CRASH number 9

CRASH cover image

from the editor

It seems like I never do anything in this column except apologize for how long it's been since the last issue came out. So this time I won't.

I have been meaning for some time to write something about that "Sommy" business last year. And since I might never get around to doing it properly, I thought I'd at least get a few notes in here.

What's interesting to me is not the incident itself so much, as the way that people so very swiftly and thoroughly became convinced that a disaffected teenager burping into the extension phone was some kind of brilliant demonic superhacker, skilled beyond the ability of anyone to capture or control, and given to delivering messages of vague threat and tremendous implied meaning. Kind of like Satan in The Exorcist. And what is interesting about this is the way it illustrates how people are situating all their freefloating anxiety, and maybe even their desire for meaning, in the internet.

Once upon a time, all kinds of people thought they were getting radio transmissions from the fillings in their teeth. My father knows someone whose job at the CBC, at one time, involved taking calls from all these unfortunate folks. Later on, people decided that the CIA or the aliens were beaming secret mind-control rays at them from their television sets, and when I was a baby we lived in a flat above our landlady, who came to believe that the BBC had moved into her house and was sitting in her favourite chair.

Now, as far as I know no one is yet claiming that mind-control rays are coming from the internet or that the WWW has moved in and is demanding cups of coffee. But the Sommy Affair is edging close to it. The internet has got just close enough to people to be a scary mystery and not close enough to be normalized.

Now, it gets really interesting when the secret rays from communications equipment start telling you useful stuff about your life, and I'd recommend a hard-to-find book called Operators and Things ... but I have run out of space so I'll have to continue the thought elsewhere.
--Maggie Helwig


The beginning was November.
No dog to die I guess.
And it's been a week, this last of you,
I take against the bridge.
Where Vegas Falls on comic books
and postcards write we'll never give.
Never is a long, long time to buy I said.

        The waitress at the Elbow Room serves tissues.
                   Wipes the greasy cowboy songs
                             on tapes of your musicians tunes.

Our sawdust in my sordid cup
hands down, hands down, worst drunk.
And wonder things I did,
as winter evening settles in and Preludes I begin.
Because you liked his vacant lot,
because you liked it best,
this prayer at midnight comes to crawl
from fingerprints on safety glass.

         The trucker at the Hitching Post bums a smoke,
                    curls south as pink flamingos steer
                              my rear-view from the shoulder bend

Nancy Dembowski

Two poems by B.Z. Niditch

The Laundromat
On Saturday night
in the old flat laundromat
you speak of "peacekeeping"
by these, the globe waters
surfing in and compressed
from a scarecrow wash
anybody's guess
why you are here
among dreamwalkers
in uplifted clotheslines
on a celestial swim
catching foreign bodies
in vanishing light
empty sacks
of gravity downstream
browsing in your red eyes
among a toweled chaperon
who deposits a skein of quarters
for lace aprons, slips, ties
from sudden spray
and bathed bleach
in the nether breathlessness
waiting for sunrise
in the darkness
where strangers become friends
in exhausted loops
drift as powder clouds
as silk, cotton, chancy things
knock against each other
swirling shallows
as fingertips and forceps
disappear in shiny scents
pulled out from a drawn basket.

B.Z. Niditch

after her teeth
were fixed
he was satisfied
the oils absorbed
socket blue eye make-up
untouchable breasts
wrinkled faces
resembling emptied memory
this hour covers him
erasing every shadow
reading a shaped outline
being sensitive to himself
besieging brushed off time
to paint the visible
shrugging off unexpected noises
from the soccer game
in the landscape fields below
shaking off abandoned muses
by the lilac water bed
where great former lovers
had something pledged
from the past,
all the leaping of blood
the instant betrayals
mixing of orange and green
the trembling hands
and worn out sandals
in this hidden studio
a concrete poet
chooses to believe
you will arrive at light.

B.Z. Niditch

The Death of a Husband

LISTEN. I might as well tell you from the start: I no longer believe in Romance. It's a plot designed to keep us chained to the same lifelong partners, to grease the wheels of capitalism, to keep us buying, buying, buying. And I know you don't really buy any of those feeble plots that limp miserably across your television screen, the kind that send you dashing to the refrigerator during commercials in search of more genuine sustenance and comfort. Even there you are confronted by heart-shaped boxes of stale chocolate and over-ripe camembert that call for someone else's fingers and a bottle of heavy Bordeaux. I mean, really, life is nauseating enough without seeking out some ersatz hero who breathes heavily on the late night show and glares suggestively at the female cop, muttering sadistic fantasies to his sidekick.

Admit it: what really turns you on these late evenings is death. You've plotted your husband's at least a hundred times. No, not the actual details. You're not into murder, of course, unless it's a good murder mystery, and then it always has to be someone else's. No, it's his absence that you find titillating, and the funeral itself. And all that money from the insurance company. I dare you to deny this: you even know exactly what you'll wear at his funeral. You've pictured yourself in black, looking forlorn but mysterious, sexy even, standing by the side of his grave, over and over. The setting is vaguely misty, just enough to give it that soft-blur focus. You will be the perfect spectacle of the bereaved, in your long flowing black cape and the stunning black fedora that covers just half of your face.

You picked out the underwear some time ago, your best black lace high-cut French panties, the ones he gave you for your birthday several years ago, the ones that wait at the back of your drawer between sachet bags of lavender. the kind that you perpetually hope will give you that seamless, sleek look: no hooks, no snags, no catches, nothing to interrupt the smooth gaze of the eye, as advertised. Some haunting feeling prevents you from selecting them on a regular basis, as if you were saving them for a special occasion. Like the seduction scene you replay in your imagination every time you envision yourself wearing them. In this scene, you have on your  best black stockings too, or maybe your white ones, the kind that are so sheer and so expensive that they would run all over the place the moment you put them on in real life.

This fantasy is the antithesis of the night when you met him, the night when you lay in your tepid bath water, debating whether or not you should even go to the party. How bloated you felt, how tired, too lazy even to shave your legs ("I'll be wearing trousers anyway", you thought). "I'll just stay for one glass of wine, then come right home and get a good night's sleep," you said, as you reached for your oversized white cotton briefs. You know the ones I mean: the underwear your mother ordered from the Eatons catalogue for you when you were in grade ten, with the elastic all stretched out, but they never seem to wear out, and they're so damned comfortable that you cannot bring yourself to throw them out. On that night, in spite of your mortification, he never seemed to notice what you were wearing, but from that moment forward, you vowed to choose black over white, the future over the past, the uknown over the known.

You see what I mean. About the romance and consumerism crap. And this craze for striking parallels, as if our whole lives were bound up in finding perfect symmetry. Next you'll be wanting a happy ending to this story. Well, give me a break! Anyway, this is a story about death, and you started it all.

Back to the funeral: there you are, standing there so wearily, holding back your tears, looking so lovely and vulnerable, while all your friends gather about you with an endless litany about love, death, life and other banal profundities. The usual sort of dreary soliloquies that people utter to satisfy themselves when they are hungry to speak. But there is one tall, rather attractive man in the crowd, a former cohort of your husband's, who approaches you and says absolutely nothing, merely clasps your hand tightly, looks you in the eye searchingly for what seems an eternity, and then ...

Honestly, you're so prurient and predictable, waiting there. Drooling for the details of someone else's sordid fantasy. You're either all a bunch of hopeless romantics (I noticed how your hearts were thumping away back there, as if mere words could restore the lustre to your pathetic love lives), or you're silly degenerates who have not yet caught on to the fact that romance and the author are dead, that in this age of Velcro, zippers no longer get inconveniently stuck, and closure has become a moot point.

The point here is that you do want him gone from your life, and dead seems the only way to do it. For the entire following day, you are lost in the details of your new life. You envision long, drawn-out afternoons over cups of aromatic, freshly-roasted coffee, where your time is completely your own. No interruptions. True Independence. Glorious Self-Sufficiency. All that space to yourself, the luxury of solitude. You have long ago separated the possessions you value from his, determined what you could get for his Harley, sold off all his toys for imaginary sums, given away what you consider his junk to the Salvation Army. The living room expands in your head, the bedroom already seems tidier without any of his clutter. You have remodelled the kitchen in a new colour scheme, dispensed with the hideous shelves he bought for you "as a temporary measure only", indulged yourself in multitudinous and varied extravagant sensations. You picture yourself taking strolls through your favourite district, stopping at cafes whenever the whim should sweep you away. No mandatory meals. No regular sleep patterns. In fact, no clocks. And if you should choose, the occasional lover between your sheets, who will always leave early and never complicate your life with his insistencies, his demands to know how things between the two of you will end up. For it is a fact that many in that crowd will consider you a heroine, admire you for your stoic patience. How beautifully you hold up under such duress! What a tragedy! Such a young widow, with four children to raise all on her own! ...

But wait a minute! Is that his car you hear coming up the driveway? His key in the lock? In a panic, you scramble around the kitchen, adjust the silverware, place the wine on the table, set the garnish delicately on the salad dish, slip the plates into the oven to warm. Such reveries have made you famished, inordinately greedy, anxious to please. The candles are lit, and the flame mocks the surrounding darkness. Like magic, his face appears before yours as you encounter one another like intimate strangers, in that warm, familiar way ...

Enough drivel. After all, we know how long your private dinner will last before the procession of kids comes barging in. We also know who it is who will be stuck in the kitchen, scraping that candlewax off the linen, washing those dishes, digesting that hoard of complaints about brown-bag equality ("Well, if he gets peanut butter cookies, how come I only get a banana? It's not fair."). And your beloved skillfully avoids confrontation through his longstanding technique of sprawling out on the chesterfield and turning up the volume on the hockey game, the monotonous organ chords chanting their tireless refrain beneath the commentator's agitated but controlled analysis. Even hours later, the kids all miraculously asleep, their whining rhythms curiously echoed in the jarring stillness, there is a longing that you cannot quite put your finger on. Even as you tug him toward you, ignoring his protests that the Leafs are actually ahead, that you may be witnessing history in the making, you recognize that something rare is transforming your spirit. A crisis of faith. And look at the bewilderment in his eyes when you lead him to the bedroom, where you have lit dozens of tiny candles in random patterns on the bureau, the nightstand, even the floor. Is it guilt that arouses your ardour now? You stroke that pale brow, that warm flesh, and chastise yourself inwardly for having imagined this body cold and six feet under. And who can blame you if you believe you hear the orisons of the cherubim and the seraphim when you cry out, Oh God?

Yes, something unearthly has possessed you. You cannot fall asleep after, in spite of the reassuring rhythm of his snoring. You pace back and forth in the kitchen, staring mournfully out the window at the waning moon. Then you retreat beneath the covers, where you find him once more and shape his astonished sleeping form to your pleasure. He is still dreaming, his breathing nearly regular until his lashes flutter and he stammers, "My God, you are going to kill me!" You are almost reduced to a fit of passionate weeping.

Finally, somewhere in the nascent hours of the morning, as the light outside begins to overtake the darkness at a compelling speed, your memory sifts mental photographs, takes stock of favoured experiences, replays in slow motion, and then in inexplicably hastened flashes, those cherished moments you have hoarded like shiny pennies. Slows to a halt at one. When was it? Fourteen years ago? Can't be. Yes. All of you were there: the picnic basket of sandwiches from the deli, the buttery cheese, the silky chartreuse grass, the smell of such indefinably sharp, pulsing colours, too strong to be real, almost hearing the sizzling warmth of the sun on the back of your neck, how pungent and rusty the moist black earth smelled as you sat together with him, leaning against a tree whose bark was born of a texture neither of you could accurately describe, though it teased the tips of your tongues. The photograph fading to black and white now, its stark colours absorbed into the salt-and-pepper of the t.v. screen's effervescence, as you slide heavily and pleasantly into that tingling state that precedes sleep. Only the afterglow of the picture remains, as when you turn off the tube abruptly and a white ghost lunges off the screen at you, its distorted shape larger than life before it disappears entirely. Only the silhouette lingers momentarily behind the lids of your eyes, but you can distinguish quite clearly the outlines of two figures: you and your beloved, strolling hand in hand through that first day of spring, and on into eternity.

Liza Potvin

2 poems for Elvis

                                      I park my boat                               ]  running
                                                                                     walking, or even

                         for a cure just isn't enough. pity meetings.
                                                           the king is dead long live the king
it won't be long, ageing rockers are,
above all, pro-


                                                [                                  learn to overcome
                                                                                   your addictions

                                  if you still have your doubts,
                                                     killing someone, even in self-defence,

is not a solution. what do you want??

                                let's just hope they don't
hear about this in Memphis.

Ian Whistle

Reflections on the royal family

assembled by Jay Danforth

Reflections on the Royal Family

International Rules.

Start  in  ny10

Recently, I discovered if not the cure, the cause of cancer. It is the combination of all the causes wrapped together like a Christmas present. What a shame that the 20th Century's tendencies to human specialization, and specialized interests, has blinded most if not all to this. Furthermore in the process of this discovery, I made it one of my causal obsessions to experience a hundred per cent, the nature of the malady. My capacity to momently resemble others' minds and mannerisms  -  the regarded "empathic" quality   though separate from alterations in the function of "Will"  - an opposite to also functioning "reactionary" tendencies   - witch can seem reassuringly human compared  -  arguably acquiring this depth, came face to face with a cat, who may have been taking on my maladies... Outside the house the city was going down in the... Tho flit with good. All that causes lack of breath. It belongs to those with hearts too strong to die of heart disease. The laws of the lands. are such that one can only stand by and allow oneself to be buffeted by the homicidal winds of mankind. Every bit of tolerance this world shows me chemoenergetically transponded to production of carefully distended counterveiling waves of assumed faith. Every intolerance met with monkeylike configuring, warding off problems before they begin, this is what I learned from my cat, who lived 10 years mostly in a city where the average life of a cat is 2. How did he do it? Not merely by quickness and guile and sheer willfulness, but, and my fellows in the observatur, likely concur, by means of an aw but complete distrust of human beings. And he not only the bitter, angry, quick to deceive members of the community my activities as a planetary memory would prestall, but the vast majority. I went to the doctor after the last round of all this sickness in the world, reported the 14 results, and that a moment late in the interview, declared I know three or four hundred in roughly the same situation, to say that one cannot work in a donut shop, because one knows so many madmen, or that one longs for the Atlantic ocean, but of course, the seas are all one. This text is mysteriously, all at the wrong speed. My difficulty inability to tolerate others. This curtails tolerance shown me. Intolerance is met with goose kill, shu-untra, & distance.  I turn violent urges in on myself, but only theoretically. Mostly I am simply building a shield. I can never underestimate the readership of my writing.  My personality is the balloons that rise from the fusion, People shouldn't always lump efforts at dealing with toxicity in with a school of decadence and childishness. Its curious, that old shuntra "Satan, Get thee behind me"  -  For whatever instinctual reason I have always had it reversed: "Satan, get thee in front of me, so's I can jam my electrical left arm through your skull, and see exactly what role you're playing in this otherwise benign donkeytrot, in the acid rain." Rather I have been given to say "Good, get thee behind me," again an instinctual preference, for having the good behind me in many cases helps greatly in dealing with death and toxicity and publishing, and furthermore, if they are behind me I can imagine them safe, and assume "Evil" will have to get past me to trouble them, which lets me sleep easier. (And besides, my computer faces away from the door.) The evidence points again to this "Satanic" control of Christianity, from the Dark Ages forward, with pockets of the real thing functioning on the strength of the text, an interesting phenomenon. Fine forms of it exist in print from an age in which only a certain class could read of it. Today this is reversed. As a writer who engages the readership - writers, the poor and dispossessed, the young and the romantically minded, I've lately be concluding, in spite of all evidence otherwise, that in fact interconnecting people is the last thing we actually need. Rather let them have all their variant privacies, raise children, go to movies, and not be overwelmingly effected by the ever massing humanity. I shall model myself after my cat, great shamanist/dadaist revolutionary against greed and authority, all but tells me so: I have no choice but to equate this freedom with my life. Unfreedom to struggle for breath in the emotional calisthenic is a way of saying don't stick a fork in a toaster. This half hearted warning to my oppressors and persecutors, ad filial uluamilit My self-confidence has  long been a miserably-coiled negatively-charged snake lasting Newfoundland to San Francisco, a freakishly involved thing to encounter, een for me (sic) as I encounter it in segments and fragments which colour all my thoughts.  Each day once over anger with the Governments and Banks has waylayed even this activity. I "vote"   "we" annihilate them. And that said, perhaps I can proceed. Okay so try it, just to prove that you can't. Is that a reasonable hypothesis? Well, as I am in fact, absolutely non-violent, absolutely always careful with the lives of others, Yes, we know that, this is the one where you try to do it right. Thanx Daniel...


Mad Girl in Toronto

Brain, that accident beneath tangles
of long hair, is muddled and sore.
A dark skirt hangs to the big ankles,

head on tall knees. Nowhere
much will ever be any safer than
here homeless on Dundas, in danger

on a doorstep in a region of pure pain,
a lost brother become this lost sister.
If Hosanna won't remember the lines,

even Tremblay's words can never save her.
Say all the boy wanted was to be the beautiful one.
Will god invent a god to love her?

David Helwig

the philosophy of composition

this is how i learned it
        /throw in a conspicuous feature, the
accomplishment of instant or commercial labour, see,
when sung out in a group. sung out in a group.
collaboration is never the same

alone, dear beast, like conversations
         or sex, one sided the wrong side of the road,
elaborating a crucial image or a theme.
none of this can save me. catching up,
echo, sleeping on the couch. maybe
as short as a single word,
      or as long as a stanza.

rob mclennan

just stay at the machine

all day long if necessary to keep the beans floating in the water to twitch like fantastic blades of spandex ozone hoops turning windows into playthings which you can stare out of into the void of the world I am in this little room she is in the hospital I am alone in this apartment without her I am nothing it feels like but that's not true must detach myself from her and be on my own writing wilting flowers instead of churning out dead heads without pouring reason into a bowl with cereal she keeps me sane but does she this is the question of the moment could I be alone can I be alone and not take the medication to keep me asleep can I stay at this machine and write without her here to keep me company I drive myself crazy so bored with everything and yet I read about Kurt S. in the newspaper the other day so all is not lost but I am so alone in this place just writing about it and filled with good company from the printed page listening to their advice and it is always to just keep writing and all else will make sense and I don't want to go to the grocery story but I must because there is no food left in the house and I am writing a bunch of crap but it doesn't matter what matters is that I am writing and that is what matters it is a style of writing that I am developing lumps to tire easily of this boredom should unite sugar with phlegm I entire the demons out of their habitats and wonder what if sugar could unite with phlegm and become something delicious but I guess not it's just that there's nothing to write about and I wish I wrote this piece altogether differently but it's too late now what's written it what's done and I'm sure there's nothing much that can be sorry about storms listening to frogs again against the grain elevator mechanic solid like a salesman for plumbing sugar onto grate feeling nestled in there wondering did it magic music come from the spheres I was wide awake when I heard it but now I hear nothing and all is a dull world and I write about it and it makes me feel a little bit better to get the words down and shoved into her my cock the size of a baseball bat for some reason and it just became this lost cause that illuminated everything to twice its normal size and I battled with the wind and sharpened my skates till I was Tuesday and Wednesday had not happened yet and I began to pour out my guts to her but it didn't help I remained in a state of depression which would not life and so all I could do was be myself and if I couldn't make it into the hospital to visit with her then i couldn't make it into the hospital to visit with her even though she visited me many times when I was in and she comes with me to my doctor's appointments I feel guilty but I am me and she is she and it's time I owned up to myself and kept the clear weather opened up to harp's way and I felt the piano beneath my fingers and it felt good to be back at that machine and I solid did not worship this finger folded over and I pounced upon the youngsters with their dyed hair and their pierced noses and I just kept writing there was nothing else to do and I was repeating myself in the act of repeating myself it was just a dull world when you were sane and not insane like that time when I was insane and the world appeared to be a much more exciting place to dwell now I dwell in my writing and if figures not that salad language is the way that I write down through the centuries if htere could be something totally not there without this I am nothing I could just go on and on and I must go on and on or else I'll end up back in bed staring at the ceiling and I hate that so instead of that I write words that sometimes make sense and other times makes no sense so stop making sense was their motto and I took up in part of it to just delve into the motto of stop making sense which was difficult because you were always devolving into making sense it was inescapable you had to write about something that always came up that always comes up so you look around at your surroundings at your circumstances and you end up writing about them and when I examine my situation I come up with depression and boredom and that's inevitably what I end up writing about and then I come to this place where I feel that I am at the end of words and I say to myself that's impossible and so I write the word "purple" and I continue to write about whatever there is to write about purple noses illuminate sugar and phlegm that is a nasty thought that resurfaces occasionally and I am forced to write it down because there is nothing else to do and I justify the margins the margins where I live and it keeps getting hotter in here and I just keep writing slowly sugar if nose cream light burnt out eyes yes to sugar if nose cream that laughing sugar nose cream no nonsense please if there could be this much I might sound out an alarm which might persuade the being from the other laughing galaxies to come to visit with us and we might have fun comparing notes about what it's like to be alive I wonder about these things that matter to a lot of people and I just sit and wait for words to come to me and I'm writing another longish piece of shit to swear at whether there could be no punctuation to please myself of meaning words slowly erupting on the screen should that could if there would be but there is not and I am slowly writing down words as they come to me and it is a gift of words to pull out sandwiches from their place of opportunity I linger in the tuning fork to remain splendidly gifted to swear this opening could evaporate tuning forks and swear at sandwiches to illuminate bears hugging one another in the early morning just watering the planets with the waste material turning soft in the night should there could be something stolen out of wedlock to parade about town with the weather turning inside out I shopped till I dropped and there was nothing to write about so I wrote about nothing and in the writing about nothing I wrote about something it was a miracle

Greg Evason

cherry red

put the coin in the slot and turn the handle
I got red   your favourite   and consider keeping it for you
putting it in my pocket against my warm thight
but I hesitate   and put it in my warm mouth instead
and imagine this red staining my teeth the colour of false cherry
cherry red   artificial cherry flavour   and almost choke on the sweet of it
imagine you dissolving in my mouth   and almost choke

Catherine Jenkins


The excerpt this time is from Life On the Hard Shoulder, a book by my favourite cartoonist in Britain, Annie Lawson. You can't buy her books in Canada, but you can order them from  Annie Lawson, PO Box 910, London SE14 6DD, ENGLAND. Write for a catalogue.

Wet Lettuce at Therapy Group (75k)

Other things

I know I wrote about television last issue and it would seem like I could hardly sink any lower, and now I am writing about television for two-year olds. But I have to tell you that what you should be watching is Teletubbies. This is a British show for toddlers, now shown every morning on TVO, and it is just the strangest, most surreal, druggiest half hour of television you are ever going to see. Like Monty Python for babies, but more weird.

As you may have gathered from the recent media hard-sell, the Teletubbies are four terrycloth humanoid creatures named Tinky-Winky, Dipsy, Laa Laa, and Po (yes, really), who live in the Tubbytronic Superdome among psychedelically green fields filled with fake flowers and real rabbits. They appear to be two women, one gay male Tubby and one straight guy -- this gay theme seems to have been a slightly later addition but creeps in regularly, e.g. when Dipsy, the presumably straight guy, runs away screaming because "it's his turn to wear the skirt".

Anyway, all four of them have tv screens on their stomachs, on which they show film clips of children talking about their dad's truck or dancing to a jazz band or whatever. The rest of the time they wander the fields. One time they find a magic drum that causes flowers to change colour, clouds to flip over and objects to leap from place to place, until, says the narrator, "it simply disappeared". Another time four windows appear in the sky, then gradually a house appears around them, and then a strange figure runs around behind the curtains muttering and finally opens one window to reveal a puppet with a blue hat sticking out its tongue and going "mwaa maa bwaa baa mrrr blluu", then the house fades away again. End of sequence.

Then another time Dipsy goes for a walk, then he goes home and dances around singing "home home home home home" for at least one full minute, and I swear it was to the tune of Monty Python's Spam song (remember the one, "Spam spam spam spam ..."?).

Then there's this big sun with a real baby's face inside it making really strange baby noises. And at the end of every show a telephone receiver comes out of the ground and intones, "Time for Tubby-bye-bye. Time for Tubby-bye-bye." These telephone receivers pop out of the fields all the time actually, like vegetation,  and sometimes they sing nonsense rhymes and sometimes they just pretty up the landscape.

But you know what? It's actually really nice. I like it. And it's perfectly free of Barney-type moralizing about how I love you, you love me. It's just about, you know, getting into the moment, more or less.

Maria says, "So what this proves is that two-year-olds are stoned." Given Simone explained to me today that the sun was shining, "because it's really quite new of dragons and clowns," Maria may have a point. Still, you have to admit that's as good a reason as any for the sun to be shining ...

Books I Liked Lately

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles, Haruki Murakami, Knopf, 1997: This is a great big crazy book from rockin' Japanese novelist Murakami. It's about lost cats and confused marriages and sex and betrayal and loyalty and family pain and Japanese history and right-wing populism and a man down a well and all kinds of other things. You should read all his other books too, but particularly this one.

Henry Kafka and Other Stories, Stuart Ross, ECW, 1997: According to the famous Bert Archer of the Toronto Star, these stories would be all right if "published in, say, a zine", due to what he considers their "lack of artistry" (not to mention "what could most precisely be called extended anacoluthon"). It would probably be better if I didn't even mention the guy, but honestly I don't know why he's writing about small press if he's just going to spend his time trying to insult both zines as a class, and a book of stories which I enjoyed very much. So read this book and tell Bert Archer what you think of him. I especially liked the story about the man who thinks there's a towel inside him. It was surprisingly poignant and touching. Also "Confession" and "Deserts", but basically I liked all of them. But then, I guess I'm just a zine editor so what do I know.

and a zine to check out --

Hip Mama probably won't do much for you if you don't have a kid, but if you do, it's an amazing antidote to all those shiny respectable consumerist parenting magazines. This is a scattershot collection of poems, reflections, news and essays for and by moms who may be on welfare or working at shitty jobs or making art and trying to get by, may be raising kids on their own or with other women (or on the other hand with dads who stay at home), may be lesbians, political activists, witches, sex-trade workers, poets or any of the many other people living outside the boundaries of the American Dream. Yeah! Hip Mama, PO Box 9097, Oakland, CA, 94613, USA, $25 (US money, unfortunately) for 4 issues.

Cartoon by Mary Hutchinson

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