Grand Trunk and Shearer – Coming Soon enough.

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Mile-End’s just, Meh!

I’m a Montreal writer.

 

And I’ve never been to Casa Del Popolo.

I don’t really hang out in Mile-End

In fact, I did not know what Mile-End was until I was 27.

I’ve set foot in la Sala Rossa only once.

And I that other room those guys are/were running.

Can’t remember the name.

I saw Terror there a few years ago.

I don’t know (or care) if they’ve had hardcore shows since.

 

I can’t FUCKING stand Arcade Fire.

I never set foot in Drawn and Quarterly

Or Copacabana

Or le Biftèque

Or Café Olympico

 

I’ve never done those things most « Montreal writers » do

 

But I can tell you this.

I was born at Santa-Cabrini.

Parents were from Tétreaultville

My grand-parents lived in the projects

Over at Frontenac Metro.

 

My family ain’t rich.

But damned if they worked hard.

I had jobs in Montreal-East

Though, unfortunately, not in the gas industry.

Dad was a welder.

Mother an office clerk.

Managed to buy something nice and decent

In the suburbs, no less.

 

I’ve gone fishing at Parc Bellerive

Threw rocks at the water with my friends

for hours on end.

Chilled on the tracks

And played arcade games

When they still had them at

Place Versailles.

I use to go to Cinema Paradis

And still wait for the day it re-opens.

I Chilled under Pont-Charles-de-Gaule

As I sat next to a camp fire.

While friends did graffiti

Same with the Sherbrooke underpass

Or Rouen Street.

 

I’ve been to more shows at l’X than you could count.

L’inco too.

Café Chaos

Katacombes.

I’ve had a jam space at Cité 2000

and at some sketchy place in the basement of a front-bar

In Pointe-Aux-Trembles.

I know that for some reason, straight edge kids like me

Tend to find work at foufs.

And I still can’t explain that one.

 

The reason I am saying this is simple

I have never really found why Mile-End

Was deemed the center of the fucking universe.

For all things creative and cultural.

 

I’m from the East-End of Montreal. The REAL East-End.

Not St-Denis

Not even Hochelaga.

Further than that.

And maybe when I was a kid,

I never realized How cool that place actually was.

The jobs we get,

The lives we live

The people we meet.

THOSE are fucking stories worth writing.

 

The East End’s where people live, grow old and die in Montreal.

That’s why it’s hard for me to realate to ANYTHING

That comes out of mile-end in 2014

(The years of Richler and Layton are long gone)

 

Mile-End is just somewhere wanabees visit

Where has-beens linger

Where outsiders crash for a year or two

And call themselves “Montreal Writers.”

 

 

So I Just Set Fire to a House…

…In my next novel, of course… (but the title caught you, didn’t it?)

I was sitting there, struggling to try to get my character in and kill the guy he’s supposed to kill and find a way to somehow cover his tracks and try to make it sense and I was sitting and writing and writing and re-writing… shit wasn’t working and WORSE, shit didn’t sound like my book or my characters…

Then I said to myself, “fuck it, I’m burning down the motherfucker.”

With the guy sleeping in it.

That’s right.

I just set fire to the house.

Because my character’s that kind of an asshole anyways. He ain’t no fancy hitman. He’s a guy who gets pissed and just does shit and this time he wanted to burn down the house. It made sense right that moment so he fucking did.

Simple as that.

Which leads me to a kinda-well-known writing tip: Let the characters speak for themselves, they often know what they’re doing better than you do.

Keep writing every day, (I know I’m having a hard time with it.)

Take care,

Ian

5 Incredible Books About Montreal You Need to Read.

This will be a bilingual selection…so work on your French, ‘pis apprenez votre Anglais! (Ps : a good way to fuck up your spellcheck program is to write something dans les deux langues)

 

1- Mordecai Richler : The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz

My favourite (and probably best) Montreal author working his magic with flawless satire, morally questionable characters and a sense of setting that is unparalleled in Canadian literature.

 

duddy

2- Marie-Sissi Labrèche – Borderline

On m’a fait lire Borderline au Cegep. J’ai adoré. Un style rough sorti du Centre-Sud (de l’époque) et, surtout, une forme littéraire appelée “auto-fiction” qui m’a tout de suite plu (l’auteur et le personnage principal partagent le même nom mais la vie du personnage est amplifié, modifiée et le fun c’est de jamais dire ce qui est vrai de ce qui est inventé.

border

3- David Fennario – Balconville.

Un texte parfaitement bilingue straight out of Pointe-Saint-Charles. Le premier livre bilingue au Canada. Un livre tout ce qui a de plus Montréalais, pour ne pas dire québécois : le quotidien de quatre voisins ouvriés, sans-emplois, femme au foyer… Mixing both languages in a way that has been deemed, “Montréal plus vrai que vrai.” I still hope one day I manage to “pull a Fennario” as I like to say.

balcon

4- Charles Harrison – Generals Die in Bed

One of Canada’s great (most likely) unknown war novel. It’s style is dry, straight forward and rooted in more of a “raconteur” style. Like Hemingway and others of the so called “silent generation”, Harrison didn’t speak (or in this case, write) invain. Even if the novel is short, every word count and it will hit you right in the guts. The opening scene is still one of the best depiction of WWI era-Montreal I have yet read.

generals

5 – Michel Tremblay – Hosanna

Perhaps because it dealt with being gay at a time when it was still very hard to be, even in Canada. Maybe because my uncle was gay and was taken away too soon in the 90’s wave of AIDS victims. On me l’a fait lire aussi au Cegep. J’ai adoré autant que Borderline (quand j’y pense, ma prof de littérature aimait les livres rough)

Hosanna rang a bell with me. It’s raw emotion, flawless (minimalistic) setting and the first play I ever read by Tremblay.

hosanna

 

Merci. Thank you.

 

Non-Mechanical Errors (in pictures)

So we opened my first solo show last week at a Vernissage on the 14th.

Here are some pictures. (I think all of those were taken by Mary Lee Maynard…pretty sure)…you can get the complete catalogue of paintings in my “visual art” section HERE.

 

DSC_0415vernissage a

DSC_0184DSC_0189DSC_0199DSC_0201Ian (Photo Mary Lee Maynard)

Painting : Soon (for Non-Mechanical Errors 14/08 @Vap Box Montréal)

Hey there,

 

Finished up the last two canvases for my first solo show : Non-Mechanical Errors on 14/08 @Vap Box Montréal. 4812 St-Urbain, Montreal. 18h00

 

DSC_0403 DSC_0386 DSC_0431 DSC_0392 DSC_0415

Judge a Book by its Cover

I want to write a quick post about this because I just had that age-old argument with a colleague.

“Don’t judge a book by its cover.” as if it was supposed to be some great metaphore on how we put too much thought into appearances and not enough in the guts.

While it may sound like glitters and unicorns where everyone can feel good and embrace mediocrity…let’s face it : we need to judge a book by its cover.

We need to…

Because being a writer also makes us artists and therefore, we CANNOT neglect the aesthetic aspect of our work.

Some people only care about aesthetics (Art for art’s sake) and others will claim a work is purely sociological/political…both work with aesthetics, or at least they should.

As writers, it is imperative to dig into design and visual art. We need to know what we love visually, what we like aesthetically and how we can translate the stories we have in our heads, not only into words, but also visually.

It can be daunting : how do you synthesise 300 pages of work into one single image. It is an exercise in minimalism, that is for sure. But why not live up to the challenge. It can be a visual concept, an emotion, a character… why not take this chance to be creative just the same.

Of course, some will say that authors don’t always (or ever) have final word on cover designs. That can only mean two things : A) you had no guts to impose yourself (everything is negotiable) or you wouldn’t dare to try in the first place.

You don’t even need to be a designer. Simple photoshop skills (which most younger people have anyways) will suffice to AT LEAST do a proper maquette of a cover that you can then send to a designer (if need be).

With all the photographs available online in various databases (stock photos) you can do a mock-up in a half-hour, probably do a full (usable) cover in a matter of hours… at least to indicate to your designer what kind of direction you’d like to go.

Cover design it not THAT complicated. If you’ve been raised around computers, you already (probably) know how to do it. And the best thing is, it’s cheap too.

If you can’t afford photoshop, try a cheaper program. Don’t have a good camera : stock photos. Fonts aren’t interesting : buy a few good ones online.

NG cover lowfi

 

The cover for “Northern Gothic” is basically a texture I bought online and photoshopped it to get the color I wanted plus, I added a very common font (that is cheezy, yes, but so what?) It cost me $4.34 (Canadian) to do… that’s it.

But you don’t have to go “cheap” all the time.

ats-banner.jpg

With A Teenage Suicide, I wanted to push my creativity and use everything I knew about the world of Punk rock. So I designed one cover for each of the characters, using “A Teenage Suicide” as a band name, while imitating logos from bands that the teenagers in my story would listen too… I had t-shirts printed and then asked people I know to act as models.

All of that cost me a few hundred dollars (printing one t-shirt at a time is REALLY expensive) but I found the experience worthwhile (sometimes an idea gets in your head and you can’t sleep till its done.)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

On a simpler note, I’ve designed the mock-up for my next novel (Grand Trunk and Shearer) because I know what kind of visual I wanted. I wanted to use the Victoria Bridge because it crosses the neighbourhood my story is set it. It’s a Montreal landmark, plus it looks great. I could have gone there at night and taken a picture, but I was lucky to find one that was perfect in a stock photo database.

I also wanted big BOLD letters that took a lot of space (like the tattoo on my left arm) Because…well, that’s what I wanted.

integrity

Total price for the cover : maybe 40 bucks.

Try and fail and try again, untill you’re happy with what you got. It’s that simple and it’s that cheap.

There’s no reason not to do it.

 

Take care,

 

Ian

 

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