Canadian Noir #3

To celebrate the release of The Exile Book of New Canadian Noir, your very humble me hereby presents a series of short, intensely sweet interviews with participating writers on their contributions to this already-classic anthology.

Entry the third: Steve Vernon and Patrick Fleming!


Steve VernonStory: “A Square Yard of Real Estate” by Steve Vernon

Describe your story for the twitter: The bones of reality dressed in a skin of metaphor. A man falls through the cracks with sad ease. #NEWCANADIANNOIR

Now as an episode of your favourite television series: The Twilight Zone. Imagine, if you will, a man slipping into a state of transience. As played by Humphrey Bogart and scripted by Charles Bukowski. You have entered the Twilight Zone.

What does “noir” mean to you? Tune in a black and white television. The smell of pipe smoke and the color of shadow upon nicotine-stained wall paper. Bitter words and bitter truth. The dark at the end of the tunnel. A pair of cracked sunglasses. A half-remembered kōan, in tweed and leather patches.

Tell us anything about your story: I wrote “A Square Yard of Real Estate” after years of working on Barrington Street as a professional palm reader. Over the years I have watched the street slowly crumble and give way to the siege of circumstance and bad political decisions. The protagonist is based on a good friend who ran a bookstore. Both the bookstore and the new age store where I worked are both gone now. Even today I cannot escape the feeling of melancholy as I walk down Barrington Street.

Steve Vernon has been writing and telling stories for over forty years, with many sales to Cemetery Dance, The Horror Show, Hot Blood, and others. You would think after four decades the man would really find something better to do with his days.

Story: “A Nothingale” by Patrick FlemingPatrick Fleming

Describe your story for the twitter: A streetwise gutterpunk assumes her dying friend’s identity and gets in over her head with something far worse than yr typical urban danger.

Now, as an episode of your favourite television series: Parks & Recreation. April Ludgate dresses up as John Ralphio’s sister Mona Lisa (sing it with me: “The woooorst!”) in order to steal something from Tammy 2’s apartment. Things, as Ron Swanson might say, do not go well.

What does “noir” mean to you? Everything tarnished.

Tell us anything about your story: For a while there, I was listening to the A FramesBlack Forest album almost constantly. I think the bleakness of its WWII-based imagery did something to my sensibilities, like permanently. It was at least a major factor in what inspired me to come up with a black forest of my own.

Patrick Fleming live in Toronto and feel lucky to work in the neighbourhoods this story is set in. If you’re there much, we’ve probably passed each other on the street.

The Exile Book of New Canadian NoirThe Exile Book of New Canadian Noir — available now at all fine bookstores, and probably a few of the less-reputable ones.