A.J. Somerset's Blog

October 13, 2013

All has been quiet around here. Life goes on. Kids go off to school and come home and demand homework help and meals and dishes must be done. The day job makes its demands. And on top of that I spend last fall, the winter, and this spring writing a second book.

That book is still in the editing cycle. I was surprised, then, to find that it has an ISBN and cover art and that it exists in the universe of Goodreads:
Arms: The Culture and Credo of the Gun

Writing this book was exhausting, not only because of its tight deadline (one year) and the frightening volume of research it involved, but because of the creeping horror of the ideas it explores -- ideas that appear almost reasonable when reiterated as the cliches they have become, but become steadily more appalling when dissected in detail.

It's exciting, then, too see it now in concrete form, even though that concrete form is not yet concrete. This is the first real indication that all that work is actually a book. I can't wait to share it.

(Thanks to Goodreads' perverse inability to recognize that "A.J. Somerset" and "Andrew Somerset" are the same person, I am not me and this book is not mine yet ... on Goodreads at least.)
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Published on October 13, 2013 09:31 • 39 views • Tags: arms

October 24, 2010

I am back in London for the weekend, following my appearance at the Ottawa International Writers Festival to promote Combat Camera, and am just now getting time to post. The dog has occupied much of my time. She has had several adventures with mud over the weekend, necessitating daily baths. She has, moreover, chewed up my iPod earbuds. But of canine misdeeds, I am endlessly forgiving.

The high point of the Ottawa festival, for me, was the opportunity to meet Joshua Ferris. I had little opportunity to chat with him, unfortunately, but he seemed to me a classy and gracious guy who takes a serious attitude towards writing. I was most impressed when he was approached, just before the show, by a fan who writes for the Carleton student paper. In response to his request for an interview, Ferris said he’d be happy to, if there was time. And although the event ran long and there was, in fact, no time, there was Ferris at the end, making time for the interview. Furthermore, he remembered the guy’s name. Classy.

Less so Ken Finkleman, whose asinine contribution to the evening I shall never forget. On getting up to read, third in line, he began by declaring that readings are futile, that writers are not performers, and that H. Nigel Thomas (who read first) was a case in point. He went on to declare that “this venue sucks,” to disparage literary events, the literary crowd, and fiction writers in general, and to interrupt others (and the moderator) during the panel discussion. Further notable contributions to the panel discussion included his question to Joshua Ferris: “I’m sorry, I’ve forgotten your name?”

One audience member was moved to come up to H. Nigel Thomas at the signing table (at which Ken Finkleman did not deign to sit) and to say, “I’m so sorry you had to go through that.” And Ferris, back at the hotel, left the room when the topic came up, saying over his shoulder that he felt badly for the audience.

As for me, I am, as noted above, endlessly forgiving of canine misdeeds.

It can hardly escape the reader’s attention that Ken Finkleman is not a dog.

Fortunately, I won't be sharing the podium with him again. In the coming week, I'm off to Montreal, where I'll read with Alexander MacLeod and Harold Hoefle, and then to Kingston, where I'll be reading with Alexander MacLeod again. In between, I'll be watching Alexander MacLeod and Emma Donoghue read at the Ottawa International Writers Festival.
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Published on October 24, 2010 15:42 • 170 views

October 16, 2010

Things have been busy.

The first spasm of readings, which took place in late September, is over. This was followed by a guest stint at the National Post's Afterword blog, and a bunch of other interviews and articles and so on.

Two of those were a podcast interview at The Enthusiasticast, in which I put in a plug for Thomas McGuane's Ninety-Two in the Shade, one of my favorite books, and a radio interview on CKCU FM 93.1 in Ottawa, where I'll find myself this coming week.

The podcast is here:

And the radio interview can be found on host Christine McNair's website (you'll have to scroll down a bit), here:

Now I get to take a few moments to catch my breath before the next spasm of readings begins: the Ottawa International Writers Festival, next week, followed by readings in Montreal, Kingston, Toronto (again), Waterloo, London (again), Toronto (again again), and Waterloo (again)....

I'll also be attending Alexander MacLeod's reading with Emma Donoghue et al at the Ottawa festival, as that event happens to lie between Montreal and Kingston, and it just seems silly to go home.

Finally, I'm looking forward to this week's announcement of the ReLit Awards in Ottawa, where Amy Jones is shortlisted for her short story collection, What Boys Like and Other Stories. Amy won the Metcalfe-Rooke Award for this book last year, and although I anticipated some kind of ceremony in which she would pass me the tiara, we haven't met.
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Published on October 16, 2010 12:14 • 86 views

October 10, 2010

Canada Reads, our radio version of Survivor, but with books, has a whole new format this year, and I'm less than impressed with the change.

I explain why on the National Post's "The Afterword" blog:
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Published on October 10, 2010 12:17 • 116 views

September 27, 2010

This week, I'll be guest-editing (read: writing a series of posts for) the National Post's Afterword book blog. It's one of the better book blogs in Canada.

At least, it was until I showed up.

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Published on September 27, 2010 13:04 • 86 views

September 19, 2010

I'm just back from the Eden Mills Writers Festival, where I took in excellent readings by Alexander MacLeod, Leon Rooke, and John Ehle. I came away with a good haul of books, too: MacLeod's Light Lifting (signed), Ray Smith's Cape Breton is the Thought Control Centre of Canada, Kathleen Winters' boYs (signed), Carol Off's The Ghosts of Medak Pocket and Leon Rooke's Pope and Her Lady (also signed).

The highlight of the festival, for me, was watching Leon Rooke do his reading from Pope and Her Lady with a copy of my novel poking out of his cargo pocket.

I also got to meet Alexander MacLeod, who I'll be reading with several times this fall in London, Windsor, and elsewhere. His reading -- an excerpt from his short story, "Miracle Mile" -- was excellent, and I'm looking forward to digging into his book.
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Published on September 19, 2010 19:03 • 129 views

September 15, 2010

Yack! Is it September already? Where does the time go?

Things have been busy here recently what with back to school and dogs and that thing I sometimes do, called "work." It's the busy season for that.

It's also the busy season for the book world, what with all the fall books coming out. Which includes mine. The hour is almost upon us. It's next frigging week! So this might be a handy time to draw attention to a couple of upcoming events:

- London launch: 20th September at the Central Library, 7 pm
- Winnipeg International Writers Festival: 21st September
...Campus program, 4 pm
...Mainstage, 8 pm
- Windsor, Ontario: 24th September, Phog Lounge
- Toronto launch (TINARS): 28th September, The Garrison, 7:30 pm

You can tell I was a technical writer from them there bullet points. (Allow me to comment at this time on how badly Goodreads' blogging system sucks.) And if you want more details on these and other events, you can check my handy events listing here on Goodreads, or join the Facebook page, where all the announcements will get announced. You'll find that page at, uh, Facebook.

How do I feel about all this? Well, a bit like throwing up.
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Published on September 15, 2010 06:04 • 82 views

September 2, 2010

Today’s news is that the book is here. Which is pretty exciting, I guess, by which I mean that it should be really exciting but when you know it’s coming and what it’s going to look like and so on, and you’ve already fondled the advance review copy to get that feeling of “Oh, wow, my first book,” then maybe it’s no longer quite as exciting as it should be. But it’s still pretty neat.

Which brings us to the next problem: selling the thing.

Fortunately, I have a plan for that. It involves paper, a black marker, and a gluestick:

This thing's gonna sell like hotcakes!
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Published on September 02, 2010 14:33 • 95 views

September 1, 2010

So the news is that Combat Camera is printed and in the publisher's hands (that choice of words being a means of avoiding the possessive of "Biblioasis"), and I am awaiting my copies.

I was waiting with great excitement, but no more. You see, this thing by Jonathon Franzen is on sale now, and I have it on good authority that it is the best novel ever, and that literature is over. There is no longer any point in writing novels. The novel is done.

So here I am again, always late to the party.
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Published on September 01, 2010 09:25 • 80 views

August 23, 2010

You can now read Claire Cameron's review of Combat Camera online.
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Published on August 23, 2010 19:06 • 93 views