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Challenges Blog
August 2011- Archives

Canadian Identity Crisis By Sylvia Olson

Sylvia was born by the Black Forest in Germany where she was raised on Grimm Fairy Tales. She moved from the country of uniformity to the land of diversity. Now she lives in the forests of BC, reads Ondaatje, drinks Frappuccinos and does her ATM banking in English and Chinese!Sylvia...

Suspension With Pay By Leo McKay

A birth forty years early for reality TV.  Talents too meagre for conventional achievement.  Leo McKay reached middle age and began to re-evaluate everything, including career goals.  Unwilling to coast mindlessly forward, unable to retire early, McKay set his sights on something new, his only real option: Suspension With Pay.Leo...

Lust, Lies, and Lobbying By Geoff Stewart

Geoff Stewart is a young man chasing a feeling. Serial-dater turned womanizer, rambling grad student turned mercenary lobbyist - see how he finds his edge and the path of turmoil that ensues. Geoff Stewart, Toronto ON«Take the Canada Writes Autobiography Challenge!...

A Series Of Awkward Goodbyes By Adrian Budhram

Whether a sweaty handshake or a clumsy embrace, preparing for an awkward goodbye is daunting. Adrian Budhram lives in that moment of trepidation; from kindergarten expulsion triggered by macaroni art fraud, to extradition from England prompted by ferry-plundering along the River Thames, his life is a series of awkward goodbyes....

Interview With A Shallow Puddle By Susan Krupp

Somewhere between here and there I made up my mind to sit tight and abstain from drinking vodka in my coffee. Time sober was profoundly succinct. With hesitation I understood why folks drank in the first place. Our vanity is gigantic. I'm leaping over obstacles now, tripping purposely for fun....

"Phil and the Phoenix" By Gordon Lambie

In the midst of tensions brought on by divorce, displacement, and unrequited love, fourteen year-old Gordon reinvents himself online in the form of Phil, the Burning Guy. Phil, perpetually aflame, becomes Gordon's intermediary to the outside world, trying to help him rise again from the smouldering ashes of lost childhood....

The Extraordinary Ordinary Love Story By Nicole Korstanje

As a child she spent her days envisioning her future self. The image always the same. She would be married to a rich business man, living in a penthouse and a successful business woman. At thirty she finds herself alone, living with her mother and considering the nunnery.Nicole Korstanje, Beamsville...

True Story by Fiction Writer By Lee Kvern

Writer drops English 30 in High School. "Excessive novel reading, too much Shakespeare," says Lee Kvern. Does four years Remedial English in college. "She writes a helluva cover letter," quips former professor. Later pens short story, which wins 2007 CBC Award. Headline in local newspaper: Writer Wins National Literacy Award.Lee...

"You Ate WHAT?!" By Donald B. Campbell

Traumatized by his childhood of mashed potatoes and oatmeal porridge, a young man sets off for some gutsy gastronomic globetrotting.  Turtle soup.  Snake soup.  Dog soup.  Anything but ****bell's soup.  He samples fish eyes and roasted larvae.  Even gooey fermented squid innards.  "And that's NOT a good thing." - Martha...

Autobiography Challenge : Your submissions

A round-up of all the submissions we received last week for our Autobiography Challenge.«Take the Canada Writes Autobiography Challenge!...

'I Probably Don't Like You' by Stewart Reynolds

Raised by Scottish parents, Stewart Reynolds fought ridicule and battled to overcome the language barrier to become the delightfully uncelebrated artist he is today. Read this heartwarming and open autobiography and let Stewart tell you in his own words that he probably wouldn't like you.Stewart Reynolds, Stratford, ON...

"If I Had a Clawhammer" by Christine Lovelace

At the age of 40, when things started to sag and indigestion was a daily trial, Christine Lovelace decided that learning to play banjo would finally make her the hip kid she'd always wanted to be. Follow her on a topsy-turvy ride through the world of bum-ditty.Christine Lovelace, Ottawa ON«Take...

"Self-Constrained Underwhelming Breeder Acrobatics" by Eric Rumble

People who can make babies do not necessarily know how. Drawing on years of lame courtship and futile attraction, Rumble explores the grey side of dating, revealing how to sidestep that special someone. Sometimes he tries too hard. Sometimes he tries foolishly. Sometimes he gets duped. Always he tries again.Eric...

I: A Novel by Paul Marlowe

In any reasonable country, Paul Marlowe would be declared a national treasure. Not, perhaps, along the lines of the crown jewels, of course. More the sort of treasure that grandmother appreciated: something nicely sparkly, but considered in rather bad taste now. Definitely something that should be locked up securely, though.Paul...

"They All Fall Down" by Mary E. McIntyre

In a freak storm, a centuries-old elm smashes her grandmother's cottage on Lake Scugog, killing a child. The fallout as told by ten-year old McIntyre relives the tragedy of 1957, and chronicles the stoicism of an extended British immigrant family. On Washburn Island, unfamiliar grief replaces child-like innocence.Mary E. McIntyre,...

"The Dyslexic Cartographer" by Joseph Sexsmith

Glen Sexsmith had the unfortunate occupation as a cartographer. Unfortunate, because of his dyslexia. He became known as The Dyslexic Cartographer. A world traveller, continually, frustratingly, going the wrong direction. He'd crafted beautiful, artistic yet meaningless, pieces of misdirection. Always somewhere but never at the intended place.Joseph Sexsmith, Lakefield ON«Take...

"To Scale a Rocky Chore" by Barbara Baker

Her short stories offer hot flash heat, the intrusiveness of pelvic exams, or the nonsensicality of new-age vacuum cleaners. Barbara Baker conjures up domestic chronicles as she scrambles peaks of her beloved Rockies, camera bag thumping off her hip, stubby pencil and notepad in her bag. Guess what? She's back.Barbara...

"Twenty-Five to Life" by Hollis Sinker

In the throes of a quarter-life crisis, and turning more into her mother each day, Hollis Sinker seeks solace in hindsight's lessons and boxed wine. Take heed and read; you just might learn why the answer to, "wanna see something neat?" should always be "no." And that's only the introduction!Hollis...

"Pit Mair In." By Stuart Mark

Stuart Mark dwelled on a diet of deep-fried intention and ketchup, until he was driven out of Scotland for hating football and using passive verbs. Head down into the Chinook wind, Stuart collided with the Rockies and woke as a Canadian, but he is still arrogantly garbled by his homeland.Stuart...

"Where's the @#$% honey?" by Kyla Hanington

Clawing her way up the landslide of life, Kyla Hanington takes us on the humorous journey of raising two children - and herself - while having the attention span of a bee on crack. Kyla crashes from one adventure to another with an overabundance of both enthusiasm and swearing.Kyla Hanington,...

"Anne ain't here" by Lisa Bulman Taylor

On an Island nostalgic for Green Gables, Lisa grew up wondering why life was not idyllic. Anne never tackled struggles of abuse, addiction and mental illness on her island. Digging through the dirt of a thousand silences, this author finds her way out of the past and into her own.Lisa...

"Not Older, Different" by Michael Hall

Time; It's difficult, when you don't believe something, to express yourself in terms of it.  I can see things change, but I am not things.  Although I am a collection of things, is imagination? The mind is limitless, time is a distraction; is this what it's like to live forever?...

"The Househusband" by Tom Bauer

He was a lousy husband, but he did good staying home with the kids. Was he thinking about gender reparation? Maybe penance. Then he opens a Montessori daycare. What was that about? Money? Freedom? Love? One man, a parade of women, and all he's getting is more dirty diapers. Tom...

"Tea and Scrabble Anyone?" by Iris Nixon

She appreciates a formidable game of Scrabble.  The mother of three lovely daughters she is proficient in Fairy tales and pony tails. A partially completed New York Times crossword lingers her pocket.  To her, happiness is a piping hot cup of tea and a freshly baked gingersnap cookie.Iris Nixon, Nanaimo...

Autobiography Challenge: Sean Cullen, Shakespeare, jellyfish and more

We asked Ian Ferguson, Trevor Cole, Katie Malloch and Sean Cullen to try their hands at the Canada Writes Autobiography Challenge. It warms our cockles to see that the old adage still holds true - Canadians truly do not take themselves too seriously. (Oh, and don't worry - they're not eligible...

Northern Irregular by Lev Bratishenko

Pressganged into the Soviet National Hockey team at age 6, Lev Bratishenko defected to Canada at the first opportunity and wired his parents enough money to join him. So begins a tale of international weirdness and scandal that the Pope called "Unspeakable! I'll burn it as soon as I'm done."Lev...

Banned from the Brownies By Evelyn White

In this side-splitting autobiography Salt Spring writer Evelyn C. White details her expulsion from the Brownies on the first day the troop met. The event triggers a revenge plot in which the author, then age 7, devises a plan to commit the perfect murder. Tupperware is involved. Evelyn White, Salt...

Hips, Whips, and Battleships By Danielle McTaggart

Soon after my husband's enlistment I knew that tending home fires wouldn't be enough. My search for definition beyond "dependent" would bring me to the fringes of society's tapestry. But can Lusty B. Fearsome the belly-dancing roller derby diva still find acceptance in the conservative world of officer's wives? Danielle...

Canada Writes Editor, Jennifer Warren, takes the challenge!

Plain Old Blue Raincoat By Jennifer Warren To the old man across the street, she's an infuriatingly bad weeder. To gazpacho, her queasiness is a tad histrionic. Her texting-enabled cellphone wishes she didn't have such huge - as in sideshow-freak huge - thumb pads. But who harbours the deepest disappointment...