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Showing posts with label Montreal. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Montreal. Show all posts

Saturday, July 6, 2013


Review by Mel Bossa

Mount Royal: There's Nothing Harder Than Love
Basil Papademos
Tightrope Books, 2012

Montreal, late eighties, and Johnny is hooked on junk.
In the "Open city", he struggles to feed his habit alongside a cast of characters which act a bit like a fucked up Greek chorus, and all is pretty tolerable until Tony, their main pusher gets "relieved of his duties" for fronting too many times and coming up short, and good ol' Johnny is handed a pager by The Man and steps into Tony's shoes.

Thus begins a downward spiral for our hero, as he runs from whore, to girlfriend, to potential lover, to mama's boys, to paranoid conspiracy theorist transsexual, to dominatrix, to pretty boy gigolos, trying to keep everybody satisfied and high, and accomplishing this marvelous feet while keeping his own habit on the level.

These adventures of the damned take place in the claustrophobic neighborhood around the Main, in spots like La Cabane, The Bar Fly, The Bifteck, les Foufs, and around old Griffintown and the Milton district. For a Montrealer who still hangs around some of these places, it was simply fantastic to read about these iconic spots in all of their eighties' glory.

The writing is reminiscent of Henry Miller and has all of Burroughs wonderful wit and darkness, but the cool thing about Papademos' narrator, is that he isn't a writer or an artist, and so, there isn't a sense of an outsider looking into the peephole. We are in the room with these people and someone is looking at us. Not the other way around.
Adding to this, is the tone of the novel, which begins with a sort of frenzied despair, and slowly releases into a more melancholic, almost contemplative mood.

The novel ends with the Montreal Massacre, and I loved the way nothing but a few sentences were enough to give me chills.

Now, what about the MountRoyal in all this?
The Mountain is a character is this book. It acts as a temptress, a mother, a sister-in-arms, a vixen, a teacher, and for some, it is the Grim Reaper, come to claim her dues.

The language is sharp, the prose is at times richly poetic, the insights are great and right-on, and there is of course, just enough controversy and sex to quickened the blood.

It depicts a time when Montreal was indeed, an open city, when there was a sense of freedom here...
It really is a snapshot of a time and place worth remembering and this novel should and will take its place in the ranks of those important novels, alongside those books which chronicle the underbelly of cities.

Those books that show us the stained underwear under the million dollar dress.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Tightrope Books presents Toronto & Montreal release parties!

you are invited to release parties for...

there's nothing harder than love

the new novel by Basil Papademos

Live show, followed by Q&A and book signing in...
WED. JUNE 06, 2012
783 College St.
Doors Open 7:30pm
MON. JUNE 25, 2012
87 Ste-Catherine Est
Doors Open 9:00pm
Pete's Candy Store, NYC
Boit 999, Athens
Ubud Literary Festival, Bali
Bangkok Lit Festival

Tightrope Books launches...
Mount Royal: there's nothing harder than love
by Basil Papademos
A hilarious ride through addiction, sex,
music, movies, madness and more.
If a book ever needed a parental warning sticker, this is it.

Release parties in Toronto and Montreal June 2012

William S. Burroughs described earlier writing by Papademos as “morally dangerous.” The novel is a wildly entertaining roller-coaster ride, which combines ferociously clever slapstick, frenetic satire, and scorching love scenes to expose a turbulent 1980s Montreal. Mount Royal follows petty thief, drug dealer, and ladies’ man, Johnny Carp, as he explores his sexuality and unearths political cover-ups. The book examines issues of sexual power and individual identity, and the effect of history on us all. Concluding with the 1989 Montreal Massacre, the novel is, at its core, a bittersweet romance–a love letter to a time and a place.

Basil Papademos is the author of the novel The Hook (Emergency Press). A former resident of both Toronto and Montreal, he currently lives in Bangkok.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Just for Tonight...

Maybe time to begin posting a couple more excerpts of Mount Royal. Christ, the thing's been cooking in the back shed long enough. Really, publishing is like watching grass grow. 
just for tonight
But, hey, it took so long and was backed up by enough talented friends and associates that it might turn out okay... So here's an excerpt that includes a dire approximation of my old colleague in the photos...

...The moment I hang up somebody starts riding the door buzzer, going crazy on the thing. I run down ready to flip out. It’s Hennessy. His usually crafty features are sweaty and distressed. He skips around me and heads upstairs, starts to rattle on about some government yenta who wants to be double-teamed. The Hen says he’s haggled her up to a hundred and fifty bucks over the phone, but she gets right of first refusal upon seeing the merchandise in person. With almost zero endorphins in my blood, the idea of performing three-way sexual calisthenics with some extra feisty stranger holds about as much appeal as a steak knife colonoscopy.
“She’ll slam the door in our faces,” I tell him. “You look like stepped-on cat shit. Christ, your skin’s not even brown. It’s gray.”
Hennessy adjusts his oversized bowler and brushes off the ragged black suit. “You aren’t exactly appetizing either, you know. I wouldn’t vomit on you if I was paid.”
“Well, that would depend on how much, wouldn’t it?”
“If you have any bright ideas, Johnny, I’m listening.”
“Okay, okay. So where is this hot-to-trot character?”
“Outremont. She’s a doctor, part of the inner sanctum at the Ministry of Culture.”
“Inner sanctum of my ass. Will she write for us?”
“She’s not that kind of doctor.”
“What the fuck? I’ve never understood this pretentious academic bullshit. What good is having Doctor in front of your name if you can’t write a goddamn narcotics prescription? It shouldn’t be allowed. It’s phony advertising.”
Hennessy sighs at my kvetching. “Can we go now?”

When we get to Outremont the deal seems like it might be okay. Nice Modernist box house with mellow Nordic box furniture. The quasi-doctor bureaucrat doesn’t gack at the sight of us. She wears a black cat-suit, which isn’t the best outfit for her short, wide physique, but what the hell, the woman’s pleasant enough as we sit in some sort of ante-room, chatting. Who knows, maybe she’ll do most of the work. But then we find out what she really wants is to have us double-team her husband across his home-office desk while she plays audience and jerks off with some adult toys. I glare at Hennessy. He gives me a weak shrug. Oops.
Hubby’s a snarky, cavey chested middle-aged guy. He’s already down to nothing but a pair of blue and white Y-fronts and has patches of gray hair on his shoulder blades. “Where did you find these two specimens? They look like refugees from a palliative ward.”
“You wanted something street,” his wife bitches at him. “So I found you something street.”
“Yes, Montreal street. Not pox-infested Calcuttan gutter!”
He turns up his nose, looks away and points at the door. The doctor lady walks us out. She gripes under her breath, offers a few mumbled apologies and fifty bucks as compensation. After we score from Benny the Bike Thief, Hennessy runs off to a sociology class at Concordia. The Housebroken Dog As Consumerist Metaphor in Late 20th Century Western Society.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

MOUNT ROYAL excerpt: Hockey and homo-erotic masochism

The novel is in its final editorial stages. Scary. No more last second changes. Time for her to get up and walk the walk. C'mon, baby, do daddy proud!

Below is an excerpt from my upcoming novel, Mount Royal.
Johnny, the protagonist, and close friend Slim are talking about the masochistic aspects of pre-1967 expansion era professional hockey, the horrific injuries suffered especially by goaltenders in order to earn what was then a meager living as the often semi-literate bonded serfs of the legitimized gangsters who controlled the game and the men who played it...

from the novel
Excerpt title: Hockey and homo-erotic masochism

Legendary pro hockey goaltender Terry Sawchuk
When a brain-squeezer migraine rousts me around noon, Slim has a tall glass of cool water ready, along with four aspirins. I down it all and she trades me the empty glass for a cup of coffee.
After the beer tent boondoggle last night, Al went home and I returned to the Balmoral. A couple hours later Slim recognized my boots under a stall door in the men’s room. She said she’d called out my name and when I didn’t answer, climbed over. After dragging me back to my place, she’d held my forehead as I threw up then put us both to bed.
She's even returned this morning’s pager calls, letting me get some badly needed shut-eye by telling my clientele there's nothing around right now and I'll get back to them this afternoon, once inventory is re-stocked. I feel a bit guilty letting people go sick but what the fuck. They won't have to wait all that long and exercising one’s patience does build character. Her ministrations complete, Slim shows me an old yellowed paperback. Hockey Is A Battle: The Autobiography of Punch Imlach. Hennessy had bought it for my birthday at the Sally Ann on Saint-Antoine.
“You and your hockey hang up,” she says, studying the cover. “I was reading some of it while you were asleep. This Imlauck guy was a real jerk.”
“It’s pronounced Im-lack and of course he was a jerk,” I defend the legendary Maple Leafs coach. “He had to be. Players then could handle it. Not like the pansies today.”
“If they’re such pansies, why are you so fascinated by them?”
“I don’t love these new guys with their steroids and gay haircuts. What they do is interesting because of the whole S/M, B&D homoerotic element in contact sports but, really, I like the pre-expansion old timers. The guys who made shit money and played hockey cuz they couldn’t do anything else. Y’know, the sort of guys who looked enviously at a plumber or electrician, somebody with a real trade.”
“Okay, so one of those working class tragedies you’re always crying about.”
“I’m not always ‘crying’ about them.”
Slim closes the book and gives me her undivided attention. It’s patronizing but I can live with the way she does it. “All right, Johnny. Go ahead and tell me.”
I sit up and face her to better describe the thing. “Terry Sawchuk is a classic example. He was a brilliant goalie but had a wicked ulcer, like all goalies back then. Who wouldn’t? None of them wore a mask, mostly because it was considered effete. All they had on were some joke pads to protect against these maniacs firing frozen pucks at their heads. Sawchuk and the other goalies, they were always one shot away from death or disfigurement or being left a vegetable. So, him and a drinking buddy of his, a forward called Ronnie Stewart… or maybe he was a defenseman… Anyway, they both played for the New York Rangers at the time. In those days, players  made like eighteen dollars a week and sent most of the money back to their wives and seven kids or whatever. Basically, they were bums on skates. I mean, they lived in fucking roominghouses!”
“Just get on with the story.”
“Okay. So Sawchuk and this other guy, they didn’t want to waste their cash in a bar so they’d buy a bottle of some rotgut and get drunk out on the street. The two of them were boozing in Bryant Park. Y’know, on 34th, behind the Museum of Natural History.”
“Byrant Park’s behind  the main library.”
“Yeah  – one of those massive Gotham buildings. Anyway, they start to play-fight and roll around - but pretty hardcore. Remember, these are tough, semi-literate bonehead hockey players. Stewart accidentally boots Sawchuk in the guts while they’re grappling. That bursts his ulcer and smashes up his liver and long story short, it ends up killing Sawchuk. And he holds the record for the most career shutouts in NHL history. Nobody’s even close and the fucking guy died with nothing, a drunk in some park!”
Slim’s not moved. “They sound like clich├ęd losers.”
“Yeah… I guess… Dream comes true for small town hoser who gets used and abused by cigar chomping boss archetype. A few years later the player is tossed onto the scrap heap.”
“This obsession of yours, Johnny, it seems kind of regressive.”
“Yeah, I know. Listen, do you think continental European guys are lousy lays?”
She rubs her eyes, running out of patience. “What’s that got to do with Sawcheck and his friend?”
“It’s Saw-chuk – and it’s got nothing to do with him or Ronnie Stewart. It’s this anti-rock’n’roll theory Al and I were talking about last night at that stupid beer tent festival. Don’t you remember? I’ve told you about it before.”
“Yeah, I suppose…”
“Anyway,  the basic idea is that because continental European guys don’t get rock’n’roll and since Nazis were continental Euros and fascism is a Euro concept, that would naturally mean, y’know, they don’t get irony, which means they can’t really rock’n’roll, and that makes them useless lays because a rockin’ and a rollin’ is really just another word for fucking.”
Slim’s had about enough. “Johnny… please.”
“No, I mean it. Seriously, I’m asking what you think.”
Cheeks puffing out, she goes mock cross-eyed for a sec then forces herself to consider the notion. “Um, all right… uh… yeah, I’ve screwed some European guys while I’ve been over there, and some I met here...”
“I don’t mean UK guys, they’re not really European.”
“I dunno… as a group they’re not much different than guys anywhere. We’re talking straight hetero guys, right?”
“Yeah yeah, of course, strictly hetero.”
“Well, most strictly hetero men are pretty mediocre as it is. I mean, some of them are nice people  – or do you mean just their sexual technique?”
“No, not only technique. Anybody can learn that, more or less. I guess whether they get the whole kind of complex structure built around what’s basically attempted procreation. Y’know, the weird irony of there being so much devoted to it - your own energy, the world’s. But it’s not about having children. It’s about identity, libido, ego, fuck, who knows, lots of shit that has zero to do with procreating and in fact, that’s considered a negative result almost all the time.”
“Well, you’ll never wrap it all up in a one-liner. I guess that’s why sex and death are endless subjects and people never gets tired of them.”
I’m not too satisfied with this outcome. “Yeah… maybe…”
“Sorry to poke a hole in your hypothesis, darling.”
I put on a mad professor shtick with a cartoon German accent. “Ha! Zey laughed at me in Prague!”
 Slim smiles with something bordering on fondness. She runs her fingers through my hair. “It’s nice you woke up in such a good mood.” The phone rings. We both groan.

Road hockey: Saint-Henri, Montreal, spring 1990
Doing my Terry Sawchuk impersonation

photo: Dee Lafontaine