Recent Journal Entries

New book is off...into the world

Well, here we are in late September. I am just back from the mountains. This morning, I sent a new book off to my agent. I am very pleased with this book. It is complex and quick and light (“light” in the sense of the things we try to avoid looking at, in the sense of all the things we value for their lightness – love and romance and connection and how they eventually reveal their true, unbearable weight). I hope it is engaging and clever enough for you. I know I have created something outside the pigeon holes of literary definition – which is perhaps unwise, but we must write for ourselves first – we must write the book we would love to read, first. I would love for a new novel, somewhere down the road, to consist of a review of an imagined book by a foreign author, written in a different language – so I would write the review of the book, which I’ve only imagined. Borges ran screaming with glee into this form in the 1930s with his short experiment, “The Approach to Al-Mu’tasim,” which was in fact written in accordance with the above formula. The question is, can this formula work for a novel?

So, how does it feel to let go of a novel you’ve been working on for a year? It feels like loss. A part of me is gone. A hole has opened up. “The safety of a manuscript in progress is like none other,” Leah said.

It is safety, but also comfort. I feel uncomfortable. So, Seven moments of mercy is off. It could just as well be called: Purgatory or The seven purgatories of Katerina Miller. The great titles only come after the book is sent away and time has worked its magic. I’ll let you know what happens, as it happens.

August. August. August.

Hello. Long-time no talk. I’ve been working on the new book and having a holiday. The new book is shifting into place. It’s been an extensive re-write. And there is life. Life pops up and whacks ya when you don’t expect…So I have been practicing tonglen. And sitting zazen. And I read a most extraordinary book – a conversation between Jeff Bridges and Bernie Glassman called “The Dude and the Zen Master.” I’m going to re-read it and probably look for some more books by Bernie Glassman. Books don’t make you a master of Zen, but it resonates so well with me.

Here is a failed story for you:

meditating Modigliani woman

“I’m going to meditate,” she says. “Don’t bug me.”

The man will not bug her. Clara is wearing four-inch heels – nothing else. She meditates like this all the time. Across the room, she settles on the floor beside the window in a spot of sunlight. She presses her buttocks into the floor, makes a connection. She crosses her legs, shoes tucked under thighs, the dark swatch of her pubis rising up from the floor. She moves her hands to her knees, palms up, and she closes her eyes.

The light in the room is blue and kind. A breeze flutters the curtains. The man places his hand on the doorknob and turns it carefully. He looks at her again. Her face, her hair, her breasts are from a Modigliani painting. The floor is Renoir. The maple out the window is all van Gogh.

Good bye, he thinks. I’ll miss this.

(This is me in Nelson, at The All Seasons Cafe, which is a stunning, freaking brilliant restaurant


Blue mug and Youthwrite contest

Hello. It’s Friday, June 13. And a full moon! There is a writing camp that is near and dear to my heart, called Youthwrite, and it is running a contest I want to being to your attention: Go to!/pages/YouthWrite/159621277384669/ for contest info on Facebook or here: for general info on the camps.

But it is basically open to young writers aged 11-15, who must produce an original short story in 120 characters or less (so, the size of a Tweet). I do not qualify but…here’s my stab:

“Now, Ruth considered the kitchen floor a sensible place to kiss. It was safer than the bedroom. The bedroom was a monkey cart of trouble.”

So, if you know any kids (in Alberta) that might be into reading/writing/playing with words…this camp is amazing, and this opportunity is pretty cool.

Also, because it’s Friday and beautiful out, here is a picture on my new mug (small things make me happy and this is one).

blue mug

Youthwrite and happiness

Hello. It’s Wednesday, May 21, 2014. Wanted to send a shout-out to a Thursday night event happening here in Edmonton. It’s a Youthwrite fundraiser, and a book launch for Gail Sobat and Spyder Yardley Jones’ new book – Jamie’s Got a Gun. It’s at the Roxy Theatre on 124 street at 7 p.m, Thursday, May 22nd. It’s free to get in. There’s a silent auction. There’s a performance by Joy Spring Jazz Ensemble and Le Fuzz. Hell of a way to start the weekend!!! I am co-hosting this event with the lovely Connie Massing…so come if you can, you Edmontonians.

Had an interesting conversation the other day about books…and my books in particular. I was talking about the new one – Seven Moments of Mercy – well, talking about it without talking about it.

“It’s so dark,” I said. “I don’t know what’s wrong with me.”

“When was the last time you read a happy book?” my wife said. “Name a happy book you’ve read.”

Of course, I couldn’t. I don’t read happy books. Do you know any happy books? I mean books just filled with happiness? If there isn’t a struggle for happiness, or joy, or hope, then I’m not interested. Bad things happening to decent people. And seeing what they do. Watching to see if they crumble, or rise up to the challenge. These stories interest me.

Maybe the Buddhists are right – all of life is suffering.

All life may be suffering but this stick deer I drew ought to cheer you up a bit:

Seven Moments of Mercy

Hello. How are you? I wonder about the idea of “novels.” I wonder if that specific classification as a subset of everything that is written, is valid anymore. I don’t know that I write novels. I write stories. I show stories. Maybe, instead of printing “a novel” on the cover of my books, I should insist that it says: “a story.” I wonder how that would change things. Would it change the expectation? So, Seven Moments of Mercy – a story? Does that work? I mean, a lot of people in my world don’t know that a novel is fiction. “What do you write?” they will ask. “Novels,” I will say. “Fictional?” they say. “Yes. Fictional,” I say, dying a little on the inside, because reading a “fictional novel,” is like drinking a glass of “wet water.”

So, why not “a story”? Or, “an exploration.” Or “a riff on love”? Or, “a riff on darkness”?

Maybe the term “novel” has become too highbrow.

I’m not married to the idea of writing “novels.” Or literary novels. I don’t mind that you call my new book a story that veers toward literary. Or just, a story. I’d be happy if you said: Gee, that was a hell of a story.

Seven Moments of Mercy is the working title of the new book, the new story. I would love to know what you think about this title. Drop me a line.

Here is my last ‘sorbet’, for those of you who are not on the sorbet list…The “seven” in this title has nothing to do with the “seven” in the title of the new book.

Seven small, seemingly unrelated ‘ghazal essays’
Why is it less offensive to hear a middle-aged woman point to her husband and say – “That’s my old man” than it is for any man, at any time, to say – “She’s my old lady”? Is it because women cling to youth harder than men? Is it because they’ve been taught the currency of youth? Because they worry about being left for a younger model? Add the “the” and it becomes equally and utterly offensive. It becomes a dehumanizing phrase, careless and hateful. “That’s the old man.” “That’s the old lady.” “That’s the old car.” “That’s the toaster.”
Guys are always asking me: “How’s Thomas?” I don’t know if this referring to me in the third person thing is them trying to be funny, or witty, or if they’re just stupid. I always want to say (but never do) – “I don’t know, he’s standing right here, you should ask him.” It’s always guys who do this, never women. Why is that?
Why am I offended by women who wear white runners with dresses – women who opt for ugly comfort over elegant beauty? I don’t care how busy you are, nor do I care how far you have to walk. I’m not suggesting high heels for every woman. I have heard that there are shoes other than high heels, and other than runners. Just saying: runners and dresses should never mix. At the same time, why would you give a damn about what I think?
This young drunk guy at party gave me a pill once. “It’s the juice,” he said. “It’s Cialis – for a night when you’ve had too much to drink. It’s really good.” I did not know that young men used these pills to offset the effects of drinking. In the morning, I couldn’t find that pill. And the cat was missing.
Why would any woman who wears four-inch heels be surprised when a man looks at her legs with admiration, or even desire? The only purpose of high-heeled shoes is to make the female leg look stunningly beautiful, if not sexy. It’s an invitation to look.
It makes me smile when I see a post, or a piece of writing somewhere online, and some bright woman has corrected a comment aimed at her – “Your a bitch” to “You’re a bitch” and then added the word “idiot” after the correction. I’d like to do that someday but I make way too many mistakes, and I have way too much to learn, to be someone who throws grammar rocks from the porch of my glass house. Though, I’d really like to meet that woman.
She suggests that all poets should write self-portraits every now and then. It’s a good exercise. Write a poem that is a self-portrait. Okay. I open a blank page in my journal, uncap my pen and sit and look at the page. I sit and look. At the page. I sit. And look. I.

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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)


"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!



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:

Release date Poland:

“…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


All material © 2007 Thomas Trofimuk
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