  3. Girlwood (Jennifer Still)
  4. Infinitum (G.M.B. Chomichuk)
  5. Their Biography (kevin mcpherson eckhoff)
  6. The Troop (Nick Cutter)
  7. Thou (Aisha Sasha John)
  8. Information Doesn’t Want to Be Free (Cory Doctorow)
  9. Magpie Days (Brenda Sciberras)
  10. Galveston (Nic Pizzolatto)
  11. The King in Yellow (Robert W. Chambers)
  12. The Imagination Manifesto, vol. 3 (GMB Chomichuk & John Toone)
  13. Cassie and Tonk (Justin Currie, GMB Chomichuk, & Will Liddle)
  14. Wraith (Joe Hill & Charles Paul Wilson III)
  15. Multiple Bippies (Colin Smith)
  16. The Gun That Starts the Race (Peter Norman)
  17. Imagine: How Creativity Works (Jonah Lehrer)
  18. Through the Woods (Emily Carroll)
  19. Corked (Catriona Strang)
  20. Afterlife with Archie, Book 1 (Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa & Francesco Francavilla)
  21. Red Curls (Tracy Hamon)
  22. The Pet Radish, Shrunken (Pearl Pirie)
  23. The Damnation of Pythos (David Annandale)
  24. The Deep (Nick Cutter)
  25. The Ocean at the End of the Lane (Neil Gaiman)
  26. On Evil (Terry Eagleton)
  27. Boycott (Gregory Betts)
  28. Loitersack (Donato Mancini)
  29. A New Index for Predicting Catastrophes (Madhur Anand)
  30. Dear Leader (Damian Rogers)
  31. The Blondes (Emily Schultz)
  32. The War of Art (Steven Pressfield)
  33. Mephiston: Lord of Death (David Annandale)
  34. B (Sarah Kay)
  35. The Purpose Pitch (Kathryn Mockler)
  36. The Lake and the Library (S. M. Beiko)
  37. mcv (Melker Garay)
  38. Asbestos Heights (David McGimpsey)
  39. Asbestos Heights (David McGimpsey)
  40. Merz Structure No. 2 Burnt by Children at Play (Jake Kennedy)

The ChiSeries is back in April with a never-before poetry edition! Each poet has been “commissioned” to compose a special piece for the evening, plus there will be a live paint spectacular with GMB Chomichuk during the readings.

Mark it in your calendars as a means to celebrate the (hopefully) abolished Winter! Chadwick Ginther will be on hand to host, most likely with another famous novelty belt buckle, because of reasons.

As always, the event is FREE to the public and will take place in the Atrium at McNally Robinson Booksellers at 7 PM. The ChiSeries is a non-profit reading series that pays all readers for their time, and is largely donation run.

Date: April 15, 2015
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Event: ChiSeries Winnipeg reading with Ariel Gordon, Adam Petrash, GMB Chomichuk, and Chadwick Ginther
Sponsor: The Chiaroscuro Reading Series
Venue: McNally Robinson
Location: Winnipeg, MB

From the Prairie Fire press release:

We’re so excited to let you know about SPEAKING VOLUMES, our 23rd annual fundraising gala on Saturday, May 9. Each year we host SPEAKING VOLUMES with the purpose of engaging our community in supporting us to raise funds for our student Practicum Program in Publishing, Communication and Leadership.

This year SPEAKING VOLUMES features award-winning writers Margaret Sweatman and Jonathan Ball. Please join us on Saturday, May 9 at Fort Gibraltar, 866 rue St. Joseph in old St. Boniface and hear readings by these two amazing writers.

The evening starts with cocktails and voyageur-style hatchet throwing at 6 pm and is followed by a fabulous dinner and readings by our special guests. This event also features an amazing collection of Rainbow and Silent Auction prizes, including the work of renowned artists Aganetha Dyck and Bryan Scott. You’ll also meet this year’s wonderfully talented practicum students Melissa McIvor and Jena Morris-Boissonneault.

SPEAKING VOLUMES will be held at Fort Gibraltar, 866 rue St. Joseph in old St. Boniface. Tickets are $70 (a tax receipt will be issued for a portion of the ticket price). Cocktails start at 6 pm, dinner is at 7 pm and readings begin at 8 pm.

Tickets are available through McNally Robinson Booksellers, from Prairie Fire’s board of directors, and from Prairie Fire Press at 423-100 Arthur Street. For tickets and information call (204) 943-9066, or email us at You can also purchase tickets at

Tickets are limited, so please order yours today!

Screenshot 2015-03-24 13.46.15

Date: May 9, 2015
Time: 6:00 p.m.
Event: Speaking Volumes (Prairie Fire fundraiser) with Margaret Sweatman
Sponsor: Prairie Fire
Venue: Fort Gibraltar
Location: 866 rue St. Joseph in old St. Boniface
Winnipeg, MB