World Body by Clark BlaiseWorld Body by Clark Blaise

World Body

byClark Blaise

Paperback | June 1, 2006

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Clark Blaise is more than just a local colourist who ferrets out the curious details of `marginal' communities in order to delight cosmopolitan readers. Rather, if we consider the full arc of his work, we see that for nearly fifty years he has been challenging the way that we understand the concept of place in contemporary Canadian and American literature.

Clark Blaise has taught in Montreal, Toronto, Saskatchewan and British Columbia, as well as at Skidmore College, Columbia University, Iowa, NYU, Sarah Lawrence and Emory. For several years he directed the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa. Among the most widely travelled of authors, he has taught or lectured in Ja...
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Title:World BodyFormat:PaperbackDimensions:216 pages, 8.77 × 5.61 × 0.74 inPublished:June 1, 2006Publisher:Porcupine's QuillLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0889842841

ISBN - 13:9780889842847

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Reviews

From the Author

In story collections, context is all. Many of these stories have appeared in earlier books (notably, If I Were Me and Man and His World), but here they stand alone, bouncing off each other in a revised sequence, a different display.Fate, family and marriage have conspired to make me into a hydroponic writer: rootless, unhoused, fed by swirling waters and harsh, artificial light. In Canadian terms, a classic un-Munro. A Manitoba mother and a Quebec father, an American and Canadian life split more or less equally, can do that to an inquisitive and absorptive child. I never lived longer than six months anywhere, until my four-year Pittsburgh adolescence and fourteen years of Montreal teaching. As a consequence, when I was a young writer, I thought that making sense of my American and Canadian experience would absorb my interest for the rest of my life.But a five-minute wedding ceremony in a lawyer's office in Iowa City forty-two years ago delivered that inquisitive child an even larger world than the North American continent. I married India, a beautiful and complicated world, and that Canadian/American, French/English, Northern/Southern boy slowly disappeared. (I wonder what he would have been like, had the larger world never intervened). The stories in World Body (Volume 4 of New and Selected Stories) reflect a few of those non-North American experiences. I now live in California, but my California, strangely, presents itself through Indian eyes.

Read from the Book

The first time I met Clark Blaise was in September 1984. He happened to be the host of a party in Iowa City. The house and the garden were packed with bizarre people, beer and wine flowed freely and there was the sweet music of chatter and laughter. Quite a number of the guests had walked over here from a rather unremarkable concrete high-rise building of the University, which, however, bore the wonderful, resonant name `Mayflower'. It was there, in a long corridor on the eighth floor, that a community of international writers happened to reside. About forty individuals had been invited for a period of three months. And here we were, in infinite celebration and dialogue: playwrights, poets, novelists, essayists and translators from all corners of the world, guests of the International Writing Program, invited by the legendary Iowan and citizen of the world, Paul Engle, and his Chinese wife, the writer Hualing Nieh. The crowd of celebrants in the house and in the garden of the writer couple Blaise and Mukherjee was made complete by an equally high-spirited group of students from the University of Iowa's famous Writers' Workshop, which in the past had been attended by aspiring writers such as Tennessee Williams, Kurt Vonnegut and Raymond Carver, as well as a young writer by the name of Clark Blaise. It was here that he met a fellow student from India, Bharati Mukherjee.... It was a party on Noah's Ark, so to speak, with remarkable couples: the writer from Taiwan talking to the one from the People's Republic of China (or as they used to say in America in those days, `Mainland China'). There was the novelist from Israel and the short story writer from Palestine, my colleague and fellow countryman from the other side of the Berlin Wall and myself, the `Westerner'. Constellations such as these require a special place, and here in this house and this garden there was such a place -- radiating openness to the world, colourful diversity and curiosity. I have to mention, by the way, it was at this party that I first laid my eyes on my future wife and co-founder of our family, the poet Sujata Bhatt, then a student, who unfortunately, at least at that stage, showed little or no response to my longing gazes. Like my host's wife, she happens to be originally from India. Fate or coincidence? (A blessing, I tell you.) During numerous visits to the United States, some long, some short, I have realized that there are some unwritten laws of small talk. It may well happen, for example, that a host asks countless questions of a guest without actually caring about the answers. Indeed, it may even be impolite to give a proper, extensive answer to a very personal question. It didn't take me long, however, to notice that this rule by no means applied in the house of Blaise. Here was a host showing genuine interest in his guests, a polyglot contemporary who elegantly stood his ground in this multilingual confusion of tongues. He too, a constant traveller, a researcher, an investigator, someone making proper use of his eyes and ears -- ein Augen- und-Ohrenmensch, as we say in German, someone who cannot get enough of the visible and invisible secrets of the world. It's no surprise that almost a decade later, this man became the successor to Paul Engle as the director of the International Writing Program. Reading the short stories collected in this volume, I cannot help thinking of that first encounter in Iowa City, of the international writer Clark Blaise, who is more than just a sharp observer of North American realities and states of mind. Dear God, how must these permanent repetitive questions get on his nerves: whether he defines himself as a U.S. citizen or as a Canadian citizen. Let the U.S. critics claim him for their country and likewise the Canadians. But please, let me raise my hand and claim his services for the rest of the world! Yes, ladies and gentlemen, there is life beyond your borders. Brilliant how Clark Blaise (or rather Gerald Lander, his Faustian hero and anti-hero) shaken by mid-life crisis, moves about in that part of the world which I myself know best, which has fascinated me since my childhood, my family ground, which nonetheless, will always be full of riddles for me. With the stories `Kristallnacht', `Drawing Rooms' and `The Banality of Virtue', he places us right in the centre of the Baltic microcosm. The ice of the Communist paralysis has melted, the submerged bonds of the neighbouring countries which had developed over centuries are finally becoming recognizable again. But so are the scars, the wounds inflicted on the neighbours by German guilt. Immediately, Czeslaw Milosz comes to my mind, as well as Günter Grass, with his Danzig Trilogy, and his Polish colleague, Stefan Chwin. And naturally, I have to think of the poet, short story writer and novelist, Johan

Table of Contents

Introduction
Strangers in the Night
Salad Days
A Saint
Kristallnacht
Drawing Rooms
The Banality of Virtue
White Children
Doggystan
Dark Matter
Migraine Morning
Yahrzeit
Meditations on Starch
Did, Had, Was
Sweetness and Light
Man and His World
Dear Abhi
The Sociology of Love
Partial Renovations
Afterword

Editorial Reviews

?Those who have read Blaise will likely be familiar with his non-fiction bestseller Time Lord, not the four volumes of his Collected Stories that have sold somewhere in the low hundreds. Though he became a member of the Order of Canada in 2009, Blaise has never won a GG. And yet his body of work ? and one can speak of it as a coherent body ? is an entertaining and profound monument to the craft of the short story.?