29 October 2011

Review from out west of SDJ

This lovely review comes from the blog of Carrie Mumford. I'm surprised by how many of the reviews actually move me. I mean, partly because I'm giddy that someone liked my book, but also because of insights that may not have occurred to me. For example, Carrie Mumford declares Snowball, Dragonfly, Jew a book about mourning. Although it was written out of mourning, I don't think I'd seen it as a book about that. But it sure makes sense.

Phew! Snowball, Dragonfly, Jew by Stuart Ross is one heavy read. You wouldn’t expect an unassuming little paperback (only 175 pages, and smaller than your average book) to pack such an emotional punch, but this book made my heart heavy. That’s not to say I wouldn’t read it again though; Stuart Ross is a masterful writer and I very much enjoyed his poetic prose.

Here’s a description from the publisher, ECW Press:

Ben is a performance artist about to enter his forties. His father and mother are both dead, and his brother, Jake, is a lousy source of information. So when he begins to struggle with a particularly nagging memory, he doesn’t know where to turn. The memory: the assassination — by his mother — of a prominent neo–Nazi. …

Stuart Ross’s first novel is a blend of suburban realism and out–of–body surrealism. Read more…

To me, Snowball, Dragonfly, Jew is about mourning. Mourning the loss of childhood, mourning the loss of two parents, and mourning the loss of a brother. The book is set in Toronto, and each chapter could almost stand as a short story on its own. Ross weaves these chapters together into an exploration of past where the lines between what really happened and what the narrator remembers are heavily blurred.

Snowball, Dragonfly, Jew has one of the most memorable opening sentences I have ever come across:

“To its surprise, the bullet sailed out of the gun my mother clutched unsteadily in both hands, and a moment later the big man’s yellow hard hat leapt from his thick head, into the air.”

How awesome is that?! Beginning a novel from the perspective of a bullet, especially a bullet that is involved in an incident that haunts the narrator throughout the work, seems brilliant to me.

I’d recommend Snowball, Dragonfly, Jew to anyone interested in serious literary fiction, poetry (it’s very poetic), or a view of a Jewish childhood (fascinating).

Over and out.

20 October 2011

Hands On Poems: A Critiquing Workshop

It's been a busy workshop season for me. And there is still space available in a two-day critiquing workshop I’m offering at the end of this month, in Toronto, presented by Mansfield Press.

If you’re interesting in registering for it, please contact me very soon. All the information is just below.

And here are some comments from participants of a different workshop (Plotless Fiction) I led this past weekend:

• “Every part challenged me to try and do something I would not normally do. There is some very neat work lurking outside my comfort zone.”
• “Really terrific workshop — best 8 hours of the year!”
• “Thanks for the playfulness and restoring my sense of humour toward writing!”
• “Helpful strategies! I can already see how the approaches will help me break new creative ground.”’
• “I got a ton of new ideas from the writing and discussion, even above and beyond the strategies we used. Can’t wait to write more like this!”
• “A fine, inspiring workshop. It renewed my interest in writing’s possibilities.”
• “I loved the welcoming environment. I’m leaving with so many ideas.”
• “I find these workshops so productive. What a delight!”


Saturday & Sunday, October 29 & 30, noon – 5 pm
Dupont/Symington area

Fee: $125 includes materials and light snacks.
Space is limited.

Prepayment guarantees your spot. To register, write Stuart at .

Poet and editor Stuart Ross leads a two-day workshop on critiquing poems. The ability to see what works and what doesn’t in one’s own poem is a crucial part of the writing practice. A writer can learn a great deal about editing and revising her own poems by honing her critiquing skills on the works of others. For this session, each participant will submit four to six poems in advance; the poems will be distributed to the participants before the workshop. Each day, poems by all of the writers will be examined and discussed. The critiquing will be punctuated by rapid writing projects that encourage new ways of looking at poetry.

Stuart Ross is the author of eleven books, including six collections of poetry, three of which were shortlisted for major awards: Farmer Gloomy’s New Hybrid (shortlisted for the 2000 Trillium Book Prize), I Cut My Finger (shortlisted for the 2008 ReLit Poetry Award), and Dead Cars in Managua (shortlisted for the 2009 ReLit Poetry Award). His short-story collection Buying Cigarettes for the Dog was shortlisted for the Alberta Publishers Award and the Alberta Readers Choice Award, and won the 2010 ReLit Short Fiction Award. His recent plotless novel, Snowball, Dragonfly, Jew, has received rave reviews in Canada and the U.S. Stuart has been teaching workshops across Canada for over two decades. He has edited poetry books for Mansfield Press (where he has his own imprint), Pedlar Press, ECW Press, BookThug, McGilligan Books, and Insomniac Press. Stuart is also the Fiction & Poetry Editor at This Magazine. His seventh collection of poetry is due out from Anvil Press in spring 2012.