November 17, 2018

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Debut collection proves wickedly weird

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 17/12/2016 (700 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Nathaniel G. Moore’s first short-story collection is certainly not for everyone’s taste, but is a good introduction to the British Columbia-based writer who’s been compared to Philip K. Dick and William S. Burroughs.

The 12 stories, most with pop-culture-inspired titles, combine elements of horror, science fiction, humour, hipster romance and flat-out weirdness.

The first two stories seem to meander a bit, but that might just be because Moore’s writing style takes some getting used to. His stories, often told by unlikable characters, take some pretty outlandish turns, and what you think might just be a tangent becomes the whole story. But give Moore time and there are some genuine laugh-out-loud — and even gasp-out-loud — moments that are wickedly fun to read.

The strongest stories are those that are just so strange that they beg to be read over again. A great example is the nine-page Professor Buggles, a bizarre mirror-world of a Hallmark-worthy Christmas story about a father who gives his 18-year-old daughter the gift of an English-teacher action figure (“He’s also a writer; you can have him do readings and get drunk at bars”).

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 17/12/2016 (700 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Nathaniel G. Moore’s first short-story collection is certainly not for everyone’s taste, but is a good introduction to the British Columbia-based writer who’s been compared to Philip K. Dick and William S. Burroughs.

The 12 stories, most with pop-culture-inspired titles, combine elements of horror, science fiction, humour, hipster romance and flat-out weirdness.

The first two stories seem to meander a bit, but that might just be because Moore’s writing style takes some getting used to. His stories, often told by unlikable characters, take some pretty outlandish turns, and what you think might just be a tangent becomes the whole story. But give Moore time and there are some genuine laugh-out-loud — and even gasp-out-loud — moments that are wickedly fun to read.

The strongest stories are those that are just so strange that they beg to be read over again. A great example is the nine-page Professor Buggles, a bizarre mirror-world of a Hallmark-worthy Christmas story about a father who gives his 18-year-old daughter the gift of an English-teacher action figure ("He’s also a writer; you can have him do readings and get drunk at bars").

Another family oddity is Jaws, a father’s first-person account to his children about his long-ago love affair with their aunt, complete with far too many erotic details. You can picture the shocked look on the faces of the kids as he overshares details about their sweaty bodies and sexual preferences.

Moore’s Canadian-ness also shines through in many of the stories, but not in a Heritage Minutes kind of way — more like something from a Bruce MacDonald movie.

Also by Douglas Coupland is a bizarre piece of Canadiana that imagines a future event honouring the career of the iconic Canadian writer on the 50th anniversary of his novel Generation X. The gala is attended by a who’s-who of Canadian icons, including Sarah Polley, Alanis Morissette, "film director Drake" and "Tim Hortons’ spokesperson Bryan Adams."

A Higher Power is told from the point of view of Amanda, an alcoholic who tells her AA group about her teenage years stalking prime minister Paul Martin and "sex icon and salad dressing king" Paul Newman, who comes across as Martin’s homoerotic henchman.

There’s also Blade Runner, a sexual misadventure that takes place in a psych ward and features enough hockey references to make the Tragically Hip proud.

Another bizarro-Canadiana entry is a story about an artist whose greatest work is created from an image of a naked Gordon Lightfoot she obtained from her mother, a retired CBC camera operator.

Not all the stories are Canada-focused, though. Some could take place anywhere; one of the highlights follows a Disney lawyer who is hired shortly before the company buys Lucasfilm, a move that seems to solve all his woes.

Some of the pieces have appeared before in various publications, including the National Post. Like many short-story collections, not every offering is a winner, but overall, it’s a pretty fun read, as long as you’re not in the mood for feel-good stories with straight narratives.

Alan MacKenzie is a Winnipeg-based writer

and communications specialist.

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