Jane Eaton Hamilton

"At the bottom of the box is hope." – Ellis Avery.

Category: books

Hunger–my story collection (not Roxane Gay’s memoir I’m reading now)

When I was sorting through my archives, I discovered two reviews of my 2003 short story collection Hunger, one from Event Magazine and one from The Fiddlehead. I thought folks might like to read them. I’d forgotten they existed, and I so loathed the cover the publisher gave that book that I immediately orphaned it. Don’t get me wrong. I am a sizable fan of the artist Egon Shiele, but I didn’t think the chosen image evinced hunger, and the book design was, frankly, pug ugly. I was stunned by the back cover, or lack of back cover, which wasn’t even designed. I know I could have checked the typical stylistic quirks out when the press asked me to publish with them, but I didn’t. At the time, I was on a Gulf Island, and there were none of that press’s books I could find in the library, and it was before the internet was really going. I didn’t see the mess of that book until the press had gone to print (probably on purpose … some presses respect their writers and some don’t) and when I got my author copies, a signature fell out of the first one I picked up, proving that the production values sucked. I felt embarrassed and humiliated. After that, I just–refused it. I always knew it contained great stories, since most of them had won pretty major awards, and it went on to be shortlisted for the Ferro-Grumley, earning it a lovely quote from Emma Donoghue, but I hated its look, so I orphaned it.

Anyway, what a difference 14 years makes–and doesn’t make. I still loathe that cover and the production values (you’ll note the cover is not included in this blog post, and it doesn’t appear on Amazon either) but I now imagine I might like the book if I read it again, because in tearing apart litmags and anthologies to make tear sheets for the archives, I found these:

Event review of Hunger

Painting the Babys Room Green review of Hunger

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The Sellout by Paul Beatty

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The Sellout won the Man Booker Prize in 2016 and in light of what the US is facing down now, I think we all need to read it if we haven’t already.

The Sellout

Published by Oneworld 

Born in the ‘agrarian ghetto’ of Dickens on the southern outskirts of Los Angeles and raised by a single father, a controversial sociologist, the narrator of The Sellout spent his childhood as the subject in racially charged psychological studies. He is led to believe his father’s pioneering work will result in a memoir that will solve his family’s financial woes. But when his father is killed in a police shoot-out, he realises there never was a memoir. All that’s left is the bill for a drive-through funeral.

Fuelled by this deceit and the general disrepair of his hometown, the narrator sets out to right another wrong: Dickens has literally been removed from the map to save California from further embarrassment. Enlisting the help of the town’s most famous resident – Hominy Jenkins – he initiates the most outrageous action conceivable: reinstating slavery and segregating the local high school which lands him in the Supreme Court.

What follows is a remarkable journey that challenges the sacred tenets of the United States Constitution, urban life, the civil rights movement and the holy grail of racial equality – the black Chinese restaurant.

This what we get killed for

My heart chokes for all the victims, survivors and loved ones of the Orlando executions. We hold you in our queer hearts. Always. All ways.

Excerpt from my 1998 poetry chapbook, Going Santa Fe, which won the League of Canadian Poets Poetry Chapbook Award judged by bill bissett.

62)

 

Tell me something about lesbians

 

We are famous for potlucks

 

Tell me something real

 

I am trying to tell you

she and I are the same thing

 

I am trying

to tell you I am a woman

she is a woman

the same thing

as you, just

two people uniting

netting love from the

marine heavens

 

We comfort each other

when the sky churns like a cauldron

grey foam

 

Wouldn’t you wish this pleasure

on anyone?

 

63)

 

The truth is I grew the

tub of nodding sunflowers

And the bowl of chicken

on the harvest table? I cooked

And the quilt you lie on? I sewed it

And the book in your hands? I wrote it

And the baby’s cheek? I kissed it

 

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Weekend is out! A real, physical objet!

JEH Weekend is here!

JEH with the artifact itself… May 2016

launch, Vancouver, June 6 Historic Joy Kogawa House 7 pm

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