amongst books

amongst books

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Urban Graffiti X: this is not your tea and crumpet CanLit

Urban Graffiti is published by Greensleeve Editions out of Edmonton. Volume X is a packed issue of great fiction, some cool photography and a bit of poetry too. Mark McCawley is the publisher/editor of the magazine. Mark says "Urban Graffiti is an irregularly published litzine of transgressive, discursive, post-realist writing concerned with the struggles of hard edged urban living, alternative lifestyles, deviant culture - presented in their most raw and unpretentious form."

If this is volume X, i’m assuming there are 9 more and i’d like to get my hands on them. The stories in X (thankfully the issue is available on line) are what are keeping me up at 4am. They are gritty; each one is unique and each one presents an aspect of humanity that society is fucked up over.

In Philip Quinn’s story, Transformer, we have murder in the voice of a serial killer. It’s chilling and brilliant. It’s disturbing to me that i feel compassion for the main character. i love being messed with like that.

In Bart Plagenta’s Beer Mystic: a novel of inebriation and light, we have forbidden desire of a jaded yet romantic drunk in love with a sixteen year old girl.

In Bill Brown’s Green Liquid Soap. we have incest between brothers, sadistic abuse, the consequences of bullying, the possibilities for revenge.

In Neale McDewitt’s tale, Anger on the Outskirts of Arcadia, we have obesity, anger, degradation and fucked up desire.

The language is powerful, tight, lyrical yet unsentimental. These stories make me want to write fiction again. All of these stories will likely wake you up in some way; they will keep you awake at 4am. if a story can do that, in my opinion, it is highly successful. the fact that Urban Graffitti X has managed to do that all the way through its thirty something pages is not just a success, it’s a bloody miracle.

You can read this on line for free over at the Greensleeve Editions blog. And you should. Right now. I’m excited that there is another publication,that, like Front&Centre (published by Black Bile Press in Ottawa) takes up the challenge of publishing stories that are not sweet and pretty Canlit tea with grandma as the snow falls.

I’m still haunted by this from Philip Quinn,’s Transformer:

“One night I picked up this red head. I pulled my part out and she sucked it, moaning like she actually enjoyed it.

I put my hands around her neck and tried to twist her into something else.
She didn’t become something else. She just went stiff, resistant, made it very difficult to work with her. Then I had to stuff her into a green garbage bag to keep her out of the way.

I decided to plant her in the ground like a flower. Two weeks later, I saw a hand sticking out that an animal had gnawed at.”

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