Under Review

Nathan Pike

If ever there was a mystery novel in its purest form, Jettison would be among the forerunners. But this is not a mystery in the sense of crime and intrigue, cloak and dagger type shit. No, this is a mystery because half the time you will be left wondering what the hell is going on. To make matters even more mysterious, this is not really a novel at all but, instead, a series of short stories, each with their own dangling carrot of intrigue.  

Some of the stories follow a fairly straightforward premise. “The Amazing Spider Man,” for instance, offers an easy to digest tale. Focusing on 18-year old Peter and Mulysa, it portrays young love at its simplest. Hosting slight turns and a twist, nothing is too sinister, save for a nagging spider bite, Ontario’s bitter winter cold, and some fleeting back seat make-out sessions.

Not all of Nathaniel G. Moore’s stories are so clear. Many will leave you scratching your head. The opening tale of this weird, dark and twisting collection, “The Catullus Chainsaw Massacre,” leaves you feeling thrashed about. Centering on a Waterloo University student, Henry, and his roommate Catullus (the ancient Roman poet), who appears to be out of his mind, the reader is both sideswiped and awe-stricken. Catullus has an unhealthy fascination with Henry’s girlfriend, who Henry clearly would prefer Catullus to stay away from. But, unfortunately, Catullus does not understand boundaries. And here is where it twists and turns and leaves the reader in disarray. The last two pages are breathtaking and demand an immediate re-read in order to make the pieces fit a little more comfortably. In stories like these, the payoff comes with reading between the lines and “getting it” when the story wraps up.

Though striking, Moore’s commitment to the absurd can be a workout for the mind. Often, these stories are like being given pieces of lego, doll parts, and a couple of Uno cards with the instructions to build a waterproof shelter. Possible and rewarding, but work is required. Now, this is not to say that Jettison is an unenjoyable read. In fact, author, Nathaniel G. Moore writes with a style and imagination these eyes have rarely seen. I found myself pouring over certain passages because they were just so damned moving. And my only qualm with his style lies in the fact that it demands a presence of mind. When your attention drops momentarily, you find yourself floating into a confused head space, babbling senselessly.

While Jettison, with its quick shifting scenes, has its moments of confusion, it is the poetry with which Moore writes that keeps the reader interested. With some truly memorable lines and wicked wordplay, as well as a heap of pop culture references and figureheads cast into bizarre situations, I found myself wanting more, even though when all was said and done, I had to take a deep breath and give the crossed wires in my head a shake.


The Imposter

Podcast Series

Hailey Mah

Thirty minutes into Episode 34 of The Imposter, guest Sholem Krishtalka drops a nugget of truth which perfectly describes the entire podcast: “Criticism, for me, is always an act of care. Whether it’s good or bad, it’s always an act of care.”

The Imposter does not shy away from critiques of Canadian media, but only because it cares so damn much about art. In a national media climate where high-profile cases of cultural appropriation (and facetious calls for an Appropriation Prize) run free, the Imposter is a welcome antidote. It is a platform for Canadian artists to speak about their own lived experiences which inform their creative practice — along with a healthy dose of weirdness.

Highly listenable, The Imposter is a weekly dispatch of the country’s most exciting creators, run out of the podcast network Canadaland. The show acts as a curator, using equal parts prestige and eccentricity to create wonderfully unpredictable content. Unlike most gatekeepers to the art world, The Imposter casts a wide net. Recent guests have ranged from internationally renowned comics artist Guy Delisle to emerging Anishinaabe electronic musician Ziibiwan. What ties together this eclectic curatorial slate is a charismatic host, Aliya Pabani. She’s astoundingly candid with each interviewee; probing but never pushing in order to get to the heart of each artist’s work.

For example, in the bitingly titled “Why There Are No Period Pieces About Black People in Canada” (Episode 41) the filmmaker Charles Officer is interviewed about everything from his childhood hockey-playing aspirations, to untold stories of Canadian Black excellence. These topics are woven together by Pabani’s conversational dexterity to form a dialogue around narrative truth.

In Episode 34, “Century Egg,” Pabani speaks to the admin of the @CanadianArtWorldHaterz Instagram, who’s biting memes have spawned reactionary accounts and online vitriol. The interview could have easily been a frivolous gag, but instead it becomes the starting point for a vital discussion about the difficulty of making it in this country’s fragmented artistic scene.

This is The Imposter’s signature magic trick: conversations about each guest’s current work often transform into immersive reflections on living an artistic life. There’s an undercurrent of urgency in just about every interview — a common understanding that creating is often a tool for survival and livelihood. The Imposter is a reminder for us all: seek truth in art, even if things get a little weird in the process.