The arrival of autumn finds Calgary shifting into a different literary gear. Wordfest, which saw over 90 authors and artists this year, wraps up this weekend, and National Novel Writing Month is right around the corner. For me, fall is mostly about digging into short stories.
My regular writing routine focuses mainly on manuscripts through the spring and summer. As September comes around, I’m often either putting a recently completed project away for review over the Christmas holidays or else sending it out for reader feedback, which leaves me well placed to attend to the October CBC short story contests.
“Dinner In Carcosa” was my first stab at a short story in a long, long time. The late-1990s stories that make up The Twilight of Idle/Labellypock collection are probably the last pieces of fiction I’ve written under 5,000 words before that.
To help prepare for this season’s short story efforts, I enlisted the help of Jorge Luis Borges, the Argentinian maestro. Filled with tales of knife-wielding gauchos, mysterious labyrinths, monsters, tigers, war heroes, and librarians, Borges works with an economy wherein one well-placed word dramatically shifts the entire orientation of the story. I was particularly enchanted by “The Zahir”, a mystical object that draws individuals to it like the samizdat in David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest.
But sadly, no gnomes.