8 X 10 by Michael Turner8 X 10 by Michael Turner

8 X 10

byMichael Turner

Hardcover | March 10, 2016

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Shockingly original and intensely intelligent, 8 × 10 is a series of snapshots of a world torn apart by war and migration.

Fearless in form, Michael Turner’s 8 × 10 casts aside traditional narrative structure and characterization to delve deeper into the issues gnawing at today’s global society. Through a sequence of possibly intertwined events, Turner creates a challenging portrait of our modern age, drawing solely on the actions of people rather than their appearance — whether advertising executives or soldiers, tailors or doctors — they fall in love, have children, fight in wars, and flee their homes. In 8 × 10 there are no names, no racial or ethnic characteristics, and only a vague sense of time. Turner’s characters, familiar yet implacable, are both no one and everyone.
Michael Turner’s first book, Company Town, was nominated for the 1992 Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize. His second book, Hard Core Logo, was made into an acclaimed feature film for which he received a Genie Award for his contribution to the movie’s soundtrack. His screenplay-cum-novel, American Whiskey Bar, was produced as a live televisio...
Title:8 X 10Format:HardcoverDimensions:176 pages, 8.51 × 5.73 × 0.76 inPublished:March 10, 2016Publisher:Doubleday CanadaLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0385665938

ISBN - 13:9780385665933

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Rated 2 out of 5 by from 2.5 stars, more accurately Odd snapshots into the lives of unknown characters from unknown parts of the world, often dealing with war or post-war time issues. Sometimes overlapping, many stories share similar imagery and/or characters, as obviously evidenced by the 'seven tree lined ridges' mentioned in multiple vignettes. I will not pretend to have understood most of what I was reading, but will admit that it all might have just been over my feeble-minded head. This would not be the first book of short stories that left me perplexed and feeling inept. In any case, I think that another reading would be in order to piece together this puzzle and possibly have a better understanding for what it is Michael Turner has done. www.booksnakereviews.blogspot.com
Date published: 2010-03-26

Read from the Book

1By the time he was sixteen his thighs had become so developed from speed skating his father had to make his trousers for him. These were the days when trousers were pants, made of denim or twill. Fashionable pants fit tight at the waist and loose below the knee, where they flared like muskets, swallowing the clogs that were also in fashion.The pants were called bell-bottoms, and they were made by the newer companies, the most popular brand having an explosion on the right back pocket. Older companies remained competitive, but they serviced the uniforms of bikers and greaseballs–those who preferred their legs straight, their pants jeans.With money saved from his paper route, he purchased a denim pair, asking that they be let out here, he pointed, and here, too, Dad.His father bundled up the denims and left for work.That evening, while preparing supper, something caught his eye. His first thought was to collapse, curl up in a ball, like he did as a kid when his father came at him.He turned to find his father hovering in the hallway. His father had been doing that a lot lately–hovering–and it was beginning to get on his nerves.Hey, Dad.His father stepped forward, unfurled the denims.He did his best to look thankful. His father had taken material from the bottom of the legs and reapplied it to the tops, thus defeating the purpose of bell-bottoms.The next time he bought bell-bottoms he took them apart himself. Using newspaper, he made a pattern, then added the inches needed.Again he showed his father, and again his father left for work. Only this time, instead of alterations, his father returned with a modified version of the template: stovepipes, not bell-bottoms.As before, he did his best to look thankful.He knew his father was frustrated, so he asked if he could help. Together they would make his pants.His father nodded.By day’s end, both men were satisfied. The only things missing were the pockets.His father picked up some scraps and began cutting.Let’s just use the store-boughts, Dad.His father eyed the store-boughts, the one with the explosion.I mean, why waste the material?Why waste the scraps? his father shot back, grabbing the pockets and pinning them to the seat of his pants.A few months later his father made a new pair, recycling the pockets from the last ones, now faded. The reproach was not lost on him.That summer he gave up speed skating. By winter his legs had returned to normal. Bell-bottoms by then were passé.His father continued to make his trousers. Not denims but wool dress pants, the kind he wore to work, like everybody else.2She hated the city. Hated everything about it. The people, the buildings. Everything.It had been ages since she spoke to someone. That kid with the dog, its head the size of a boulder.Spare some change, ma’am?Fuck off.She would have slapped him if not for that dog.She spent her days at the kitchen table, a co-operative building just east of the downtown core. She drank tea, read the paper, wrote poems in the margins. Children ran past, screaming, grabbing what they could off the counter. Not even hers! No idea whose.(Hers had grown. But they were not hers either. Not really. Not legally. Plucked from her breast the day they were born.)She pined for the north. The mountains, the forests, the slow, winding rivers. And the old plank store, where everything hung from the ceiling. Point and they would take it down for you, wrap it up nice in brown paper.She bought her mother’s housecoat there. White flannel, with red and yellow roses. Her best day ever was walking home with that bundle under her arm, the snow in the mountains, the afternoon sun igniting its peaks.Pink tits, she wrote. And the sky behind it/ a light blue shirt.It was marriage that brought her here, a marriage that lasted just long enough to disqualify annulment. Nine months is too many, said one expert. Think of the child, said another.She shut her eyes, let her pen drop.And the sky behind it/ a faded denim shirt.It had been wartime. The northern landscape was changing. Forests were being razed, fences unspooled, roads imposed. Even the newspaper looked different: the type was larger, and every day more pictures than words. She noticed these things. Then the soldiers.They started showing up at dances. Always a big commotion, people rushing to the windows, the bus that brought them as clean and shiny as they were.She did not care for them at first. (Nobody cared for the soldiers, least of all the men.) But one stood out, and he pursued her, convinced her she was different.(That appealed to her–being different. All her life she had been told she was beautiful. But how beautiful? And to whom?)He was by far the most handsome man she had ever seen. And it startled her, her feelings for him. So she left the dance hall early, walking home with the woman who sold pie.For the next six days he was all she could think about. The width of his shoulders, his long, wavy hair. When she saw him again, he offered her his arm. Without thinking, she took it.He was a good dancer. Graceful as a river/ solid as the oaks that lined its shore. After their second dance he asked if she would join him outside for some air.Until then she had only kissed two boys. The first a stiff peck, more innocent than clumsy, a cousin. A year later, the cousin’s friend, someone she met on a hike. The pack out of sight, he lunged at her, his tongue splashing in her mouth like an eel. Unbearable.But the soldier’s kiss, his was like the ocean fish swim in–rolling, flowing, abundant. She could feel herself sinking, taking on water. She reached for his shoulders, pulling him towards her, her feet off the ground, dangling.The last time they met he was waiting for her behind the hall. They had decided to skip the dance and walk to the river, together.She had been rehearsing the moment for weeks. Everything–every move, every breath–had been imagined. He would tell her he loved her, and that he wanted to be with her, forever. She would take the pendant from her neck, the one her mother gave her, and drop it over her shoulder. Then, taking his hand in hers, place it on her breast. He would kiss her first, before squeezing.Which he did.How she ended up over that rock is a mystery, a consequence, she later wrote, of a poor imagination. Not a bad feeling, but not a comforting one either. For it is the sequence that baffles. His lips where his hand had been, his hand in new places. Then hers detaching, turning animal. How he took it, wrestled it, pressed himself against it.She opened her eyes, squeezing.A flashlight to someone who had only known matches.But there was no penetration.When he came, the volume was so great she thought for sure she was pregnant.But how? There was no/ penetration.The next day he shipped out.

Editorial Reviews

"A hallucinogenic read, and not just because descriptions of drug use abound. The language is clear and precise, and the bits of plot move fast to crescendos and bursts of conflict. . . . Reading 8 x 10 is sort of like standing on a rooftop with the most precise camera in the world, zooming in on moments in people's lives where you are momentarily allowed access to their inner thoughts, and then moving along to the next person. . . . I hope Turner starts a trend in Canadian literature, because Canada needs more writers like him." — Zoe Whittall, The Globe and Mail