writing

Fantastic HWM Review in National Post

High-Water Mark was reviewed by one of Canada's best CanLit critics, Steven W. Beattie, so I'm not only super excited by the review itself, but by the fact that it's a real review; i.e., it's critcal, and, well, smart.

Dixon is uninterested in the kind of lyrical historical romance that was, for some time, the default CanLit setting. Her stories are abrasive and direct, marrying a fierce intelligence with a febrile style that refuses to shy away from profanity or explicit sex. There is a toughness to these stories that testifies to a refreshing honesty, a refusal on Dixon’s part to paper over the more nettlesome aspects of her material, opting rather to face it head-on in all its painful messiness. High-Water Mark is kitchen-sink realism filtered through a storm-tossed East Coast sensibility. And it is chock full of allusiveness and implication.

Read the rest of the review here.

Open Book Ontario: At the Desk

Open Book Ontario asked me to write an At the Desk feature. I chose to write about how the "Murder Room" in the Blue House became my office. You can read about that process, and see a few more photos, here.

Interview with Porcupine's Quill

Porcupine's Quill did a fun interview with me, partially last fall and partially this summer. It's now online! You can read it here.

The No Dory Halifax Book Launch

I'll be launching High-Water Mark in Halifax on October 18.

Two Maritime writers, zero dories.
Thurs., October 18, 5:30 p.m.
The Company House, 2202 Gottigen St., Halifax
(reading with Darryl Whetter)

 

Five Things Literary: Advocate Harbour

Open Book Ontario recently asked me to contribute to their interview series. I really wanted to write Five Things Literary about Advocate Harbour, but the site is Open Book Ontario (i.e., not Nova Scotia), so I’ll be writing about my office and desk, instead. However, little Advocate Harbour has some big literary credentials which I still wanted to share. So here are five seven things literary about Advocate Harbour, Nova Scotia.

Edit: I don't live in Advocate, or the blue house, anymore. 'Tis life. But these facts are still pretty cool and too awesome to delete ;)

1) Advocate Harbour was named by Samuel de Champlain after Marc Lescarbot, Canada's first author (and lawyer) (well, of European descent).

2) Playwright (and actor) Sam Shepard lived out the draft in Advocate in a house called Hilltop Farm (now near Cape Chignecto Park). Rumour has it that Bob Dylan once helicoptered into Advocate for a weekend to hang out with Shepard. Actress Megan Follows (Anne of Green Gables!) now owns the house. She said when she bought it, she found sexy photos of Shepard’s then wife O-Lan Jones.

3) Megan Follows once lived in my house in Advocate. She painted my dining room. She said she spent most of the winter freezing beside the then tiny woodstove with her two very young children. The house is now owned by writer Darryl Whetter. His latest book, Origins, includes poems about Joggins, Nova Scotia, which is 40 minutes from Advocate and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is at Joggins that vertebrates first mated on land.

4) Charles Darwin wrote about Joggins in On the Origin of Species:

In other cases we have the plainest evidence in great fossilised trees, still standing upright as they grew, of many long intervals of time and changes of level during the process of deposition, which would never even have been suspected, had not the trees chanced to have been preserved: thus, Messrs. Lyell and Dawson found carboniferous beds 1400 feet thick in Nova Scotia, with ancient root-bearing strata, one above the other, at no less than sixty-eight different levels. Hence, when the same species occur at the bottom, middle, and top of a formation, the probability is that they have not lived on the same spot during the whole period of deposition, but have disappeared and reappeared, perhaps many times, during the same geological period. So that if such species were to undergo a considerable amount of modification during any one geological period, a section would not probably include all the fine intermediate gradations which must on my theory have existed between them, but abrupt, though perhaps very slight, changes of form.

—Charles Darwin, On the Origin of Species, 1859

5) Ami McKay mentions Advocate in her novel, The Birth House (The Birth House is set in Scot’s Bay, right across the Bay of Fundy from Advocate):

[My mother] never thought I’d get married, at least not until some old broken-toothed widower came over in a skiff from Advocate or Parrsboro, looking to take some new blood back to his village.

6) Bonus fact! Poet Elizabeth Bishop lived in Great Village, Nova Scotia, about 45 minutes east of Advocate. Her poem, “The Moose,” describes the Bay of Fundy tides (where Advocate is situated) and the road through Great Village, Parrsboro, and other villages near Advocate:

…One stop at Bass River.
Then the Economies 
Lower, Middle, Upper;
Five Islands, Five Houses,
where a woman shakes a tablecloth
out after supper…

7) Another bonus fact! (Because we’re getting a bit away from Advocate, but) writer Harry Thurston lives in Tidnish, Nova Scotia (about an hour or so from Advocate) and writes often about the Bay of Fundy and the salt marshes (Place Between the Tides).

High-Water Mark at PQL

High-Water Mark's now got it's very own page on The Porcupine's Quill website.

Confessions of a Reluctant Information Manager

The New Quarterly has posted their e-newsletter, which previews the upcoming issue (#113, due out in January, 2010). In it you can read my "e-exclusive," "Confessions of a Reluctant Information Manager: My First Semester of Library School." Want to know what I've been doing for the last 4 months? Read here!

And look for Issue 113, which features my story "You Wouldn't Recognize Me," on newsstands, in bookstores, and available online, this January!

Etching and Cross-Hatching


Recently I took a weekend-long etching/intaglio workshop at NSCAD. I made this garlic print:

I love etching! I loved how meditative it was to scrape lines onto a plate. I loved learning about cross-hatching. I loved the process of sketch to plate to acid bath to cleaning to inking to wiping to printing to cleaning, etc. etc. I've been trying to get that old-fashioned, early 20th century feeling in my illustrations as I try to figure out how to illustrate my kids' books. So now I've tried a few more pen and ink cross-hatched drawings. They don't turn out as well as actually etching, but I'm slowly getting the hang of it. Below, some of my drawings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

"We will sample it judiciously!"

"When Olena was a girl, she had called them lie-berries--a fibbing fruit, a story store--and now she had a job in one. She had originally wanted to teach English literature, but when she failed to warm to the graduate study of it, its french-fried theories--a vocabulary of arson!--she'd transferred to library school, where everyone was taught to take care of books, tenderly, as if they were dishes or dolls."

--from Lorrie Moore's "Community Life," Birds of America (1998)

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