Maybe you had some variety of wild place – your own Hawkins, Indiana, the wild places bordering your neighborhood which encouraged those wild places within you, before you came to any awareness about energy policy, or rendition, or black sites; before you understood that the worst of the world’s problems came not from without human agency, but from deep within it. I certainly did. The joy of Stranger Things springs in great measure from its ability to reconnect us with those places. It’s a meditation on power – the loss of it, the restoration of it – which never for a moment feels didactic or in any way concerned with message, but rather like a parable from within the temporal borders of our own lives. The precarity of modern life has led to a sense of unease and fragility. In Hawkins, Indiana, as in the places of our youth, before the age of smartphones, help could be very far away indeed, but we got by, in some cases with some help from benevolent authority figures, like Chief Hopper, but more often with the help of the freaks and outsiders we called our peers. The ability to navigate danger depended not on how reliable your 4G signal was, but how reliable your friends.
— “The familiarity of Stranger Things,” on the late-Cold War malaise woven into the show’s DNA, for sinkhole‘s essay roundup of 2017’s significant pop cultural moments and things
He started in: “There’s a guy. Good guy. Or average guy, anyway, like any of us. Flawed. Known his share of personal pain. Maybe he’s been predeceased by a child or a wife or a lover or a sibling. This guy – we’ll call him Randolph – walks into a bar.”
“Oh, this one,” said Marian.
— “A Good One,” a new story in The Feathertale Review‘s Winter 2018 issue
The Utility of Boredom – Book Trailer from PRIMITIVE REPLICA on Vimeo.
From Primitive Replica, here’s the trailer for the baseball book. They approached me shortly after Utility was published and said they wanted to turn it into a short film/trailer. I watched a few of their videos and then said yes without reservation. It was wonderful to work with Sean and Henry, and I couldn’t be happier with the results (except for the part where they captured that flat-footed swing of mine, which clearly demonstrates that when it comes to the ballplayer-vs-writer question, I chose the right path). Follow the link to watch the rest of their stuff, and if you’re a creative enterprise in need of a video of some sort (in and around Toronto), consider contracting their services. They’re smart, professional, and collectively they have a great eye.
As for the trailer, I’d be grateful if you’d share it if/as you see fit.
(And yes, that is a 1951 Minneapolis Millers jersey I’m wearing in the batting cage, with Willie Mays’ number on the back. That’s from Ebbets Field Flannels.)
Great news: The Utility of Boredom is now available in a French edition — De l’utilité de l’ennui — from the Montreal-based publisher Les éditions de ta mère. The book was translated by Daniel Grenier and William S. Messier, and will be officially published on September 25th.
“Horses,” a story originally published in May of 2016 by Found Press, is now available as a limited edition, hand-bound chapbook, lovingly crafted by FP founder Bryan Ibeas. Head to his Etsy store to order a copy, and while you’re at it pick up chapbooks written by the likes of Seyward Goodhand, Liz Harmer, Grace O’Connell, Kirsty Logan, Kathryn Mocker, Matt Cahill, and others.
I’ll be at Hunter Street Books in Peterborough from 11:00 AM until about noon to celebrate Authors for Indies 2017 on Saturday, April 29. Come in and say hello. Buy books. Support independent booksellers.
Loveless, motherless, we were submerged beneath cartoonish desires to be the men we thought we could have been whe we were nineteen and twenty-two. But at thirty and thirty-three we weren’t, and it likely had never been possible. That’d been someone’s joke.
— “Emmylou,” new fiction for Maisonneuve
The American culture industry was shipping out products like White Christmas with reliable regularity— trifles made not without some care and craft, but generally with little eye toward longevity, and certainly no expectation that they become time capsules of the era’s subcutaneous anxiety. But some, including White Christmas, were dipped in the waters of dread, and they still bear the mark.
— On White Christmas and the Great America that never was, for Sinkhole Magazine
Mark Kingwell will be in Peterborough on March 22nd to discuss his new book, Fail Better: Why Baseball Matters. I’ll be on hand to host the event and lead the conversation. Free event, all welcome.