DUKE STREET KINGS
Finally, a Fictitious Reality
My first novel Murder Incorporated was published in 2003. It is out of print. Back then I was exceedingly grateful to my family and friends for its extraordinarily modest sales; Murder topped the Edmonton Journal’s best seller list for one dizzying week. My mother told me recently that I now have a new, borrowed copy, starry-eyed admirer in her Montreal seniors’ residence and that my latest fan is not demented.
A dozen years on my second book is just weeks away from market. Ann has been diligently reading every one of the 500 pages in the bound digital proof of Duke Street Kings. I love my characters and the story I wrote though I am so sick of the process, the initial cursive writing in Hilroy copybooks, the transcription into Word, the rewrites, the successive drafts, the endless revisions, and my own feeble attempts at further editing refinements. There have been discussions, debates and arguments with my small publisher. The novel is a couple of hundred pages too long, the chapters are too long, everything I’ve worked on for years is stubbornly against the currently accepted publishing grain. Well, yes, nor could I create the space for a deus ex machina werewolf, wizard or vampire in the plot.
Tearing a strip off the Xpresspost parcel yesterday was bittersweet. While some of the minutes and hours seemed to last forever, twelve years had flown by. The urge to dance naked was tempered by blue reflection: two divorces (and obviously one marriage), a seven year yoke of personal bankruptcy and an extended bout of mild, untreated depression during which I thought more frequently of suicide than sex. I tried very hard but I could never drink quite enough to properly execute a garage joist dangle. I packed in my job at the ad agency before the shop could pack me out. My father died last November on his own pacific terms. Worse was my older brother’s passing in 2012, so shockingly out of sequence. I remember thinking at the time: You go home and be with your family and watch the Habs; I’ll take your place on the gurney.