Friday, January 31, 2014

CBC BOOKIE AWARDS

Hello All,

Let me tell you a story. This is a very personal story to me, so I hope you'll bend an ear.

On his deathbed, my great-great-uncle Cotton Horace Davidson pulled me close. He was a sugar miner, you see. He worked in the sugar mines of northern Ontario, harvesting sweet sweet nuggets of sugar from the unforgiving ore. He and his fellow sugar-miners were a tough lot. Burly, unshaven, smelling faintly of Pixie Stiks. When he came home from the sugar mines all the neighborhood children would dance and sing, because they knew that my great-great-uncle would toss his overalls to the child who danced best—and his overalls, of course, were crusted with sweet sweet sugar, and the winning child would get to dash off into the brambles and suck on the seat of those overalls (now you may find the notion of a grown man tossing his overalls to a group of dancing children strange, insofar as that would leave said man practically naked; you may also find the image of a child sucking on the tattered seat of some overalls in the brambles rather unsettling as well, but I must remind you that this was a different day and age, my friend!)

Anyhoo and alas, poor Cotton came down with a bad case of the sugar-lung. It happened to a lot of sugar miners back then. It was one of the dangers of such sweet work. On his death bed he pulled me close and hacked up a puff of fine powdered sugar from the pit of his lungs; it sparkled in the air above his bed like diamond dust, I tell you! And though I was crying, for I loved old Cotton so, I was happy also because he was rich, like all miners, and I stood to clear a few bucks when he kicked the bucket.

With his dying breath dear sweet Cotton pulled me close and whispered:

"Boy, if you do one thing in this life for me, make it that you win CBC's Bookie competition."

I never did forget those words—and now, miraculously, that chance is at hand!

So go forth, for Cotton's sake if not my own, and vote. Damn you, VOTE!

BOOKIES

And I mean, listen, look at those other titles.

The Luminaries? Don't make me laugh! What's it ever won?

Caught? Can I just be honest and say that Newfoundlanders and their whole lah-dee-dah "have" province already "have" enough? They have the sea, the cod, the frolicking lobsters, the invigorating salt air! What, do they need that their authors win everything too? They have enough, I say! Let us hardscrabble Torontonians win something for once, why not?

The Orenda? Who has even heard of that book? Certainly not the entire Canadian reading public, I should think!

Clearly, the choice in clear. Do it for Cotton. Do it for the hardworking sugar miners. Do it for you.

All best,
Craig.

UPDATE: Well, I didn't win. In fact, I finished dead stinkin' last. Great! Just GREAT! Now, as per our infernal agreement, my great-great uncle Cotton will haunt me and my family as a ghoulish undead revenant for the rest of my days, spreading disharmony and angst amongst those I love and treasure most in this world! Plus, he gets to eat my face! Just perfect! Why oh why did I make that deathbed deal?

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

They Sent Me That Cutter Guy's Book, For Some Ungodly Reason

Hello All,

Well, these showed up in the mail today, addressed to me. Probably as a token of appreciation for me pumping this guy's tires a little. I appreciate the gesture, though I won't be reading it. US and UK editions, side by side. US version is a little redder than I'd thought it would be, which is a good choice considering the subject matter as I've heard it described.


And now, just as the old gypsy lady in The Simpsons says: "You buy! You buy!" ... if you enjoy reading that sorta thing.

CANADIAN PAPERBACK
US HARDCOVER
UK PAPERBACK

All best, Craig.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Come on, Guys!


Hello All,

Well, this post is a little insidery, really maybe only of interest to people who really know me and my odd ways. What you may not know about me is that I've got kind of a peculiar voice. That has bearing on this post. And beyond that, I've kind of got an aw-shucks personality, kinda Opie-ish you could even say (if you're of an age to understand that reference). So as a result, friends of mine have enjoyed immitating me, my voice and mannerisms, for years. Of course, not ME-me, not in the sense of it being a perfect impersonation—more in the way a boardwalk caricature artist captures a subject. So, like, totally overblown. Which I find hilarious and others do as well.

The funny thing is that this impression has been adopted by different sets of friends over time—the exact same impression, almost to a tee—and those people have no knowledge of each other. It's not like one group started it, someone in the other group heard it, and it sort of spread virally from one group to the other. My high school friends don't really know my university friends, who don't know the group that I hang out with now and who've adopted it the impersonation now ... I must just be one of those people who make for a funny and pretty easy impression.

The impression portrays me as a gormless, funloving kind of rube whose hayseed mannerisms and old-timey sayings give great delight to all and sundry. It's as if I'm possessed by the spirit of Gomer Pyle, maybe, but with an even more antiquated vocabulary. And when I get riled, it's in the most ineffective and pathetic of ways. So the impression often involves sayings such as:

"Well golly gosh gee-whiz guys, you've got me all aflutter!"

OR:

"Do me a solid and buzz the heck off!"

OR: 

"Oooooh, you guys got me so dang mad I'm hopping like a bug in a pan!"

OR:

"Your monkeyshines make me feel about as low as a rattlesnake's belly in a wagon-wheel rut, guys!"

... but the classic line, the showstopper, is the simplest and shortest one. It's just:

"Awwww, come on guys!"

This line is uttered (often by me, impersonating my own impersonation, after I've been taking it in the ribs for awhile) as a sad, drawn-out lamentation. Me, a put-upon everyman, suffering slings and arrows at the hands of my callous pals. It's a sad and pitiable attempt to get them to just lay off, good golly good heck.

Anyway, today I thought I'd see if my son, the esteemable Nicholas Davidson, could do the "Craig Impersonation." He's a sponge right now. Anything his mother or I say, he's liable to parrot back. So we've had to keep our salty language in check lately. Here's his attempt:



Not too shabby.

All best, Craig.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

THAT WEIRD-ASS NICK CUTTER GUY

Hello All,

Well, this Nick Cutter guy (who I don't know, despite what's being written in some venues, and despite a picture of yours truly being appended to book reviews for this other, strange fellow, who I am most assuredly not) popped up on my radar last week. He's done writ a horror book, I hear. It's a wee bit extreme in some sections, by the sounds of it. Yeeee! Not for me. I don't traffic in that kind of material, myself. If that's your deal, hell, fill your boots. Me? I'll have a Coke and a smile, and read a Hardy Boys mystery—not one of the scary ones, either, about a demon motorcycle or something. The mystery of some gold doubloons buried in a cave is about as supernatural as I'll go!

This, I'm told, was the original cover:


Then it underwent a little bit of a facelift and became this:


Now were you to twist my rubber arm and put me on the spot and ask me which one I prefer, I'd tell you frankly—NEITHER! They're both too damn scary! I just about make water in my pants whenever I set my tender eyes on these fearsome hellscapes! Nossir, not for me!

Anyhoo, if'n you wanted to read a few people's opinions on this here book, I'm not gonna stop you. Hell, I might even post a few more of them here from time to time, just to provide a little perspective and give this weird dude (whoever the hell he is) a leg up. Lord knows we could all use that from time to time! But since I'm not this guy, I guess I'll post a pretty wide swath of opinion regarding the book, both good and bad. I mean, if I really was this guy, why would I post the hatchet jobs? Nope, there would be no angle in that. So anyway, scan on down for some links. If I were Nick Cutter, and by gar I ain't, I'd probably want to thank Alex Good and Steven W Beattie for their thoughts, and also thank the fine but faceless folks at PW and Kirkus, and Matt Schirano and Douglas Lord at Library Journal. For all I know this Cutter cat's a total boor and wouldn't offer such niceties, but he ain't me and you can bet your boots on that.


... and how about a link to Steven W. Beattie's review?


... or Kirkus?

KIRKUS REVIEW


Some thrillers produce shivers, others trigger goose bumps; Cutter’s graphic offering will have readers jumping out of their skins.
Scoutmaster Dr. Tim Riggs takes his troop for their annual camping trip to Falstaff Island, an uninhabited area not far from their home on Prince Edward Island. The five 14-year-old boys who comprise Troop 52 are a diverse group: popular school jock, Kent, whose father is the chief of police; best friends Ephraim and Max, one the son of a petty thief who’s serving time in prison and the other the son of the coroner who also serves as the local taxidermist; Shelley, an odd loner with a creepy proclivity for animal torture and touching girls’ hair; and Newton, the overweight nerdy kid who’s the butt of the other boys’ jokes. When a skeletal, voracious, obviously ill man shows up on the island the first night of their trip, Tim’s efforts to assist him unleash a series of events which the author describes in gruesome, deliciously gory detail. Tom Padgett is the subject of a scientific test gone horribly wrong, or so it seems, and soon, the Scouts face a nightmare that worms its way into the group and wreaks every kind of havoc imaginable. With no way to leave the island (the boat Tom arrived on is disabled, and the troop was dropped off by a different boat), the boys fight to survive. Cutter’s narrative of unfolding events on the island is supplemented with well-placed interviews, pages from diaries, and magazine and newspaper articles, which provide answers to the reader in bits and pieces—but perhaps more importantly, it also delivers much-needed respites from the intense narrative as the boys battle for their lives on the island. Cutter (who created this work under a pseudonym) packs a powerful punch by plunging readers into gut-wrenching, explicit imagery that’s not for the faint of heart or the weak of stomach.  
Readers may wish to tackle this heart-pounding novel in highly populated, well-lit areas—snacks optional.
... or Library Journal? (they did two reviews, interestingly. So why not read them both?)

REVIEW #1:
Cutter, Nick. The Troop. Gallery: S. & S. Jan. 2014. 368p. ISBN 9781476717715. $26; ebk. ISBN 9781476717753. F
In this suspenseful biotech thriller by the pseudonymous Cutter (an acclaimed Canadian novelist), a Boy Scout troop goes to Falstaff Island for its annual hiking and camping trip. It’s usually just the boys and their scoutmaster, but this year they are surprised by a hauntingly thin man. He is infected with a highly contagious genetically modified worm that eats people from inside while overwhelming them with hunger. The scoutmaster soon falls victim. When no boat arrives to take the scouts home, it becomes apparent that the island is quarantined, and the five boys must fend for their survival while avoiding infection. Cutter mixes the story of the scouts with glimpses of interviews and articles written after the event. These excerpts inform the reader of the sinister origin of the worm and the circumstances surrounding the quarantine.VERDICT The personal history of each scout plays into how they handle the situation, which makes this a psychological thriller. That being said, it does contain scenes of graphic violence unsuitable for young adult readers. Cutter’s novel imbues readers with the horrifying feelings reminiscent of a zombie novel but successfully delivers a unique alternative that makes for a fun if gruesome horror read.—Matt Schirano, Grand Canyon Univ. Lib., Phoenix

REVIEW #2:
Cutter, Nick. The Troop. Gallery. Feb. 2014. 368p. ISBN 9781476717715. $26. ebk. ISBN9781476717753 FICThis hella creepy book begins on a teeny Canadian island where scoutmaster Tim Riggs and a tight-knit group of 14-year-old scouts are camping. A dude shows up out of the blue —and he’s hungry. “It wasn’t much more than a skeleton lashed by ropes of waterlogged muscle,” observes Riggs, “its flesh falling off its bones in grey, lace-edged rags.” Tim sees Mr. Hungry eat a handful of soil—and it’s not because he’s a geophagist; he’s just freakishly hungry. As Tim, who is also a general practitioner, cuts open the hungry man he releases “[t]hree feet of oily tube” —a massive, vampiric tapeworm. Tim rapidly gets infected and suddenly we’re having an epidemic. Though at times maudlin, especially concerning the boys’ feelings about the pain of adolescence, this is surprisingly well written for a horror novel. There are skies “…salted with remote stars” and a beach that is “a bonelike strip unfurling to the shoreline.” Additionally, Cutter simply nails a lot of things: the interplay between the five-pack of man-cubs, for example, or his description of a kid’s sudden anger which “…rose out of nowhere, this giddy charge zitzing through his bones and electrifying his marrow.” Cutter adds intrigue by zigzagging back and forth in time and place and parceling out the story from a variety of viewpoints. Each character—from patient zero to Scoutmaster Tim—brings a slightly different perspective; fictionalized news reports (grotesque) and clinical lab reports (cold blooded) add to the verisimilitude. VERDICT An eerie/disturbing page-turner perfect for horror fans, reluctant readers, and anyone who liked Lord of the Flies or John Carpenter’s The Thing.
... or Publisher's Weekly? (which is a bit of a slam ... ooh, I'd hate to be this Cutter guy on this one!)
Well, anyway, there you have it. If'n you were wanting to order this book, or find out a little more about it, I guess, were I Cutter, I'd direct you to this website:
Or maybe I'd offer a few places where you could purchase foreign editions, if'n you happened to be from those spots on the globe.
Anyhoo, this is just me doing a public service for some dude I've never met—and to speak frankly, never want to! He sounds like a total lunatic and whackadoodle, writin' this trashola. Me, I'm heading down to the K of C hall to do some woolgathering with Hal, Wink, and Elmer, my buds. I'm steering clear of this Cutter freak and all his freaky freakishness, and (despite everything in this post seeming to suggest otherwise) I advise you do the same!
All best,
Craig the Puritan, aka: Not Nick Cutter.

Monday, January 13, 2014

HAMMETT PRIZE SHORTLIST

Hello All,

Got an email the other day to say Cataract City's been nominated for the Hammett Prize, which is adjudicated by the International Association of Crime Writers. I never really thought of Cataract City as a crime book, but there's certainly a fair bit of crime in the narrative, so I'm very grateful to have been nominated—and as you can see from their history, there's a fairly wide range of books that made the shortlist year to year:

HAMMETT PRIZE PAST WINNERS AND NOMINEES

This years' shortlist is:

Heywood Gould, Green Light for Murder (Tyrus Books)
Richard Lange, Angel Baby: A Novel (Mulholland Books)
Lisa Moore, Caught (Anansi Press)
George P. Pelecanos, The Double (Little, Brown)
Craig Davidson, Cataract City (Doubleday)

... so that's some pretty stiff competition—and hey, there's Lisa Moore! We're sharing a shortlist again. I'm a big fan of Lange and Pelecanos, who's written for The Wire and Treme. Anyway, a very startling nomination (as any nomination would be, for me) but very much appreicated. Winner to be announced on June 5th.

All best, Craig.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Rusty Toque Interview

Hello All,

Please find following an interview I did with the Rusty Toque. Many thanks to the marvellous Madeline Bassnet, a fellow UNB English alum, for asking some great questions.

INTERVIEW

All best, Craig.