Dancing with a switchblade provides some of Truman’s most mature work to date where the burning rage of youth begins to make way to a better understanding of the trappings of the world.
Openly influenced by the likes of Al Purdy and Charles Bukowski, it combines influences from some of the world’s best lyricists in the likes of Henry Rollins, Trent Reznor or Johnny Cash.
This collection is a celebration of all things of life: hurt, pain, anxiety, beauty, love, fighting the good fight, sticking to what you know and doing more with less. Most of all, Dancing with a Switchblade is a celebration of the creative act of writing and hopes to provide an enduring snapshot of the working class today.
You can find it HERE! at ten poems a buck for over 100 pages of poetry for 2.99 US.
The writing life is about to get really busy again very fast.
I will likely attend the Brooklyn Book Fair (more on that as soon as I can confirm) in September and while the next novel is in the capable hands of the editor (more on that in a few weeks too), I’ve been confirmed for a panel at Bouchercon in October and the Montreal Noir Launch in November followed in 2018 by the next novel in the D’Arcy Kennedy series which I can’t tell you about juuuuuust yet.
I wanted to take a few days of my rare vacation time to crunch in a side project that is dear to me before getting back to shelling out massive amounts of words-per-hour for the man.
So here it is : the cover for Dancing with a Switchblade (Selected Poems)
Similar to Northern Gothic and Crass, this collection consists of about two/three years of poetry I wrote on the side of my main projects. They’ll be available at less than 12 for a buck (2.99 total) in ebook format only during the next few days as I get all the files in order.
You’ll notice the cover has that kind of saturated texture aesthetic I really enjoy working with these days. This is by far some of the most mature work I ever managed to pull off and I hope you’ll like it.
Some of these were posted here in the past, a bunch of them weren’t. I’ll take out the older posts from this website as well so they’ll be available only as a part of a collection that makes sense to me.
That’s pretty much it. Thanks and take care,
The feeling of failure, the will to quit, that shit doesn’t come from the act of writing.
The will to quit comes from the lack of basic need, food, shelter, rest…comes from the social need of “success” that is measured by the number of sales.
But none of that takes into account the notion of a successful writing session. My writing process comes in very intense outbursts of frantic writing. They come as single hours of insane typing where the entirety of the world doesn’t exist anymore. My favorite moments happen when I can’t even keep up with the words in my head. My hands can’t type fast enough, sometimes I even beat Word to it’s speed. The letters appear half a second after I typed them and a full second after they came up in my mind.
The best moments happen when I go blind on the screen and the words just come out. It’s an absolute mess to clean up but I did learn to maximize those creative outbursts in time. Making sense of the emotion, you can do that later when you mind is no longer on fire.
It’s very hard to fall into that one moment of absolute genius or madness. I think music and art is a better place for that mind frame than writing but it’s not impossible. If happens, every now and then, I manage to fall into that insane grove that only people like Trent Reznor seem to find all the time and the words come out. Weird shit comes out, very good shit comes out.
The problem with it is that more often than not, it can’t stand on its own. It’s just a piece of something that could be and nothing more. It’s a few pages at a time. I can go insane, frantic even, and shell out 1200 words in twenty minutes, that has happened. But those words won’t make any sense to anyone, maybe not even myself.
Because the mind frame I was in when I was writing so frantically only existed in that very singular moment. They can only be a collection of momentary lapses of reason.
I mean. You play a riff or you play an entire song… it may last 3 minutes. If you’re Neurosis, it will last 8 or 10 or maybe more, sometimes. That song has a few parts, 3, sometimes 4, rarely 5 or more. They repeat themselves and add on to each other and I love music. Music is absolutely necessary to the “emotion” of writing. But the writing itself doesn’t really work as répétitions of 3 or 4 or maybe 5 parts…
An album is twelve songs, an art expo is a handful of artworks and each and every one of them is perfectly valid, but a novel is a marathon, not sprint.
A novel means locking down all the feelings, the need to rest and the will to stop. A novel means writing when your body is ready to quit. It means to keep going, one line at a time, the way you count your meters at the end of a long race you’re just fucking done with.
It’s not about losing your mind onstage and feeling the single riff through your fingers like the world depended on it. Writing is a slow game and it’s strange to think of it that way, but it’s true.
It’s very, very hard to make something out of a hundred little moments of madness. Poetry works like that, songs work like that. You can put all the insanity of the universe in a few short pages, sometimes a few short words. I still think some of my best work comes in those short bursts, but the need to write novels is still there.
So you take those moments of absolute genius and you make a story out of it. I mean, A novel is 70 000 words, 80 000 words, 90 000 words. It’s ridiculous to write a novel, what an insane enterprise. Why do that at all?
I just need to do it. After all this time, the need is still there. I fucking hate it sometimes, but it’s still there.
And of course you could say “you just need to add up all those moments of pure genius/insanity. JUST those moment,” and that would make a standalone novel or story or anything else. That would be a beautiful thing and I think I’ll get there one day. I hope I make it there one day. It’s the kind of thing that can keep me up at night. CAN I WRITE A BOOK LIKE THAT?
So far I only think Burroughs has managed to do it with Naked Lunch and he probably lost his mind right there and then.
It’s getting harder for me not to go there though. I’ll admit to that. This kind of FRANTIC writing is kind of calling me. It’s a bit obsessive when I think about it. The simple act of writing is not enough anymore. I’ve filled pages and novels and it’s all fun and good, but the need to create something more than myself is still there.
I was good at hard realism and I’m still good at hard realism. But I still have this need to break all the rules again. I haven’t done that in so long, I think I’m ready for it.
I don’t know if it’ll be successful. I don’t really know at all.
Feels like this one’s out of my hands for once.
“We’ll see in a year,” I keep telling myself. “We’ll see in a year.”
This is an anthology that’s been long in the making and it’s finally here.
I am super happy to be a part of it and wish to extended exceptional thanks to Mr. John McFetridge who could very well be the nicest human being in Canada.
Link is here. No pre-order just yet (will keep you posted)
Thanks and take care,
The list of attendees for Bouchercon 2017 is up. (http://bouchercon2017.com/attendees/)
The Schedule is also starting to shape up. I know I’ll be there from Friday PM to Sunday and will keep you posted on developments as soon as I get any.
See you there and take care,
*Picture is from the ABSOLUTELY perfect example of Montreal Franglais : Balconville by David Fennario.
I love writing slang. I love writing Frenglish too. I loved Gabino Iglesias’s Zero Saints because it mixed English and Spanish flawlessly.
These transitions in language come naturally to me. As someone who was raised in a city where you can easily switch between two or three languages at any moment in any discussion. Montreal has it’s own slang, it’s own language. We grew up part Québécois, part Canadian, watched American television and mixed everything and anything from Spanish, to Creole to Greek and more recently, Arabic in the daily language of things. The specific language here is known as “Joual”, and “Frenglish” or “Franglais” which are slightly different interpretations of a similar thing and used frequently.
Writing Slang is a very “oral” issue. You have to get that feel for the moments where people switch “naturally” between one language or another. I noticed similar patterns between Iglesias’ work and my own which lead me to believe there might be similarities in the pacing and tempo.
Writing slang is also very hard and it comes with a problem: You want to have that “legitimate” local flavour but you might not want to alienate every reader out there. There are two ways you can go about his :
1 – write the entire story in slang and make it a “local” piece of literary work that people might be interested in IF they are interested in that local culture.
2- Integrate enough of it to get that “reality” in the story while allowing the reader to stay in the story.
The bottom line is that it has to ring true. I’ve decided to include some Joual in every or my works. It becomes a hard balancing act that I’d like to think I’ve managed to pull off over the years.
Below is a deli scene from my upcoming novel : “Down With the Underdogs.”
I find delis, in Montreal at least, is the absolute best place to ring true to both Frenglish and the working class, so if you’re looking to write slang, this could be an example for you.
Excerpt from the upcoming novel Down With the Underdogs.
“Good! That’s good for you. What can I get for the boss then,”
“Two hot-dogs, mayo, and a coke.”
“Alright,” Vincent said. He turned to some kid over at the counter. He was busy on his cellphone. “Hey. Michael. Two steamé avec mayo.”
“Add a fry to that.”
“Avec une fritte!” he added. The kid wasn’t moving. Vincent sighed. I laughed.
“Coming up,” the kid said in English with a thick Quebecois accent but only after finishing his text.
Vincent looked to us. “Eh! I’m gonna have to get rid of that kid.”
“Doesn’t work much?”
“He’s got a girl on his mind that one, I tell you,” he said as he ran a towel over his counter.
“Don’t we all?”
“I mean. I’m no brain surgeon. But he’s not going to school, he’s not really working. I got him here part time and as far as I know he’s got nothing else going.” He nodded his head. “C’est ben’ triste quand tu y’ penses.” He added in French. “I don’t know. Maybe I don’t know anything, but he’s not looking to learn the job, you know? This is a subtle business.”
“A diner is subtle business?” Phil asked.
“Of course it is? Are you kidding me?”
The waitress came around, “Vince’,” she said, “deux poutines ‘pis une rondelle su’a’ trois.”
Vincent shouted the order in Frenglish to his cook and leaned back on his counter. “It’s like in the morning, he makes the eggs and half the damn egg is sticking there, burnt to the plate. Une croute ça d’épaisse, osti. And I tell him, ‘Jesus Christ that’s my profit you’re burning over there.’ And I’m not even talking about the time we’ll waste cleaning this mess up. Ciboire! Où l’autre jour,” he sighed. “I mean we get some of those fruit flies in the garbage back there, ‘tsé! Ta-bernak! Some mess that was. So I go out and they sell me this powder to put in the bottom of the bags and this kid he sees the powder and he doesn’t ask about it and the bag’s empty and he just changes it. No wonder I’m losing my shirt over this place.”
We all thought is was funny. We all smiled and had a good time. The guy was probably just as broke has he was saying he was. There’s no way there was any real money in food services. But it was the way he turned all of it into a grandiose story of life and death.
I liked it. I liked it a lot.
“He doesn’t get it,” Vincent continued. “Y’ comprends pas,” he repeated in French. “You got to count everything. Every bag, every egg, every bun, everything, Ostie! Otherwise you’re eating your profit, ‘tsé.” The deli’s phone rang. Vicent picked it up and shouted “yeah?” He paused for a second and then started speaking Greek. He looked back at us and switched to French and English gain, “Heille ça s’en viens là, guys! Alright? Deux minutes, OK?” before going right back to shouting in Greek on the phone.
There was no other way to say it: I fucking loved this city.
My “Down With the Underdogs” tribute to the mystery scene
To the former punks
And factory workers
Border crossing saviors
To the inner-city players,
Of both style and substance
Silent geeks, the crazy kind
And other Fuck the World
Types or people,
My kind of people,
Down with the underdogs.
And now some context to this post:
I’m in the editing of my next novel, Down With the Underdogs, with no date in sight, but I am starting to think about things like tributes and photos and covers and working on expanding my network…that kind of shit.
Some version of this thing will go in as tribute in the book.
As for networking, I decided to go to any artistic or literary event I could find these past few weeks.
Tonight, I went to a mile-end poetry reading. And I’m a kid from the East, so you know I don’t fit in no fucking mile-end poetry reading. I also happen to be a poet who doesn’t really like poetry, or as Bukowski would say, “it’s all so boring! Where’s the guts?”
I mean, Cat Kidd was as impressive as I expected her to be, but the rest of it, I could’ve lived without. I mean, they can do whatever they want and who gives a fuck, it’s all good and well and everything, but it did make me realize just how much I could appreciate the mystery scene I landed in a few months ago.
Some of you I’ve met in real life, others I’ve only met online, but there is this unique meeting point of so many representatives of the working class in the people I’ve met. The bottom half of society is well represented with you and I wanted to say it, I guess.