The next night the Astros walloped Baltimore 23-2, with Álvarez homering three times, including a grand slam, for a total of seven RBI. But the Yordan Álvarez of Friday night’s third inning strikeout is of greater interest to me. He stands at the nexus of innumerable convergences: strains of information, history, prognosis and apology, wayward currents pinched to a single point in space. He’s an individual upright but unguarded, caught in 1/100th of a second and preserved against a background, that great brick facade vivid but blurred, which suggests that he is stalked by uncertainties. The thick, hazy air of a dog day’s evening makes time’s immateriality evident. Much has come unmoored.
— “Convergences,” for SABR’s Baseball Cards Blog
The Mattawa River Writers Festival is now an online affair. I’ll be speaking, reading, and holding a Q and A via Zoom beginning at 2:30 PM Eastern on April 22nd. Register here. All MWRF events are now free, but donations are accepted and appreciated, as this is the Canadian Ecology Centre’s big annual fundraiser. Hope you’ll join me and witness my fumbling attempts to master the technology. It’s a great lineup; I’d suggest making a day of it, if you’re free.
UPDATE: the event was recorded, and it’s now up on YouTube. Enjoy?
Central among my beliefs is that the 1987 Topps set is the finest collection of baseball cards ever produced. There are no hard facts to support this claim, only my personal zealotry, and though I understand that my love is highly subjective, and the product of timing and circumstance as much as it is of accomplishment in design, I’m unshakable: this is the set, this is the year.
— “Simulacra,” for SABR’s Baseball Cards Blog
For all its prideful stubbornness, baseball has evolved, but in the virtual stream it becomes an ahistorical soup, the ’77 Yankees rubbing up against the 2001 Mariners and the ’68 Cardinals. We Are Family and the Big Red Machine and the Cardiac Kids and the Amazin’s and Nos Amours. Exhibitions, early-season snoozers, All-Star Games, World Series nail-biters. In YouTube’s chronological blender, Ken Griffey Jr. is always chugging around third on Edgar’s double to beat the Yankees, Mark Fidrych is always a goofy, charismatic rookie phenom on the rise, and Ichiro is always delivering a long-distance precision strike to nab Terrence Long at third. Picture quality careens from black-and-white abstraction to grainy videotape—but it’s all baseball, and at this moment that’s all I need it to be.
— “A Means of Coping,” for The Hardball Times
If you’re in self-isolation and you’ve already burned through your pile of books, skip over to Invisible Publishing to grab some ebooks. The best part? Pay whatever you choose, AND one hundred percent of proceeds go to the authors. (I guess that’s two parts.) So you can scoop up my books, but also dozens of other staggeringly wonderful titles from writers like Michelle Winters, Seyward Goodhand, Tyler Hellard, HB Hogan… Fiction, poetry, nonfiction. Fill your phone or laptop or tablet or e-reader (does anyone still use those?), make your isolation more enjoyable, support independent Canadian publishing, and toss some money at Canadian authors. Everybody wins!
UPDATE (3/18/2020): The Matawa River Writers Festival has been postponed in light of the effort to contain the spread of COVID-19. Please watch this space or the festival website for announcements regarding what form the rescheduled event will take. Stay safe, everyone! Stay home!
I’ll be speaking at the Canadian Ecology Centre in Samuel de Champlain Provincial Park in April as part of the Mattawa River Writers Festival. Really looking forward to this one. Registration is now open for this amazing weekend, and it would be great to see you there.
This persistent little book has just entered a new printing — its fifth — the first to feature any editorial changes. Over at the Invisiblog I wrote about that small change, and why it felt necessary to do now.
I’ll be hitting the road soon to bring my one-note act to beautiful western Massachusetts, reading at the opening of To Cause a Tiger in Easthampton. Join us!
This promises to be a good one. If you’re in Peterborough, please consider coming!
The Seattle Mariners’ history is one long tale of woe studded with infrequently dazzling displays of capability, with all of it adding up to exactly zero championships. I say this as someone who has counted several Mariners as his favorite players. There’s no logic to this, just as there’s no relief from the routine cruelties of time and money. It just is.
— “Every Fifth Day,” the last entry in the season-long The Bottom of the Order series, for Hobart
I’ll be at The Word on the Street in Toronto this Sunday, September 22, reading and in conversation with Giller-longlisted short story master K.D. Miller (!) on a panel called Emotional Landscapes. We’re in the Vibrant Voices of Ontario tent at 11:00 AM. Join us!