Excerpt From “Montreal – A Novel”

Hey! After weeks of holidays crap and terrible writing, I felt like posting something that was actually good for a change. Started editing “Montreal” again. Here’s a short chapter about the impulse of art.

Chapter 14

 

It was in the way the veins diverged at the wrist and converged back at the thumb. There were small details like that that didn’t matter to the rest of the world but often became the absolute centre of attention for Eli. He looked at the black ink of his tattoos, not the colours, just the blacks, the outlines, the shading, the way it faded at certain places and didn’t at others. How the sun had faded the forearms over time and he still had 50 years to live.

He was just sitting on his mattress, the playlist was on and it was hip hop and electronic, instrumentals, doom…noise. New day, same shit: perfect music to create to.

He had been staring at things for almost an hour now, waiting for the inspiration to hit. Sometimes it took him that long to bubble out of his life. He listened to the words of great artist, prophets really, witnesses to human emotions after all. And he was trying to find that moment when creating almost because spiritual, or even beyond spiritual.

It was a bit much to say a street artist could be a witness to human existence, but wasn’t that the truth as well? He kept wondering, pondering, but most of all, he sat and he stared.

He looked at the tiny scars on his hands, the scratches of the past from handling to much of everyone else’g garbage and the flakes of paint he couldn’t get from underneath his nails anymore. He tried to catch the pulses under his skin. He looked for body hairs that were out of place or try to catch that tiny, barely noticeable twitch in his pinky.

Then he looked at the wall for inconsistencies in the paint job and the texture, looking for something that shouldn’t be there and even the cleanest of jobs will always have that one flaw that granted him hope for the universe.

It had yet to skin into his heart, the fact that he could actually make it as an artist. He knew it to be true, sure. He was aware of the rationale behind the thought process that lead the the recognition of the necessity of art and enjoyed it when his own brain entered these strings of words that sounded like everything an anything all at once. The mind could easily play with those and it allowed him to skid away from the common truth if he ever needed to, but the heart had to get on board now. He knew the technique, the function and the art and the aesthetics but the heart was always hesitant to fully embrace things.

His rational side made the cost-benefit calculations years earlier: he was fucked and broke anyways so why not go all in? It was always easier if he could thread a line that allowed him to bail on his true emotions.

His heart was scared no matter how he looked at it. It was so fucking weird to him how he had this inner fire, this insane self-confidence about what he was doing but had yet to dare to cash in and take in a bit of emotional pain on the way there.

So far it had all been external. He looked at society and spit back what he was seeing the best way he was seeing it. Bashing society was easy. It was necessary, but it was easy. His own skin wasn’t on the line. It was the same with art as it had been with women. What the fuck did you do when it was time to get serious?

He felt it just under there somewhere inside his chest. He was going to pry this shit open, dig into the the wounds and see if his own guts were worthy of attention for once.

He smiled at himself and almost moved. Almost! There was a song playing that was from Sage Francis’ Human the Death Dance. Going back to Rehab.

Eli sank himself back in the mattress, put the song on repeat. He allowed the melodic line to build up and take over his mind and the words flowed freely in a way only a masterful MC like Francis could ever manage. Eli must’ve listened to the whole song three or four times on a loop.

Soon, he was ready for his body and his mind to accept everything.  He had found it. He had found that singular instant in every artist’s life when they stared into nothing, absolutely nothing, and found a way into equanimity.

“Overstanding,” he had read once, “a specific form of understanding of the emotional knowledge of the universe connected to a rationale best represented in the art form known as Hip-Hop.”

He had just found Overstanding and finally allowed himself up from his mattress.

It came down to this in the end. His truth of the moment was the truth of someone else at any given time in the past. It will be the truth of dozens more at any given time in the future and that made art valid because truth was only a moment in time.

And he was ready to speak that way to the world now.

He tore open three canvases and he was going to paint something he knew was downright cheezy but he had to do it. He had three characters in his mind now and he had to commit them to canvas. That was just the way it was. He popped open cans and sharpies, opened his window for the fumes to get out and the cold air sifted in but he liked how it snapped his senses into focus. He put on his mask and started to paint.

The past. The present. The future.

It was simple enough, basic plot but complex emotions: the nameless girl from Braking it Down was going to go on the first canvas. She was cute but nothing fancy. He did his best to give her that hopeful drive around the eyes but there wasn’t much more going on there and maybe they were just from different worlds and that’s what he tried to capture her.

Then there was Alex in a short skirt with that Blue Jays jersey on in winter. Her natural kindness still unaffected by all the nihilists of the world and her natural curves that should make the envy of the entire world.

Then there was Mari.

Marianna who was perfect. Perfectly flawed, perfectly rich yet perfectly poor and perfectly torn between French and English and a place up the hill but also with both shoes down in the gutter and didn’t she feel exactly like Montreal in a way?

It was that uncommon vibe of hers that said, “fuck you I don’t need your approval” that was really so very rare in reality and he liked that.

He liked that a lot.

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Book Announcement and Cover Reveal – Down with the Underdogs (Down and Out Books)

Fall is a busy literary season so I want to get the news out ahead of the few events I’ll be attending in the coming weeks because I expect to be swamped with work,

I am really happy to present to the world the cover for Down with the Underdogs, a D’Arcy Kennedy mystery.

Ian Truman - Down with the Underdogs web

The follow-up to 2016’s Grand Trunk and Shearer is set to be released Mid 2018 (for now) on indie powerhouse Down and Out books. The novel is currently at the editing stage in the insanely capable hands of underground legends John McFetridge and Peter Rozovsky.

I would like to take a moment to thank Eric Campbell for believing in my work enough to support the expansion of the D’Arcy Kennedy world into an ongoing series I can be proud to write. Thank you.

Until then, you can always get Grand Trunk and Shearer HERE or meet me at the Brooklyn Book Festival, table 301 on Sept 17.

Thanks and take care.

Ian Truman.

 

Cover design : Collective Narcolepsy

Cover photo : shutterstock_133007795 – Marc Bruxelle

Texture : iStock-607616372 – natthanim

Standard licenses acquired.

 

Dancing with a Switchblade: Selected Poems – Is Now Available on Kindle Only.

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.

Side Project Cover Reveal – Dancing with a Switchblade

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,

Ian.

Dancing with a Switchblade cover (2017)

Montreal Noir – Akashic Books – Gets a Release date. (11/7/17)

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)

http://www.akashicbooks.com/catalog/montreal-noir-canada/

Thanks and take care,

 

Ian

On Writing Slang – A Short Lesson on Writing Montreal Franglais.

*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.

Take care,

Ian.

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

My “Down With the Underdogs” tribute to the mystery scene

 

To the former punks

And factory workers

Border crossing saviors

Shitty lawyers

Tattoo artists

barmaids

Cops

and

Ex-cops

or ex-cons

and ex-military.

 

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,

Always.

 

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.

So there,

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.

Take care,

 

Ian