Tuesday, February 26, 2013

NEW WEBSITE

THIS BLOG IS SEMI-RETIRED. I WILL UPDATE IT NOW AND THEN, BUT GO TO MY NEW WEBSITE TO BE REALLY UPPETH TO DATETH (NEW UPDATES TO WEBSITE IMMINENT).

www.spencer-gordon.com

Saturday, January 19, 2013

I Am Reading Whether You Like It or Not

The fresh-faced, Montreal-based reading series, THIS IS HAPPENING WHETHER YOU LIKE IT OR NOT will do the unthinkable and feature me as a reader this Friday, January 25 for their fourth instalment.

I will be reading something from Cosmo (or maybe some poemies) and yep, Cosmo will be for $ALE!

I'm sharing the stage/floor with writers/readers/performers Drew Nelles, Zoe Sharpe, Ben Stephenson, Olivia Wood, and Matthew Duffy. There'll be live music from two secret bands and Mathematique. There'll be video projections by Erik Zuuring. There'll be two hosts: Guillaume Morissette and Ashley Oppenheim.

Details: 

Where: The Dove (address forthcoming), Montreal, QC
When: 9 p.m. to 2 a.m.
PWYC/$5 suggested.

CHECK THIS SHART OUT ON FAECESBOK


Wednesday, January 9, 2013

THIS Magazine Reviews Cosmo!

THIS Magazine's Caitlynn Cummings has reviewed Cosmo for the new January/February 2013 issue.

It's a short but sweet review. Here's what she had to say:

In his first collection of fiction, Cosmo, Spencer Gordon shows us his Mariah Carey-esque range. With expert wordsmithery, Gordon moves from affecting familial realism to absurd vision quests in celebrity to experimental palate cleansers. The opening lyricism of "Journey to the Centre of Something" and the masterfully controlled, tightly reined prose of "Jobbers" gives way to a 3,000-word sentence and an epic Wiki-ramble-babble called "Frankie+Hilary+Romeo+Abigail+Helen: An Intermission." But with breadth also comes focus: character, cyber culture, stardom. Cosmo's most successful meditations on the latter involve Matthew McConaughey picking up unconscious doppelgangers on a road trip through the desert; Leonard Cohen entering into an ironic endorsement deal with Subway; and Lil' Romeo's biography sitting uncomfortably beside Helen Keller's. Brave, poignant, and hilarious, Cosmo, I can't help but think, must be for Gordon, like McConaughey, "his personal chariot through good times and dangerous places," his "key to adventure, immaturity, [and] boyish exploration."

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Great Revew of Cosmo in Winnipeg Free Press

Victor Enns, poet and journalist, has reviewed Cosmo for the Winnipeg Free Press, and he's got a lot of great things to say!

Read the whole review here!


Enns calls Cosmo a "disarming, technically accomplished debut short-story collection" that "deserves a wide readership" for being "as good as several of the best literary collections released this past fall ... [and for finding] what matters in [this] exploration of one of the widest varieties of psyches you are likely to come across in short fiction."

So ... awesome! (Even though he hates the pink, pink, pink cover, but you know what they say--haters gon' hate ... ).

Thursday, December 27, 2012

8-Ball Interview

Writer Jonathan Ball sent me some questions from his 8-Ball Interview Series. I mashed some keys and sent him some responses. Read the entire thing on Jonathan's website, but for now, a taste:

What do you want to talk about—which question do you wish interviewers would ask, and what is your answer? 
 
I’m usually asked about my influences (regarding Cosmo), and it’s kind of boring and embarrassing to just rattle off some names. I’d like an interviewer to be more specific—to isolate a particular story or section, a particular passage, and ask about what (or who) motivated its construction. To show that an interviewer has not only read my book, but done some research before firing me some generic questions. I was really knocked out by Rob Benvie’s discussion of David Foster Wallace’s essay “E Unibus Pluram: Television and US Fiction” (1993) in his review of Cosmo for HTMLGIANT, not only because it [the essay] was an incredibly important piece of thinking and writing for me, but because the reviewer was perceptive and well-read enough to identify it. I would love an interviewer to bring up specific names and/or literary works—especially my American influences, since they’re more numerous and more significant for the creation of Cosmo than their Canadian counterparts—and ask me how these went into the formation of the book (as all books are influenced by a multitude of sources, literary and otherwise). I’d be excited by questions about theory, too: not the general, “what theories influence you?” kind of question, but (again) the type that narrow the field. Cosmo benefitted from a study of a whole whack of thinkers—Allan Bloom, Christopher Lasch, Charles Taylor, Pierre Bourdieau, and dozens more—and it would be excellent and exciting to have an interview wander and expand from the source text in creative and surprising ways.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Salty Ink Gets Cosmofied

Chad Pelley of the Salty Ink blog has given Cosmo a small but excellent review, entitled "Spencer Gordon's Electrified Romp through Pop Culture: Cosmo". Read the whole thing here. Below is a taste:

Spencer Gordon’s Cosmo is aptly titled, no matter what synonym of Cosmo comes to mind for you. The fancy vodka-based cocktail? Sure. His stories are fun, intoxicating, and the language is drunk on a high-energy style more lively than a dancefloor. Cosmo as in the cosmos of outer space? Sure: his work is other-worldly, and his imagination rocket-launches CanLit to brave new heights, soaring past the black hole of sameness and familiarity of story that most of CanLit gets sucked into. Cosmo, as in Cosmopolitan, the popular celebrity and style magazine? Absolutely, if not most fittingly. Spencer’s collection pops with pop culture references and is soaked in celebrity culture. In the solid opening story, an anxious Miss America is the main character. In another, you’ll hear a Miley Cyrus fan “defend his passion in a 3,000-word sentence.”

The Salty One has also listed Cosmo as one of his "Dozen Most Dazzling Debuts of 2012." Sweet! Read up about the other books chosen here.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

National Post Gives Cosmo a Rave Review

National Post recently gave Cosmo a stellar review, both online and in the Saturday, December 15, 2012 print edition. Read the entire thing here. In the meantime, check out a sample of what the reviewer, writer Natalie Zina Walschots, had to stay. I'm quite chuffed!

"In weaving fame and popular culture into Cosmo, Spencer Gordon smudges the boundaries between fiction and non-fiction, smearing real-world cultural references and famous figures, from Leonard Cohen to Miley Cyrus, all over the structure of his narratives. The stories engage with the ways in which the characters grapple with their own loneliness, forge and fail relationships, and also define their own relevance to the world, all within a larger cultural context. This makes Cosmo not only a collection of fiction but also a work of cultural criticism. It succeeds not only as a well-wrought and keenly written collection of narratives, but also as a work of analysis. The ways in which Gordon breaks down the barriers between music writing and fiction in particular (such as in the story “Transcript: Appeal Of The Sentence” which takes the form of a single, run-on sentence in which the speaker defends their love of pop star Miley Cyrus) is extremely exciting.

Perhaps the most defining moment is Cosmo comes in the very last story, “Lonely Planet,” wherein an aging porn star dons a dinosaur costume in a desperate bid to remain in the limelight. The story is notable for how well it navigates the fine lines between hilarity and desperation, the ridiculousness of the moment juxtaposed again the terrifying ache of impending irrelevance. Cosmo is a rare book in that it is brave enough to explore the ways in which being loved in private has a very real counterpoint in public, in the form of fame, public identity and cultural cache. In doing so, Gordon dissects the very idea of the authentic in an increasingly public world in which the self is ever more constructed."

Friday, November 30, 2012

Cosmo Receives Starred Review in Quill & Quire

Happy to announce that the December edition of Quill & Quire will feature a starred review of Cosmo. The review is written by none other than Reviews Editor Steven W. Beattie. Here's a taste below. Read the entire thing HERE.

"Thematically, Gordon tips his hand with the collection's opening words: 'This is authentic.' The 10 stories in Cosmo are an investigation into the nature of authenticity in an age that seems ever more mediated and synthetic. How is it possible to live a meaningful life in the world that lionizes surfaces and shallowness? Gordon provides no comfortable, simplistic answers, but his approach to asking the questions is startling and invigorating."

Friday, November 16, 2012

12 or 20 questions with Spencer Gordon

rob "dr. blog" mclennan interviewed me for his 12 or 20 questions interview series. Go to the dr. blog deathstar to read the whole grimy ordeal HERE. As usual, here's a sample:

10 - How easy has it been for you to move between genres (poetry to short fiction)? What do you see as the appeal?

Nothing is easy for me, save for (and I’m really stretching it here) bodily functions, boredom, staring at screens, lust, cruelly laughing at my enemies’ misfortunes, and The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. Art offers a million searing coals to traverse (to ordeal, literally). The appeal, if one can call it that, of moving between fiction and poetry, is in relishing what the opposite genre lacks. It’s like having two lovers—one weird and gelatinous, the other rigid and spine-like—to hop between; you always want what you don’t have. But who said there were two distinct genres, anyway?

For fiction, I put on my very serious brain and think extremely hard. I want to touch on big and vital issues and coax emotion from my characters. I am a sincere, honest-to-Glen realist. For poetry, I let myself dissolve back down into the muck of my buried worm-brain and retrieve the various albino nodes of my headspace, letting them burst, wetly, in the mauve sunlight. I also like to play and be flippant. I do not want to wear plate mail in this country. I want to run free and be happy. I am imagining the Conservative Majority and the grumpiest dudes in the universe. We have our power structures, and if we criticize them, we face erasure. So my poetry is doomed.

11 - What kind of writing routine do you tend to keep, or do you even have one? How does a typical day (for you) begin?

In fear and trembling; a sense that the world was put there, so to speak; a vague and general sense of horror at patterns, associations, immutable laws. Why is there something and not nothing? Once these feelings dissipate—faintly—I get on with the business of my day. This ‘business’ means playing catch up with correspondence and prepping for my classes (I ‘teach’ [read: gesticulate, prance] at OCAD University and Humber College). I could spend all day marking and lecturing, preparing notes and slinging student emails. But I carve out wedges of time to attend to other matters, like picking at myself and editing other people’s work and sometimes sighing, in huge and heaving and melancholy interpretations of my ennui. Then it’s back to YouTube and watching my email inbox fill up with condolences. Occasionally, my partner Stephanie gives me a withering look of contempt.

Then, rob, I sometimes write. I do not have a writing routine. I abhor routine, as my life is already filled with mechanical routines. Writing releases me, provides a blank and glorious rift in schedule and shame. If I scheduled writing and stuck to some demanding ledger, it would feel like forced, dry, and unwanted intercourse, and I already receive enough of that.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

HTML GIANT Reviews Cosmo

Rob Benvie has written an excellent review of Cosmo for the website HTMLGIANT. Read the entire thing HERE. For now, here's a taste:

"Gordon writes stories, not pitches, with characters, and plots, and often conclusions. Names aren’t dropped simply to take digs at current strains of the contemporary miasma, or, at least, not just to do that. The deployment of such references—the emptiness of an Osmonds-hosted Miss USA competition, the disheartening ridiculousness of pro wrestling, porn, angsty LiveJournals, the career twists of Hillary Duff and Lil Romeo—is drenched in melancholy, regret and, most often, failure.

What also saves Cosmo from the “irreverent brashness” of Wallace’s loathing is the care and craft of these stories, both in their form and in prose that is playfully enthusiastic and digressive, yet rarely overstuffed, burrowing into the knottiness of humanity while avoiding the hazards of total schmaltz."

Very happy to be read in this light. Many thanks to Rob Benvie for the piece.