Antonio Michael Downing

December 8th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink


ISBN 978-0-9864924-2-6
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Molasses “My real name is Amanda Vrazda and I suppose I owe you a story.” Thus begins an extraordinary narrative. In passage after passage of virtuosic prose, from erotic fantasy to Bible thumping to John Donne, from urban Ontario to hillbilly Tennessee to French Quarter New Orleans, the metaphysical and psychological pressure on the narrator, and on the reader, mounts seamlessly towards an unforgettable and inevitable conclusion, the true identity of the shape-shifting Molasses.

Antonio Michael Downing was born there, grew up here and spent much time elsewhere in between. This is his first novella in years.

Book design by Christian Snyder.  Cover photo by Ilia.

“Masked as a revenge tale, Molasses patty-cakes perspectives from chapter to chapter as characters identities are exposed and discovered. A mysterious Le Downing propels the plot while Molasses – a performance pseudonym Downing uses – is the man everyone wants, but can’t understand. Bordering a line between a gritty exploitation film-like storyline and post-modern text, this novella is a high-speed chase through the American south. This may be Downing’s ‘first novella in years,’ as his bio states, but let’s hope it’s not his last.”  —Telegraph Journal, Canada

“Downing, who was born in Trinidad, drew heavily from his family’s history for the framework of Molasses. Loosely explained, it follows the lives of two young women who each face an identity crisis when the man they both love, Molasses, suddenly leaves. “This idea of loss forcing someone into an external odyssey that really is an internal journey is a part of my personal story,” Downing says.

“As a child, the death of my grandmother when I was 12 precipitated my immigration to Canada where suddenly everything that I knew about life was thrown into question. This profoundly shaped the way I engage with the world. I think the journey of (the book’s main characters) Ophelia and Amanda Vrazda are personifications of my own quest to reconcile loss with identity.”

As a writer, Downing describes himself as a sensualist, trying to draw from all five senses. He is also keenly aware of the rhythmic potential of words. “The experience of reading Molasses, I’m told, is very confusing at times but rewarding if you pay close attention to the unfolding sensations. I’m very fond of Michael Ondaatje — another colonial island child-immigrant — Albert Camus and Kathy Acker. But I really think my love of jazz and punk rock music like Miles Davis and the Clash, and the hymns I learned on my grandmother’s lap in Trinidad, has had more influence on how I write.” — The Record, Kitchener, Ontario, Canada

Andrew Hunt

November 1st, 2010 § 60 comments § permalink

Dahlia Boyz

ISBN 978-0-9864924-1-9
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Dahlia BoyzColin and Dwight are on a mission to Los Angeles to find Uncle Skip, who is obsessed by the unsolved 1947 Black Dahlia murder. “She wasn’t some self-loathing skank who turned tricks for drugs and money,” Skip admonishes them, “She was Elizabeth Short. Born twenty-nine July in nineteen and twenty-four in Hyde Park, Massachusetts, and murdered—very, very savagely—on, or around, the fifteenth of January, nineteen hundred and forty-seven . . . I want you to show her the respect she deserves.” A five-pound-burrito-challenge, a near-death curbing and one titty-bar later, a kind of truth emerges. The Dahlia Boyz learn something about respect and dignity.

Andrew Hunt teaches at the University of Waterloo and is the author of two books on the Vietnam era in American History. His next book will be about Ronald Reagan and cold war culture in the 1980s. He writes a regular newspaper column and blogs on veganism and animal rights.

Book design by Christian Snyder.

“The horrific 1947 slaying of a Los Angeles woman named Elizabeth Short caused a news media sensation. And in the decades since, the so-called Black Dahlia case has been the inspiration for books, pop songs, movies and even video games. University of Waterloo history professor Andrew Hunt uses the continuing interest in the unsolved murder as a backdrop for this darkly funny novella, published by Blaurock Press of Kitchener. As the story opens, young Colin Ellis, owner of the struggling Bazooka Video & Media shop in Atlanta, is summoned by his Aunt Harriet who begs him to cross the country to track down his Uncle Gordon, the estranged younger brother of Colin’s father, Melvyn. Melvyn has Alzheimer’s disease and it’s distressing to Harriet that he is calling out for Gordon, an odd duck who is believed to be in Los Angeles leading guided tours of sites with connections to the Black Dahlia case. Colin’s cousin, Dwight Sperry, agrees to join the mission and together they fly west. Dwight’s a colourful character who speaks in an appropriately colourful way, but he more than meets his match when the two pals finally catch up to Uncle Gordon. Hunt, who was born in Calgary and raised in the United States, has an ear for the spoken word and the lively conversations that he has penned are an entertaining feature of this tale, which is a carefully crafted blend of scenes both funny and forlorn”.— John Fear, May 14,  Waterloo Region Record, Ontario, Canada

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