|The Toronto Daily Mail|
25 May 1881
|Motley: Verses Grave and GayJ.W. Bengough|
Toronto: William Briggs, 1895
A Civil Servant's Awful Victoria Day Poem
|The Toronto Daily Mail|
25 May 1881
|Motley: Verses Grave and GayJ.W. Bengough|
Toronto: William Briggs, 1895
The afternoon was given to the more serious part of the school work – writing, arithmetic, and spelling, while, for those whose ambitions extended beyond the limits of the public school, the master had begun a Euclid class, which was at once his despair and his pride. In the Twentieth school of that date there was no waste of the children's time in foolish and fantastic branches of study, in showy exercises and accomplishments, whose display was at once ruinous to the nerves of the visitors, and to the self-respect and modesty of the children. The ideal of the school was to fit the children for the struggle into which their lives would thrust them, so that the boy who could spell and read and cipher was supposed to be ready for his life work. Those whose ambition led them into the subtleties of Euclid's problems and theorems were supposed to be in preparation for somewhat higher spheres of life.Schoolhouse aside, the unifying element of the novel is religion. As in The Man from Glengarry, it is the flawless, saintly Mrs Murray – and not her ordained husband – who serves as spiritual guide, leading boys and young men the path they will follow tho become clergymen. Their number includes cynical city boy Jack Craven, the last in a line of schoolteachers.
In 1959, when his novel The Pyx was published, John Buell was a 32-year old professor at Loyola College, where I was a first-year student and he saved my life.The first half of Sean's introduction has just been published in Concordia University Magazine. You can read it and the rest of the issue online – gratis – through this link. Sean's piece features on the third to last page.
A stolen car took me there. Hollywood was a grotesque paradise for me, with wide streets lit up in neon, hundreds of peep shows where a guy could see a pornographic movie for a quarter, fifty cents if it was really raunchy. Teenage boys and senior citizens seemed to keep the place in business. Roaming the sidewalks were real-life versions of the girls in the porno flicks, painted-up prostitutes, some barely into their teens, others obviously pushing fifty. And liquor flowed freely everywhere.Ernie Hollands is a smalltime crook looking to make it big in Hollywood. He thinks that pulling off heists in Tinseltown – as opposed to, say, Moose Jaw – will make him "someone with class, with clout, with a great reputation." Things don't go quite as planned. His first few days are wasted whoring, drinking, and selling stolen wristwatches. Eventually, he sets his sites on a Hollywood Boulevard grocery store: "They were doing big business, with customers swarming the aisles, and cash registers ringing like church bells, as the cashiers took in fives and tens, the twenties, the mounds of ones."
My eyes fell on the policeman's leg. The wound, just below the knee, was pumping blood furiously. I was mortified.The cop grabs the gun with one hand, "grasping his bloody leg" with the other:
"Take the gun!" I shouted, holding the weapon out to him. "Take the gun!"
"I should put a bullet tight through you," he growled, and I knew he was serious. In the pit of my stomach, I was sick to see what I had done. And, in the moment, my whole life – all forty-two years of it – made me sick. I had accomplished nothing, I was little more than a wart on society's skin. I was slime. And this seemed to prove it to me, finally.An autobiography that reads like a pulp novel, Hooked begins with the author's final crime – then flashes back to his childhood. There's nothing to envy. The son of a sixteen-year-old mother and forty-seven-year-old father, Ernie grows up surrounded by siblings in a two-room
"Go ahead," I replied as I stared down the barrel of the gun. "You'd be doing me a favor."
|Ernie Hollands at 17|
I was making two or three thousand dollars a month, all tax-free. The taxpayers of Canada were paying my way, providing my housing, my utilities, my meals, my entertainment. I sat in my cell, smoking cigars by the case, watching television, reading filthy magazines, tying flies, and counting the money.Those words appear on page 113 of this 146-page autobiography. The thirty or so pages that follow would have come as a surprise had the book's cover not promised a dramatic "before and after" saga I have ever read. What follows lives up to that grand claim.
On March 12, 1975, at two a.m., I got out of bed and I knelt in my cell in Milhaven Prison. I held my Bible and I raised my hands in the air. With tears streaming down my face, I let Jesus set me free.The beginning of a remarkable scene, it's very well described in the book, but I much prefer Ernie's account from a later appearance on 100 Huntley Street:
Most of all, congratulations and thanks to editor Emily Donaldson, who not only put the whole thing together, but earned a second nomination for her essay "Pinball: A Walking Tour". Emily's essay is available online here at the CNQ website.Chris AndrechekTobias CarrollVincent ColistroDaniel DonaldsonAlex GoodSpencer GordonKasper HartmanDavid MasonMaurice MierauDavid NickelAlexandra OliverMark SampsonSethRobert Earl StewartKaitlin Tremblay
The play you are about to see deals with an imaginary H-Bomb attack on New York City, and with the measures Civil Defense would take in such an event for the rescue and protection of the population in and around the city.Davidson cuts the first two pages of Shadow on the Hearth, in which Veda calls in sick, and begins with the Mitchells – Gladys (Phyllis Thaxter), Barbie (Patsy Bruder), Ginny (Patty McCormack) and Jon (uncredited) at breakfast. It's a short scene, though it establishes all we need to know about the family and the busy day ahead: Jon is off to work, the girls are off to school, the maid is ill, and there's washing to be done.
"Air raid? No. No, no, it can't be! Children! Jon! Clouds of smoke! Coming up from the south, from New York! Mrs Jackson! Mrs Jackson, what's happened! Don't you hear me? Oh, please! Is nobody home?"This last bit is yelled out her kitchen window. Gladys rushes through the dining room and living room to the vestibule closet and then the telephone:
"Children at school. Jon! Jon at the office in New York. Oh, New York. New York. Operator? Long distance. No answer. Try the local operator. Operator? Somebody? No answer from anybody! Children. Must get down to school."She throws on her raincoat and is almost out the door when the radio she'd turned on moments earlier comes to life:
"Your attention, please. We interrupt our normal program to cooperate in security and Civil Defense measures as requested by the United States government. This is a CONELRAD radio alert. Listen carefully. This station is now leaving the air. Tune your standard radio receiver to 640 or 1240 kilocycles for official Civil Defense instructions and news. Once again – Your attention, please! Your attention, please! This is your official Civil Defense broadcaster. An explosion has just taken place in New York City, which has believed to have resulted from the dropping of a hydrogen bomb. The bomb was probably carried by a guided missile launched from a submarine at sea! All Civil Defense workers report to emergency stations immediately.""The children!" she cries. Gladys rushes to leave, but stops when she hears this:
Stay where you are, unless you are in immediate danger! Do not attempt to join your children if they are in school! They are being well taken care of where they are! Do not try to telephone! Remember: radioactivity may make food and water in open containers dangerous. Use canned and otherwise protected foods until further notice. Do not attempt to enquire about relatives in New York – as yet there is no information!
Watching the adaptation was sort of like having a different lens on each of my eyes. One part of me was saying, "They killed my book. They've killed my book." The other part was saying , "But they did the best they could to translate it into television."I wonder about this.
The holy Lenten season
At last has passed away.
And to-day we celebrate
Our glorions Easter Day.
"Reserrexit sicut dixit"
The Angels sweetly sing,
And in humble adoration
Pay homage to their King.
"He is risen," Yes, we knew it;
He had but the word to say
And His glorious, sacred Body
Rose from out the tomb that day.
Christ has risen," Alleluia,
Let us all our treasures bring
To the feet of our sweet Savior,
To our dear triumphant King.
Only one sweet tiny treasure
Jesus asks with love divine,
'Tis your heart — then won't you give it
To your risen Lord and mine?
"For those of you who have just tuned in, we repeat: several atomic bombs of unknown origin landed in and near the harbor of New York City this afternoon. The first explosion occurred at about 1:15 P.M., Eastern Standard Time, and was followed by others over a period estimated to be approximately one half hour. It is know that no bombs were dropped after two o'clock. Eyewitnesses state that the first bomb exploded underwater at the mouth of the East River, affecting harbor shipping in New York and Brooklyn, and substantially damaging a large part of the lower tip of Manhattan Island."
"He knows everything about atom bombs. He was at Oak Ridge and everything… Only he got black-listed or something on account of refusing to do war work, and making a lot of speeches and being on committees, so he had to go be a teacher."Yes, he had to go to be a teacher.
"Well, nobody else knew either," he assured her. "Nobody who wasn't in it. When you want to win you got to keep a poker face and play it close to the vest. And any time the government let out any information about what we were going some scientist would start yelling about warmongers, or some reds would have a demonstration."Turner turns up frequently, revelling in his newfound authority, and doing prep work to put the moves on Gladys. As evacuation looks imminent, he tries to dictate where she will live and what she will be doing. Maid Veda reenters the story, dragged in by soldiers who are investigating whether she is a foreign agent. Neighbour Edie plants the seed that maybe, just maybe, the Civil Defense would prefer people like herself dead. We learn that Peter Spinelli, the young medical doctor who accompanies Turner on his route, was denied funding for his studies because of his association with pacifist groups. The press is censored and then disappears, replaced by government broadcasting that consists almost exclusively of lengthy lists of casualties.
"Five thirty-seven A.M., Friday, May seventh,” a hoarse voice intoned. “That is the historic moment. We have just received official news from General Headquarters. The war is over! The enemy conceded at 5:37 A.M., Eastern Standard Time, just five minutes ago. Ladies and gentleman, the national anthem!"As for Jon, he somehow survived the bombs that rain down on Manhattan. In fleeting scenes – vignettes, really – he escapes an infirmary and makes his way to Westchester. Nearing home, he's shot through the shoulder, loses a good amount of blood, and is carried the rest of the way by good Dr Spinelli. Merril's original ending had Jon die. Doubleday wanted a happy ending... so why am I left with the impression that things are only going to get worse?
Judd came slowly down the walk. Myra saw the little woman timidly draw him aside, heard her speak. "... I was thinking about Pat," the woman faltered, begging the fevered eyes that looked down at her now. "Pat used to play the fiddle you know. But is was only for the old-time squares and the likes of that. He couldn't play jazz.... And he was a very good man really.... Well, you remember how it happened. That time his car hit the bridge he was... he was coming home from playing that French wedding party... but he was a good man, really.... Don't you think?...."As I say, we've seen characters like Jurd before in American literature. His kind may feature in Caldwell, but I haven't read Caldwell. While I haven't encountered anyone like him in any other Canadian novel, I'm sure they're there somewhere.
The old woman dared say no more. She didn't have to.
Judd said, "Playing the fiddle for the lust of the flesh, Sister? And for a pagan wedding?" He shook his head slowly, with a terrible finality. "The wrath of ou God is an awful thing, Sister. An awful thing!"
"When a lad is mature in his body and not in his mind, he's likely to get a lot of urge that could be mighty dangerous to an attractive girl like you. especially when he's strong."Judd's warning appears in The Praying Mantis, but not in The Pillar of Fire. It wasn't until I read it that I realized Matt was an adult; the shorter version somehow had me thinking he was an adolescent. News Stand Library was never known for its editing – authors were lucky if their names were right – but I can't really blame the nameless for the
It's a common lament that Hopwood winners don't keep on writing. The idea is that the novel, or play, or series of poems with which they won their awards somehow ended rather than began something. Their art was an attempt to impose order on hitherto clashing elements in their own experiences. It was, in short, autobiographical, autocathardic, and, alas, artistically suicidal.Objects: One of News Stand Library's more competent productions, The Pillar of Fire enjoyed just one printing. I bought my copy in 2012 from bookseller and poet Nelson Ball. Price: C$25.00.
– A.M. Eastman, Quarterly Review, August 7, 1954