As a child I couldn’t trust the adults entrusted to guide me

An AV version of the essay I wrote for the Star about the child sexual abuse I suffered as a boy.

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Fine old images of Abu Dhabi

The time, like fine desert sand, just slips away. But the images don’t. They stay with you forever. Even these old ones. The National newspaper that I worked for has done a wonderful job collating photographs from the U.A.E. going back a good 50 to 60 years. Check these out.…

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The Emptiest Quarter

The unseasonably, beautiful weather we’ve had last month (and even so far into October) has got me thinking of Septembers in Abu Dhabi, where I lived for almost four years.

The perception is that the sun beats without interruption and without relief over the Emirati desert year-round. The record-breaking temperatures in the Gulf these past two summers certainly buttressed that perception.

That certainly was the case through the summer months. And it has been like this since the beginning. The Bedouins of old would winter by the gulf waters in the winter, but in the heat of July you’d find them deep in the desert, near the oases that came to be Al Ain and Liwa.

But come September, the daily highs would drop down to the 20s and the humidity, once the sun was no longer around to burn it off, would be bearable. The magical time of the year was, of course, the winter months: cool days in the high-teens and low 20s, brisk nights, no humidity, a spot of rain, the sound of the call to prayer crisp and clear, unmuddied by close weather and heavy air. If only it were like that year-round!

Abu Dhabi’s also been on my mind because of the work I’ve been doing for the past year and a bit: writing a collection of four novellas, The Emptiest Quarter, which will come out in 2018 from Eyewear Publishing in the U.K.

Stay tuned for more details about launch dates, readings, etc., and maybe even more about what you’ll find inside.

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These Days Are Nights is now available

In 2002, a violent student protest at Concordia University in Montreal prevented Benjamin Netanyahu – בנימין נתניהו, now the prime minister of Israel, from delivering a speech. The events of that day inspired this novel, These Days Are Nights, which is available, free of charge, today through Sunday Nov.16, on Amazon Kindle only.

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History …

Long ago Denise and I ran a reading series in Montreal that sought to bring together friends in the literary communities of the city, English, French, and allophone. It seems, this weekend, heading into yet another provincial election that hinges on linguistic issues, natural to link to this piece by Carolyn Souaid, our dear friend and one of the faithful Urban Wanderers, written last spring for her website Poetry Quebec. The series, which ran from 1993 to 1995 and predated the Blue Metropolis literary festival, raised funds for ReClaim, the adult literacy program, and produced one anthology, The Urban Wanderers Reader. There might be a few out there still…

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Audio from Blue Metropolis

Here’s a link to the audio of the CBC-sponsored panel called “Montreal’s X Factor” in which I participated, pimping Everything I Own at the Blue Metropolis literary festival in April.

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MLA conference

Have been invited to present at the 2013 AGM of the Modern Languages Association, to be held in Boston, Jan. 3-6. More details to follow, including title of panel and fellow presenters.

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Book signing event

I’ll be signing copies of Everything I Own on February 12, a Sunday, at Chapters Pointe-Claire, from 1 to 3 p.m. Call ahead to reserve a copy: (514) 428-5500.

This is in addition to a previously announced reading and signing at Paragraphe Bookstore, 2220 McGill College Ave. in Montreal, Saturday, Feb. 11, from 2 to 4 p.m. Phone number: (514) 845 5811.

See you in Montreal!

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Authors Aloud

Trevor Cole, a Hamilton novelist whose most recent work of fiction, Practical Jean, got a great review in the New York Times in November, runs a website called Authors Aloud. It’s dedicated to an understanding of the oral nature of a writer’s work: the sound of sentences, the rhythm and beat of lines, the staying nature of images. He has interviewed hundreds of authors and posted audio of them reading short passages of their work and insights into the writing process.

You can find his most recent posting — moi — at In it, I read a passage from the middle of the first chapter, Verse: Beaupré, in which the protagonist, Michel, 14 at the time, attends the 1976 national day concert on Mont-Royal, then deals with the consequences of staying out late when he returns home. The “insight” is me talking about the autobiographical elements of the novel for about a minute.


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Franco-American pantheon :-)

Today, following the publication of Everything I Own, I joined a rather exclusive (because the numbers are so few!) club of Franco-American writers. Not that I would ever consider myself on par with Clark Blaise or David Plante or Robert Cormier, but it is neat to be in their company on the Franco-American Connection website run by Jacques L’Heureux in St. Louis, Missouri.

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