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Dazed & Confused
Is it me? Real reviews below. I would like to discuss, but that's not the best idea and would probably go off the rails pretty quick. I can't really change anything, otherwise it wouldn't be me writing a book, so there might be more of this in the future. Hell, the confusion has me confused! It feels a bit odd to leave behind a wake of people who can't tell which way is up in my books. Perhaps a reading guide is required?

"I was just confused the whole time I read this."

The Fecund:

"...couldn't figure out what was happening or where it was happening.."

"I'm not too sure what happened."
"Most of the book I felt kind of baffled..."
"...very confusing..."
"Super confusing. Still didn't understand what was going on after ten pages."

Head Full:

"I can't tell you anything that happened except what it said on the back of the book."

And Now a Giveaway of The Fecund's Melancholy Daughter!

ARCs of Head Full of Mountains are heading out. The layout is beautiful. So many nice details. Still available for pre-order. It's gonna be so good-looking...

And in continued celebration of the impending publication of number three, number two, The Fecund's Melancholy Daughter, is being given away, for free, over at Goodreads:


Filaria Giveaway!
Head Full of Mountains is currently being edited, and is available for pre-order. I'm really excited about this one. The cover, by Erik Mohr, is stunning, as always. Fabulous fabulist Zachary Jernigan, thus far, is the only person to have read the book in its current form. He has this to say about it: http://zacharyjernigan.com/blog/brent-hayward. (If you haven't read Jernigan's book, No Return, you should; it's great and smart and sexy and has the power to restore our beleaugured faith in genre.)

Celebrating the impending publication of Head Full of Mountains, there will be giveaways of my first two books, Filaria, and The Fecund's Melancholy Daughter, over at Goodreads. First up, Filaria.


Goodreads Book Giveaway

Filaria by Brent Hayward


by Brent Hayward

Giveaway ends March 05, 2014.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

Somewhat at a Loss
After many moons of working on the ms for Head Full of Mountains, scribbling during every nook and cranny in the daytime that I could find or eke, egged on by beer and caffiene, a few weeks late, the file has been unceremoniously attached to an email and sent off into the great www. A cover is under way, deep in the secret headquarters of E. Mohr. Tags are appearing in goodreads and amazon, popping up like intermittant toadstools. Waiting now. A strange, calm time in the cycle of a book, like holding your breath and closing your eyes before jumping... Not sure what to do with my hands. Start another one? I've come perilously close, and it hasn't yet been a week....


Marked Men, Fix My Brain.

Colour Me Impressed
Week two of vacation from the day job: I saw The Replacements' first show in 22 years, at Riot Fest - with many other good bands, Stooges, Dinosaur Jr - and I saw Screaming Females, in some punk basement West of here. Both of these shows were so great - especially after many months of seeing nothing live. Also, I 'finished' the first draft of Head Full of Mountains (87k?), though the ms is by no means finished, nor is it really a first draft. Handing it over in 4 months, if it doesn't kill me in my sleep. What else? Well, I read the new Chip Delany novel, Through the Valley of the Nest of Spiders, and I'm just shattered by how great and how sad it was. God, this whole aging thing is wearing pretty thin. Anyhow, I like I said, I saw The Replacements...

(Also got the flu, was attacked by wasps (9 stings), and freaking Erik Mohr is making me a freaking grown up website!)


1: The Hedge
When we bought this house-- well, that house-- about 15 years ago, it had, among other issues, a wall-like hedge, probably 8 feet high, along the front of the property. So, maybe 10 feet wide overall, ratty cedar, I think, only thing like it around. Totally blocked out the sidewalk / road, full-on recluse style. An old lady had lived in the house and she obviously wanted to be cut off from all sorts of traffic; typically, I decided to live with this eyesore instead of doing something about it, such as dig the ugly fucker up.

Keeping the hedge, though, necessetated, at minimum, a bi-annual trim. Perhaps needlessly, I'll point out that electric hedge-trimmers, the safety triggers of which are easily outsmarted, and overextending at the top of a step ladder, holding onto said nasty machine, running in one hand, are a bad combo.

A fucking Portugese parade that day. Jesus in effigy, crown of thorns. Dundas filled with slow-moving old people, oblivious to the car until the horn's blast, right behind them; then they jumped.

It still took forever to get to the hospital, just a few blocks away.

My hand was in a plastic bag.

The bag was filling with blood.

The doctor was a cool, young, dark, and good-looking. Smart too, obviously. He got pissed when I told him what had happened. I understand the reaction. Most accidents mean someone had done something stupid. Cutting a hedge on a ladder, and losing balance, slicing the meat of your thumb to the bone as you fell, is stupid. I was wasting his time and resources.

A month later, after healing-- I still have frankenstein scar-- a nice lady from the hospital called me, and called me regularly after that. I didn't think, at first, much about these calls, just hyper customer service, I figured, chatting amiacably, flattered to talk about myself in a remote way, to someone I'd never met, just the fool that had nearly severed his hand with a hedge trimmer and the nice lady at the hospital desk.

It took a few more calls for me to beging to suspect that the reason this wonan was calling was because the hospital suspected I had tried to kill myself. Every call she asked what made me happy, and if I was doing it. I told her music, but that I couldn't play anything, only badly. I liked listening, and buying music, finding a record that did the trick. That made me happy.

She continued to call me every few months, to see if I still bought music, and if I still loved music, and so I came to realize that liking music, according to this professional, was my measuring stick.

Well, I still like it. I still come across albums that blow me away. A handful of people, usually pretty young, picking up the same tired instruments-- guitar, bass, drums, mic-- and making fucking amazing sounds. Anyone who says music was better before, and that good stuff has ceased to be recorded, has hit a personal wall. There's a ton of good shit out there....

This will need to be a two parter. Must sleep. Next up: Australian punk and creative zeitguiest.

Precurser to the thoughts about the next
novel, the rock book.

Except for the Australian part.

Meanwhile gotta complete Head Full of Mountains first. Rounding home, end in sight. Can't wait to see the cover.

Charles Newman
Next to CZP, my favorite publisher is Dalkey Archive. They are consistent, support experimental writing, and have a tendancy to offer the fat books of metafiction I have a major soft spot for. (Other presses come close, and deserve at least perusal, if not patronage: FC2, Dzanc, Prime, Soft Skull, NYRB, Coffee House...) Recently, I discovered that Dalkey was bringing out the last work of an author I had never heard of, one Charles Newman. The hyperbole for this 1000 pp novel-- "more than twenty years in the making, and containing a cast of characters, breadth of insight, and degree of stylistic legerdemain to rival such staggering achievements as William H. Gass’s The Tunnel, Carlos Fuentes’s Terra Nostra, Robert Coover’s The Public Burning, or Péter Nádas’s Parallel Lives"-- got my attention; the books listed were all great and editions of them sagged my laden shelves. (Except for The Tunnel. What the hell did I do with my copy? Surely I didn't sell it?) Anyhow, naturally, I googled Charles. There was a brief wiki page. A few copies of his books (three novels and two collections of essays), long out of print, were available on Alibris, but for a writer of such alleged calibre, very little surfaced. On the goodreads site, there were zero reviews, no covers, misinformation. I tidied this up a bit, as a librarian, and felt like someone straightening flowers on a neglected grave.

I ordered the books, got them shipped to me from various places in the States, and though I have not read one from cover to cover yet, I've dabbled in them enough to look forward to reading one or two; the elements that appeal to me are clearly evident: irreverence; a style that keeps the reader on his/her toes; intelligence...

I guess what I want to get at is that I feel this somewhat melancholy aura about Charles Newman, who is dead now, and his semi-forgotten ouvre, an affinity I can't explain. A life is a funny thing. I see pictures of the man-- good looking, healthy and shirtless in shades, smoking a pipe on the deck of a boat, with a sort of Hunter Thompsonesque vibe, or looking over his shoulder, an intimate history with the photographer evident in his wry expression-- and I wonder about his laugh, what he did for money, if he drank too much. Who did he have relationships with? All of these people, including the photographer, would be ancient now, or gone altogether...

Life is a funny thing...

Musically, I've been listening to The Real Kids, whose legacy seems to sort of echo that of Charles, falling between the cracks, and to more Austrailian bands, like Eddy Current Suppression Ring and the fabulous Royal Headache, whose debut self-titled album is still on heavy rotation. Honestly, I have not heard a record as good as this in a long while. Oh yeah, Gentleman Jesse too. Here's some clips. Study them, go see the bands if you can (except for The Real Kids, I guess, because the boat sailed on those guys). One day they will be old men, unable to play, or vanished altogether from this crazy planet...





The Song Remains The Same
No idea why I gave this entry the Zep title. Seemed right somehow. Maybe because I'm slowly coming around to those dudes...

The biggest news is that the new book has changed title from Mountains to Head Full of Mountains, for various reasons, mostly dull, though I've now been told that I can't change it to anything else, so Head Full of Mountains it is. This is sort of a riff on the Aldiss book Barefoot in the Head, which was part of the druggie New Wave of British sf. A strange book indeed. I have grown to like the new, expanded title and I hope it still fits when I hand the ms in to CZP. Currently, I have about 38000 words on virtual paper, but have just finished an extensive edit. More new stuff to be written over the next few weeks, when we hit the West Coast...

Something I find curious, after studying the reading habits of other writing folks on Goodreads, is how a lot of them stick to reading the same sorts of books that they write, genre-wise. Does this mean purity, or limitation? Is staying free from the chaos a good thing?

Cloud Nothings, with their kick ass drummer.


2012 CBC Bookies
Notified this week that TFMD is nominated for a Bookie award! In the running with some heavy hitters. When I first checked, I was dead last. Now I'm gaining. The voting closes on March 31st. Here's the link:


In other news, Mountains continues to grow, yet ever-so-slowly...

Musically, it's all Tim Hardin and Bill Fay these days. As the man says, be not so fearful.


In a recent goodreads review of an anthology featuring a story of mine, in which the reviewer railed against unresolved mystery in fiction, my piece was singled out as 'the worst offender'. I can live with that: I certainly likes me some unresolved mysteries, unreliable narrators, open ends. But then the story was called 'sloppy'. This stung. Since I (like most writers, I'd like to believe) labour over every word and sentence and semi-colon until my brain hurts, and have never sold anything that I felt was rushed or that I wasn't immensely proud of, my first reaction was, naturally, anger. Sloppy?

But not many good things can come from anger, so a deep breath was taken, and another.

I've read numerous thumbs-down reviews of books that were so wondrous to me that they changed my life, and I know the truth in one man's meat (or woman's) is another's poison. Conversely, I have hated books that everyone else seems to love.

Iain Bank's first novel, The Wasp Factory, was so badly panned that, when it finally caught on, the first few pages were a litany of reviews about 'the dark days of publishing' and what a steaming pile of crap the groundbreaking book was.

By far, though, for me, positive reviews outweigh the negative-- yet there certainly have been some doozies over the years. When Cleaner, my second story, was published in 1998, in the venerable Canadian magazine OnSpec, Tangent said: "We get no real clue as to who the characters are, how they got there, or even where the bridge is. The story is all detail and no context -- no drama either. The characters do things, including some theoretically adventurous things, but I couldn't bring myself to care. The illustration outshines the narration." Yowza.

For years, unfortunately, this was the only online review of my fiction. Later, when Phallex Comes Out got published, not only did it get nominated for StorySouth fiction of the year but it promptly drew the ire of an Australian reviewer, who found "Hayward's treatment of the theme of sexuality, for the most part mature and diverse, disappoints where the author reverts to the dubious ideas of women's fantasies of pretended non-consensuality and, in the conclusion, of the final triumph of the phallus over all." Fortunately, to my rescue, a rather scholarly article was later published (again, ironically, in Tangent) refuting this criticism of my 'dubious ideas'. (Called Misunderstanding Sexuality in Brent Hayward's Phallex Comes Out, it can be found here:

Since then, the better part of a decade's gone by, and both novels have appeared, each having the honour of receiving a starred review in Publishers Weekly, among many other accolades from many other venues. However, Filaria and The Fecund have their detractors, too. One reviewer likened Filaria to walking outside on a gloomy day (like that was a bad thing), and another didn't like the chatelaine's attitude in The Fecund.

I often get flak about my endings, or lack of them, as is pointed out.

I've also been screamed at in a workshop for being 'irresponsible', and once an elderly lady in a creative writing class-- who liked to write poems about her garden-- took offense to my own poem about being on the, er, receiving end of oral pleasure while inebriated, said to me, in a very upset voice: You can't write about that!

But you can. You can write what you want. Will others like it? Maybe, if you're lucky, or good at what you do. And if the timing is right. Will everyone like it? No. Not even possible. But write what you like.

Thrilling when others dig your stuff, especially when they post about it, or review on a website or newspaper or magazine; not so thrilling to encounter a less-than-glowing review, but all part of the process.

Hey, just like Tom, my boss, told me recently, apropos of nothing (in a weird dad-type moment): You know, not everyone likes you.


But sloppy?


This week brings to me The Raspberries. Not sure how I hadn't heard of them before, but there you go. Some Beach Boys, some Big Star, some surprisingly great guitar and very effective, almost cheesy vocals...