Recent Journal Entries

All the salient details

Hello. Here’s something new from the land of the “sorbets” to you…I may keep going…

All the salient details

* * *

Wynne and her husband – it must be her husband – are sitting across the bar, against the windows. They are physically close together, and yet, to Remy, they seem disjointed. He does not trust his perception but he accepts it nonetheless. Behind them, there are elms with lights wrapped beautifully around their trunks and these trees stretch down the boulevard toward the sea. Remy watches Wynne. He has not seen her for at least twenty years, and yet, he knew her instantly when he saw her face in the mirror above the long bar. His brain did not recognize her but his heart did.

He turns around and looks directly at her. Her hair is darker, and her face is more defined. She’s wearing glasses and he can’t recall if this was a normal thing for her. It doesn’t matter. She is the memory of a memory now, a harmless ghost. The idea of her used to be attached to his heart. She sees Remy and her face moves from surprised, to joyful, to panicky in a few seconds. Remy nods and turns his back to her. He is a problem for her. It is her husband in the chair beside her, his face bent toward his phone, and Remy is still a sore spot, after all this time. He does not remember making love to this woman – he only remembers they made love, a lot. The details of scent, and touch, and sound, are lost. It’s as if they went out for dinner to an incredible restaurant – it was an amazing experience but they do not remember the details of the meal – they don’t recall the conversation, what the salad was, nor the appetizer, the entrée, the desert, nor the wine. The salient details disappear, slowly, until only a few pale, descriptive words are left.

A few years back, Remy realized it was ridiculous to hang onto this illusion of happy, because it wasn’t happy – it was the craziness of in-love, and lust and desire, and it was utterly unbridled. For years he’d been holding on to the idea of something that was lost. He wishes he could remember her eyes, the curve just above her hip, her fingers – anything tactile. When he thought about her, he could rustle up a name and a vague, wistful memory of something pure.

But just now, after two gin and tonics, the reflected image of Wynne Paden cut through the years. His heart is pounding as he orders another drink. He half-watches her in the mirror as she chats with her husband, who never takes his eyes from the screen of his phone.

Wynne stands and rifles around in her bag. She finds what she’s looking for and leaves her husband in the wing-backed chair against the window. Who wears turtlenecks anymore? Remy’s Uncle Jim, who was 97 years old. That’s who. And, apparently, Wynne’s husband. The husband does not glance up to see her move across the room but Remy watches her. He remembers her gait. It was a musical lope – syncopated jazz. The years have smoothed away the rough edges of it but it is still there even though she is performing it in high heels, across a tiled floor, in a darkened room – and she knows he’s watching.

It wasn’t love, Remy tells himself. It was a deep recognition of other, and lust. But maybe that’s love. The bartender, a slender blond named Deana – her name tag is crooked on her blouse – whisks the empty glass away with one hand and places his drink in front of him with the other. But she doesn’t move away. “People die for love all the time,” she says.

“What?”

“Love,” she says. “It’s that powerful.”

“That is an astoundingly random thing to say.”

“Really? That woman who just walked across the room – the one you could not take your eyes off – the one you love, or loved, or want to love. There’s a story there. She’s a story.”

Remy looks hard at the bartender. Does he still love Wynne? This bartender saw something going on. Maybe she witnessed the echo of love.

“I have a therapist,” Remy says.

She looks at him like he’s said something too cute for words. “Good, I’m happy for you. I have a master’s degree in psychology. And an undergraduate degree in anthropology and I know love when I see it.”

“I never said you were wrong.” He stops. “Hey, that’s a lot of education for a bartender.”

“I get that a lot,” she says. “Most people think love is an emotion. I don’t think it is. I think it’s an urge and we’re driven by it. It arises from the machinery of reproducing.”

“Why are you telling me this?”

“Because tomorrow we could be dead. Well, you – you could be dead. I’m going to live forever.”

“You’re going to live forever?”

“Yes. I’m only thirty-two and I don’t think about death – ever.”

“And so if you don’t think about it, it won’t happen?”

“I was riffing on Carpe Diem, you know? Why are we talking about death, anyway?”

“You’re the one who killed me off.”

She smiles, and for a few seconds, Remy forgets about Wynne. The bartender’s smile is a promise to hold a lover through the night – it’s a promise to keep whatever salacious secrets may come, whatever difficulties, and whatever joys. There’s something honourable and kind in her smile that Remy finds attractive.

“Yes. I did kill you off. Sorry about that.”

The man at the end of the bar leans forward and peers sideways down the bar. “Um, bartender? Could I get another double rum and coke?”

“Yup,” Deana says. “Coming right up.” But she doesn’t move, as if she’s waiting for Remy to say something. She picks up a rag and starts to wipe the bar in front of him. Small, precise circles.

The guy down at the end of the bar – “Ah, Miss? My drink?”

“Did he just call me Miss?”

“Yes, he did. I think someone is very thirsty.”

“Double rum and Coke,” she says. “Coming right up.”

Still, she stands there smiling at Remy, as if she is amused.

“How long have you been bartending?” While Remy is enjoying the attention she’s giving him, he wonders about her grasp of the idea of customer service.

“A long time,” she says. “Years, actually.

“Yo, Miss? Will that drink be coming any time today?”

The guy is wearing a ball cap with a straight, flat brim like some sort of wanna-be gangsta rapper. He talks cocky. His tone is cocky. Remy doesn’t like him.

“Do you think you should…”

“…It’s his third double in twenty minutes. He can wait. I’m curious. Why are you here?”

“Here at this bar? Here in Zurich? Or here by chance?”

“Which one do you think is more important?”

“Right now, I’d have to say chance. A thousand per cent chance.”

“So, how is it that you wound up – by chance – sitting here in my bar tonight?”

“I’m working a case, a negotiation for a client.”

“So, just visiting?”

“A long visit.”

“Hey, can I get a drink here, or not.” The kid is fuming.

Deana walks down the length of the bar and stands in front of him.

“Not,” she says softly. “Time to go.”

“Who’s your manager?” the kid says. “I want to talk to your manager.”

“Go ahead.”

“You’re the manager?”

Deana doesn’t say anything.

“Let me talk to the owner. I want to file a complaint.”

“Go ahead,” she says. “I’m listening.”

“Oh,” he says. “So am I going to get my fucking drink or what?” His words are slurred into a sloppy mush.

“Time for you to leave.”

“Fuck you,” he says. “Fucking bitch. I don’t know what kind of a bar you’re running here.” He tosses a wad of Swiss Francs onto the bar and pushes back. “You have no idea who I am. You will regret this.”

A big man with a tidy beard comes up behind the kid and just stands there. Remy notices the bearded man really makes the kid appear to be a petulant child who has yet to grow pubic hair. The kid looks at the bearded man and nods his understanding. Deana nods at the bearded man and he follows the kid out.

The crazy time

Hello. I’ve been working on a new book. I know what you’re thinking…_He should have dropped in occasionally, even just to say hello_. Sorry about that. I know I have been negligent. I’ll try to drop in more often.

Oh, oh, oh, if authors could design their own covers…What a world it would be! This is my take on a design. I am no designer but this is something I do to help myself envision the book in the world. It’s part of my process. Yes, that’s right, the giraffe is upside-down. The world is upside-down.

cover

Here is a word-picture of the inside of my head right now. I am in the crazy time of having just finished a book, and not knowing what I want to do, what I should do, or which way I should turn. Offers of drinks, love-making, bowling, and other shenanigans gladly entertained.

Imagine this exercise #452

Imagine this: You finish your book, which is filled with lies and mendacity, and hit send. The novel travels across the country, as if by magic, instantly, and suddenly to your agent, who says “Hooray” and “thank you very much.” There is a giraffe in this book. It appears in the story of a story, and in a dream, and you imagine it is a female giraffe. This morning, it is standing in your bedroom, legs splayed and neck bent – and funnily, you are not surprised – you blink your eyes fully open, adjust the pillows and lean back against the headboard. You smile at it. You assume the giraffe is hungry but you do not know what giraffes eat – you try to remember if there’s any lettuce in the fridge, or celery – you’re pretty sure there’s a bundle of cilantro. It’s snowing. The giraffe turns its massive head and looks out the window at the falling snow, as if it has never seen snow before. The giraffe in your novel is a symbol of lost love, or the threat of lost love. You wonder if any of your love is lost. You wonder if there is a particular place to look for lost love. And how would one know if their love was lost? Are there telltale signs that love is about become lost?

“Are you lost?” you say to the giraffe. But of course the giraffe is lost. It’s a long bloody way from Africa to here, and here, in this high-plains city, it is snowing. You look out the window and can see the snow is moving the wrong way – it is rising up from the ground, as if gravity is no longer a factor. The neighbour’s barbecue floats past your window – it’s a really swanky Weber and you hope it lands in your yard – if it lands. You have an impulse to say “hello” and then the phone rings. “Hello,” you say. The phone on the end-table starts to ring.

It dawns on you that you might be dreaming. The giraffe is still there in the corner and the snow is still rising off the ground. You are in a dream and you know you’re dreaming. You try to remember what you ate last night. The giraffe sways its long neck across the bed and moves close to your face. It sticks out its tongue and licks your face.

You wake up and look up at your wife’s face. She kisses you every morning like this, without fail. It is her touchstone, a sign that her love is intact. “Thank you,” you say. “Good morning,” she says. When she is gone, you sit up and look out the window. The sky is a deep grey. The corner of the bedroom is giraffe free but you can’t be sure you’re not dreaming. You take a deep breath and decide it doesn’t matter.

galloping pell-mell back to the dark ages

Sometimes you will be watching a television show and the writing will rise above expectation. A TV show will push boundaries. It was ask the hard questions and go to the thin places. Or, as is the case with The Blacklist, a lone character will shine. Raymond “Red” Reddington, played by James Spader, is such a character. Sadly, the rest of the cast, and the episodic and formulaic writing makes the show itself a bit of an odd duck. But Spader’s Reddington? Amazing! Complex, and flawed, and charming, this character saves a series that would never have made it beyond the first half season without him. Now, he is the main character, the show revolves around him, so this may be unfair. But the acting form the rest of the cast is less than interesting, nor is it believable. This Reddington character, threatens reality every time he’s on the screen. Spader has become a bit of a star in this show — a far better actor than the young Spader, who was mostly just creepy.

My favourtite line from an episode a few weeks ago, and after Paris, fundamentally appropriate:

“Honestly, is it just me, or is the human race, armed with religion, poisoned by prejudice, and absolutely frantic with hatred and fear, galloping pell-mell back to the dark ages?”

Progress report in snow...

Hello. As I write this, it’s snowing. Tonight I passed the 65K mark on the new, new book. Damn I love it…I listened to Bob Chelmick tonight on CKUA. Damn it was a great show…I love the snow. There’s a character in the new, new book who loves the snow too…her name is Tulah. She keeps a snow journal, a log of snow. I take this snow tonight as a blessing on the new, new book. Why not? Why do I keep calling the new, new book the new, new book? Because there is a new book too…so, “Seven Moments”, and “This is all a lie”. SM is complete. This is all a lie is close. I’ll keep you posted. Well, I probably won’t. I’m writing and this is a rare glimpse of my progress.

It’s snowing and I am happy.

More later…

Now

Working on new projects. Writing at the end of summer. Writing into the beginning of fall.

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Welcome

Thomas

Thomas Trofimuk is a Canadian novelist, poet, and musician based in Edmonton, Alberta. He's the author of Doubting Yourself to the Bone, and his most recent novel, Waiting for Columbus. More.

Below, are the paperback covers for the UK, the Canadian, and US editions.

Waiting for Columbus

Columbus Cover (UK) Columbus Cover (Canada)

Waiting for Columbus (McClelland & Stewart / Knopf-Doubleday / Picador / and Blackstone Audiobooks) was released in Canada and the US in 2009 and in the UK in 2010. Read reviews and more about the book here.

Columbus Cover (United States)

UPCOMING EVENTS


"Waiting for Columbus" is featured as part of the WILDLY popular RICHARD AND JUDY book club in the UK!!!
Waiting for Columbus is featured on the WH Smith website here. And here is the awesome video!

SPEAKING ENGAGEMENTS
TBA

BOOK CLUBS
TBA

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS for "Waiting for Columbus"
A few suggested discussion questions for "Waiting for Columbus are here. An interview with Trofimuk that might also spark some discussion is here. Enjoy....

Key Dates for Waiting for Columbus

The paperbacks are here! The paperbacks are here!!! Canadian, US and UK paperbacks of Waiting for Columbus are on the shelves!!

Release date Brazil:
Pending

Release date Poland:
Pending



“…And therein lies the best career advice I could possibly dispense: just DO things. Chase after the things that interest you and make you happy. Stop acting like you have a set path, because you don’t. No one does. You shouldn’t be trying to check off the boxes of life; they aren’t real and they were created by other people, not you. There is no explicit path I’m following, and I’m not walking in anyone else’s footsteps. I’m making it up as I go.
It’s harder, for sure, and kind of scary sometimes. But it will allow you to look at yourself in the mirror and know you’re playing by your own rules…”

-- Charlie Hoehn

“coffee should be black as hell, strong as death and sweet as love...”
~ Turkish proverb


 

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