Tag Archives: Kevin Chong

Why These Shoes Matter More than an MFA

I’m paraphrasing; read an interesting book review of British sociologist Katherine Hakim’s Honey Money: The Power of Erotic Capital, which argues that “erotic capital can be as professionally useful as a university degree,” and that, “women have been conditioned not to exploit their attractiveness for economic benefit.” I didn’t agree with her entire hypothesis but certainly she makes valid points. “Hakim claims heterosexual women’s erotic capital and fertility— their greatest trump cards—have been systematically undervalued and suppressed by religious fundamentalists, the patriarchy and even radical feminists who want to restrict women’s ability to benefit from their one major advantage over men, and to humiliate women who gain money or status though such activities.” Well, growing up, I was always uncomfortable with my sexuality and certainly didn’t feel at liberty to exploit it. I covered up, equating sexy with sleazy. I was actually loath to admit that I was afraid of men, their oh so keen response to my body nothing but overwhelming. I still don’t believe that being desired makes one powerful, not in and of itself, but as a happily lapsed Catholic, I’m able to revel in my body, mainly grateful it works, and do not hesitate to flaunt.

On the novel front, I’m working hard on a proposal, completed a synopsis and now must compose a scintillating query letter in order to avoid the dreaded slush pile. Feeling very good about this book, vital because I’m acting as my own agent. Apparently there are no agents in Canada worth pursuing. With a large part of the story set in United States, I suppose I could look down there, but the head reels at the thought, so I’ll focus my efforts north of the border for now, though I did contact several American colleagues to receive some promising leads. I’m very grateful for the help and guidance of friends Dennis E. Bolen, Gretl Rassmussen, Peter Trower, Julie Vik and Jenn Farrell.

So here’s the synopsis. Please don’t ask if it’s autobiographical. I feel much the way Beauty and Pity author Kevin Chong does. “You’d have to be an intellectual dwarf from Cloverdale to make that assumption.” My protagonist Fiona is not me and I am not Fiona. And though I may be a Surrey girl, I have a high IQ and stand 6 foot in heels.

The Town Slut’s Daughter

Synopsis

The Siren of Howe Sound, AKA Canadian poet Heather Haley’s debut novel, The Town’s Slut’s Daughter, is a tale of loss and transcendence, peopled with unforgettable characters. Fiona Larochelle’s journey unfolds in three sections with a mix of fact, fiction and startling events.

In part one, Girls With Guitars, Fiona flees a tortured relationship with mother Jeanette, and a harrowing home life of terror and physical abuse only to land in Vancouver’s violently blazing punk rock underground. Music provides a catalyst however; Fiona mines a talent for singing and songwriting to form an all-girl band, the Virgin Marries.

In part two, Girl With Guitar, Fiona is stranded in the United States after her bassist ODs and the Virgin Marrries scatter. Fiona is forced to navigate a minefield of vice, drug abuse, jealous lovers and predatory record producers as she works to rebuild her dream.

In part three, Girl with Ratty Hair, Fiona struggles to retain her voice while indulging in an obsession with cruel, dangerous men. She discovers that peace of mind is not possible with the volume cranked to ten. Rage may have facilitated Fiona’s quest in the beginning but it cannot deliver her. Amidst the tumult of the LA Riots, Fiona bolts her cocaine-fueled marriage to a modern-day Bluebeard. Throughout it all, a fierce, indomitable spirit prevails.

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(G)literati and Fighting the Good Fight

Author Kevin Chong

Where’s the poem? Swamped this week screening submissions for Visible Verse Festival 2011 and up to my eyeballs in experimental film, which happens every year. Without being semantical, I have to say poetic is not the same as visible verse, or a video poem or a cine-poem, or whichever term you prefer. I think I just got semantical.

Still laughing and sharing photos from Kevin Chong’s book launch of new novel Beauty and Pity at Vancouver’s infamous Penthouse nightclub, the first and likely the last time I’ll ever set my ass down in there. I was surprised; the interior does not reflect the fading building facade. Neither did the carpet reek of stale beer, wall of framed 8×10 black and white celebrity headshots only one of its charms. Anyway, I’ve spent enough time in strip clubs. Bartending was the only job I could find in New York City when I resided, or rather survived a year there in the 80s. Man, it was a tough town, nothing like it is now, inhabitable. A friend of a friend got me a job at the Baby Doll, a topless bar on White Street, just down from the Mudd Club, where we used to convene after our shifts ended at 2 AM, or at the sushi bar imbibing hot sake, which goes down well in the company of bitterly cold Manhattanites. Club management kept trying to get me to strip too. I was quite miserable after my band broke up and told them, “No thanks, I don’t miss the stage that much.” I only had to watch the dancers—what was left of them—flaunt it, appalled by the Wall Street fat cat CEOs and bankers turned on by such pathetic junkies. No way I was going to wind up down there.

But back to Vancouver. I love book launches that are beyond readings. Kevin commissioned a book trailer, directed and produced by mutual friends Pam Bentley and Tara Flynn and it was hilarious. The book jacket states “Malcolm Kwan is a slacker twenty-something Asian-Canadian who is about to embark on a modeling career.” Kevin had Owen Kwong, a real male model, portray him. Later during the reading, host Charles Demers applied makeup to Kevin’s face, and not expertly, bestowing him with a magnificent unibrow. Kevin admirably kept reciting throughout the lipstick and purple wig application. What an event! And so glamorous. I’m enjoying the book immensely, can recommend it.

Attended a Continue reading

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