16. October 2014

Chapter 5 – The Sphinx and the Riddle

Lydia makes her first attempt to get her hands on her mentor’s literary estate. She appears at the widow’s door, and although the widow is cooperative, together they confront a technical problem: they don’t know the password to Barney’s computer. It’s like a sphinx guarding its secret with a riddle they can’t answer. After countless failures, Lydia takes the computer’s hard drive to a tech shop. Despite guaranteed results, disaster strikes (an act of God?) and it seems that Barney’s unpublished writings may vanish forever. This is the 5th installment of the serialized novel, Life In The Margins. Learn more about the novel here.

Continue reading...

8. October 2014

Chapter 4 – Letters Probate

This is the 4th installment of the serialized novel, Life In The Margins. After meeting with his father, Jesse catches up with Lydia at a coffee shop. Together, they review the letter from the solicitor handling the late Barnabas Moynahan’s estate. The package includes a personal note from the deceased that raises questions about how he viewed his relationship to Lydia. Click here for more about the novel.

Continue reading...

1. October 2014

Chapter 3 – My Father’s House

“My Father’s House” is the third installment of the serialized novel, Life In The Margins. Jesse Winthrop, Sr. has summoned his son, Jesse Winthrop, Jr. to the family home for a chat about business etiquette. When Jesse, Jr. arrives, no one answers the door, so he enters through the window of his old bedroom. While helping himself to a carton of orange juice, a strange woman screams and tells him that she’s called the police. Jesse had no idea his father was seeing a woman. For her part, the woman had no idea her lover had a son. As police take Jesse, Jr. down in his childhood home, we witness the odd place he occupies, straddling races and cultures, simultaneously privileged and marginalized. Click here to learn more about Life In The Margins.

Continue reading...

24. September 2014

Chapter 2 – The Epistle of Lydia

In this, the second installment of Life In The Margins, Lydia Flanagan takes a letter to her boyfriend’s office. The letter informs her that she has been appointed executrix of her late mentor’s estate. She has no idea what that means and hopes she can get a legal explanation. While at the office, she meets her boyfriend’s associate, Ronald Green, who spends as much of his time crafting a Torah as he does practising law. While waiting for her boyfriend to show up, Mr. Green gives a “reading” of Lydia’s signature that makes her feel so uncomfortable she leaves. To learn more about Life In The Margins, click here. To read the previous chapter, click here.

Continue reading...

17. September 2014

Life In The Margins

Life In The Margins, by David Allan BarkerThis is the first installment of the serialized novel, Life In The Margins. Here, we have a short introduction and the first chapter. Look for a new chapter each Wednesday. All told, there are 40 chapters and some “interludes” along the way, so this will run for the better part of a year. Because the novel is large, I’ll publish it in two parts, each 20 chapters long. So what’s it all about? You can read more on the Life In The Margins page but, in a nutshell, it’s a larger-than-life postmodern tale of sex, murder, betrayal and … systematic theology. Yes, you read that right — systematic theology. If you’ve ever had a hankering to read about a shovel to the head on one page, and liberation theology on the next, then this is the novel for you. But be patient. There’s plenty of time for the murder, betrayal and systematic theology. First, let’s have some sex …

Continue reading...

15. August 2014

The Virgin’s Nose: 34 More Stories of Suburban Banality

The Virgin's Nose, by David Allan BarkerIf suburbia was a religion, The Virgin’s Nose would be its bible. Join us on a pilgrimage to the holy land of retirement homes, cul-de-sacs, backyard composters, beer fridges, neighbourhood grocery stores, big box outlets, online dating, reality TV, and dry cleaners. Along the way, we pay homage to the late David Foster Wallace when his novel, Infinite Jest, becomes a weapon in a brutal killing. An artist’s colonoscopy brings us face to face with a sublime wellspring of inspiration. A father contemplates life’s great mysteries when he discovers a severed finger in his vacuum cleaner. We learn of a secret aisle in Wal*Mart where you can pay less to … well … um live better? And we have the title piece, The Virgin’s Nose, where we travel to the Vatican to return a stolen relic. With 34 fresh stories, David Allan Barker’s second collection of short fiction continues a project he launched with Sex With Dead People – to seek out and share the most weirdly banal corners of this modern world we’ve made for ourselves. Download for free.

Continue reading...

28. July 2014

Introducing: http://davidbarker.photography

If you frequent these parts, you may have noticed that things have been quiet here at nouspique.com. Part of the reason for my neglect is that, when I heard that dot photography domain names had become available, I said to myself: I’ve gotta get me one of those. One thing led to another and before I knew it, I had a new web site on my hands. It’s http://davidbarker.photography — a space to feature my portfolio and to blog about my photo adventures. No, I haven’t abandoned nouspique.com. In fact, I have a couple projects that will soon be making an appearance here. In August, I’ll be launching a short story collection titled Cockroach Man. And in September, nouspique will become home to a serialized novel titled Life In The Margins with weekly posts that will run for a year. At first glance, it might seem a radical departure to blog words in one place and images in another, but I turn to Marshall McLuhan for guidance. He insisted that text is a visual medium. And so my new site is, in part, an experiment to test that theory, or at least to poke at the wreckage that happens when text collides with imagery.davidbarker.photography

Continue reading...

16. June 2014

The Gay World

The Underside of TorontoIn 1970, W.E. Mann edited a volume titled The Underside of Toronto (McClelland & Stewart), perhaps an early effort to dispel the Disneyfied image of Toronto the Good. In Part Four, titled “Deviant Behaviour and Deviant Groups”, he includes William Johnson’s “The Gay World”. The article had previously appeared in the Globe Magazine in 1968. The article opens with this claim: “Toronto, haven for hippies and draft dodgers, may be on its way to becoming the homosexual capital of North America.” Given that Toronto is hosting World Pride, which will soon be upon us, I thought it would be interesting to revisit The Gay World of Toronto almost 50 years ago.

Continue reading...

10. June 2014

Love-locks Wreck Ponts des Arts

pont des artsThe CBC reports that on Sunday evening a portion of the “Love-locks” bridge (Pont des Arts) in Paris collapsed. This is the pedestrian bridge that crosses the Seine connecting the Louvre museum to the St. Germain area. Lovers (locals? tourists? some of each? who knows?) have been inscribing their initials on locks and then fastening them to the sides of the bridge as a symbol of something-or-other. The weight of the locks has caused a portion of the bridge to buckle. Surely there is a metaphor in all of this.

Continue reading...

15. May 2014

Nine and a Half Weeks (Of Shopping)

Nine and A Half Weeks by Elizabeth McNeillElizabeth McNeill’s erotic memoir of a love affair is celebrated for the fact that it’s told from the submissive’s perspective in an SM relationship. The unnamed man slaps, cuffs, spanks, whips, beats, humiliates the narrator who leverages the pain to a heightened desire. At least that’s how the novella-length memoir is celebrated. My take on the book is that it has less to do with sex than with shopping.

Continue reading...

6. May 2014

Street Photography in Paris

La rue est une galerie d'art en plein air!Not long ago, I found myself standing on the curb of the Champs Élysées being an annoying tourist. I had a big honking camera (Canon Mark III) hanging from my neck which made me the opposite of inconspicuous, and I was doing what I always do when I have a big honking camera hanging from my neck. I was looking for a shot. Actually, I was looking for THE shot. In one of the most photographed places in the world, I was looking for something different. Something that would reflect my unique personal vision. Or … [stick your favourite cliché here _______ ]. Two big black cars pulled to the curb where I was standing. A professional-looking woman got out of the first car and went to the rear door of the second car which she opened while an older gentleman got out. Meanwhile, a handler got out of the first car and came around to my side where he stood in front of me. He looked like one of those computer generated goons from The Matrix who wears an earpiece and is itching to lecture you about how you’re not really human; you’re just a virus. The handler saw my camera and waved a finger at me: no, no, no. I smiled and nodded to indicate that I understood.

Continue reading...

29. April 2014

Anthropologist from Mars Studies Crucified Woman

Crucified Woman in Ice StormIn 1995, Oliver Sacks published a book titled An Anthropologist On Mars. It’s a collection of “case studies” about people with neurological disorders. The virtue of Sacks’s writing is that it’s accessible to the lay reader: he presents his subjects without technical jargon while preserving the important questions which their conditions raise. If there is a common theme to these questions, it might be: what does it mean to be human? The piece that gives the book its title first appeared on December 27, 1994 in the New Yorker. Sacks attributes the phrase of the title to its subject, Temple Grandin, an autistic (Asperger’s Syndrome) woman who is an expert on livestock management. She uses the phrase in her book, Thinking In Pictures: And Other Reports From My Life With Autism (1996) and it is repeated in Sacks’s introduction to the 2005 edition. However, so far as I’m aware, the phrase doesn’t appear in print before 1994, at least not from this particular quadrant of the planet.

Continue reading...

10. April 2014

Blogging and Andrew Keen’s Cult of the Amateur

The Cult of the AmateurWhen cultural commentary turns its gaze to online technologies, it grows dated in the blink of an eye. It’s like watching Joan Rivers and the accelerating pace of her plastic surgeries. The minute one thing gets tacked in place, something else droops. The author of the commentary either has to perform periodic updates to hold up the droopy arguments, or the author has to let go, knowing that their work will end up on a great garbage heap of theorizing and speculation which, if they’re lucky, will one day pique the curiosity of future anthropologists and historians. It’s seven years since Andrew Keen published The Cult of the Amateur and already I feel like such an anthropologist. How fast the world turns. He offered an update in 2008 with a forward and additional chapter, but, so far as I’m aware, there are no more updates; he’s moved on to other books.

Continue reading...

8. April 2014

Narcissism as a Strategy of Resistance

Obama_selfieThis morning, while staring at myself in the bathroom mirror, I had a thought about narcissism. I wanted to take a selfie to capture the moment but was concerned about what people (in this instance, my wife) would think of me. The last thing I want is for people to think I’m narcissistic. It’s important, you know, to, like, manage your public image. I’d hate for the media to get hold of a photo of me taking a photo of me in my skivvies staring at myself in the mirror, or, like, yukking it up at the funeral of a head of state.

Continue reading...

7. April 2014

Vets (animal, not military)

Kari the incontinent wonder dogI had to take my dog to the vet. I haven’t taken my dog to the vet in years. I’m afraid of vets. In the past, every time I took my dog to the vet, I emptied my wallet and went home feeling like an easy mark.

Continue reading...