Save Fadden

Globe & Mail reports today that this summer CSIS director Fadden promises to tell the Prime Minister, privately, the names of the BC politicians under the influence of foreign powers. Sorry, I don’t think it works this way in a free country. The public deserves to know about BCs Premier, etc. It is only fair. If Fadden is forced to resign over this, our country must be in a real moral collapse.

The Globe writes,

In an interview broadcast last month, Mr. Fadden said CSIS believes that at least two provincial cabinet ministers and several B.C. municipal politicians “are under at least the general influence of a foreign government.”

What provinces? Which ministers? Which B.C. municipalities?

Mr. Fadden declined to answer any of those questions on Monday in an appearance before a special summer sitting of the House of Commons public safety committee. He said CSIS will provide the government with the details in a formal briefing “very, very shortly.”

“I will name them … to the government,” Mr. Fadden said in response to questions from MPs.

I am glad spies are in the news these days — spies are real and people forget they are around. The Russian spies really fascinate me. Spies are an interesting sort of bird, because it is kind of pathetic to spy, a professional snitch for govt, quite unattractive to be so completely loyal to an asinine and corruptible system of bureaucrats, but amazing to be part of a secret world of information and intrigue and spook tactics, and the loneliness of it all is rather romantic, too.

Logo Hoax – Paul Watson – webmaster

Thanks goes out to my dear e-friend Paul Watson aka Logo Hoax for helping me set up this easy-to-use new version of my website. A link to my old site with its awkward Flash phrasing will go on the side panel, in case you are interested in what an early Y2K site looks like compared to now.

Check his Logo Hoax video (music and visuals) from 2003. I saw this on MuchMusic and sent Paul and email and we’ve stayed in contact ever since. Such a talented guy!!

Omar Souleyman Live

It was amazing to see Syrian electropop legend Omar Souleyman live last night at Performance Works — he had a Beirut poet on stage with him writing lyrics for him to sing! The crowd of Vancouver infidels was on fire, dancing the entire night. So good, great acid house inflections on the Korg!

Reading in Kelowna for Freedom to Read Week

On Thursday the 25th of February, I’m going to head up to Kelowna to extemporize about the Olympics and athletics and also read a chunk from The Man Game. The artist and writer, based in Kelowna, Portia Priegert, wrote a profile for the local paper. The Kelowna Daily Courier hasn’t had a chance to post it online yet, so Portia scanned a copy of it and sent it to me. I’ll post it here, because I love the look of this scan, which came to me looking more like an artwork than a news item.

It’s also Freedom to Read Week. These days with the Olympics on TV and on the streets around me, I hardly have any freedom or free time to read. In fact, when I go downtown to see the crowds and celebrations at Robson Square I notice more folks shopping at Chapters than at HMV. There’s a ton of other crazy strange things to notice about Vancouver during the Olympics that are worth sharing with an Interior BC crowd.

See you soon, Kelowna!


Book of the Decade

The Man Game comes in third on a National Post list of Canadian novels of the decade. Although, in my mind, I’ve graciously switched positions with Chester Brown for his Louis Riel graphic novel, which I think is among my very very favorite books of the past ten years; that, and Sheila Heti’s stories are in number one, and a few other books have switched spots as well, etc.

considering my fortunes, over coffee, in Vancouver, 2010…


Winner of Vancouver Book Award!

Amazing news, making me feel really proud. The Man Game won the City of Vancouver Book Award. I thanked McLeod’s Books for the inspiration. The Mayor’s cool — he doesn’t get enough sleep, though.


2009 Vancouver Book Award Finalist

Wow, such fine news this week — The Man Game is up for the 2009 Vancouver Book Award alongside esteemed writers Meredith Quartermain and Gabor Maté. They tell us the winner on November 3rd at an afternoon event with the mayor at City Hall.

Vancouver City Hall

In other news, I’m thrilled and honoured to be hosting the Vancouver International Writers and Readers Festival event with the extraordinary Quebec author Marie-Clair Blais. That’s on Friday, October, 23rd on Granville Island.

Allison Schulnik’s Hobo Clown

Allison Schulnik is interviewed in the latest issue of Border Crossings, a magazine I love to write for, and this caused me to blow my mind, seeing her paintings, and then visiting her site and seeing her animation Hobo Clown. It’s definitely worth a view.


Also, there’s rumours floating around that The Man Game has been nominated for a nice award, but I can’t find any links to prove it. Just putting that out there…

Reading at Whistler Writers & Readers Festival

Very excited to be reading at the Whistler Writers festival this fall. I’ll be reading from The Man Game and listening excitedly to words from Annabel Lyon’s upcoming novel!

Check out their website for details.

Also chuffed to discover CBC radio’s Paul Grant giving The Man Game some props on the Whistler Writers Blog — a blog that also has lots of information surrounding the festival’s Fall authors. I’ll be checking in regularly. They are a passionate group of book lovers!

Speaking of book lovers, so far I’m really enjoying reading the entries and comments in this book club blog, Paper to Pixel.

The Man Game wins BC Fiction Prize

The Man Game has won the 2009 Ethel Wilson prize for Best Book of Fiction published in BC — amazing! Many many thanks to the jury at the BC Book Prizes

The Man Game on National Post’s Top 10 Books of ’08

Thanks to National Post’s maverick arts journalist and literary critic Mark Medley who picked The Man Game as one of his top books for 2008, and then sat down with his esteemed colleagues for a lively roundtable discussion about the year’s books, podcasted here.



Lorna Jackson on The Man Game for CBC radio’s The Next Chapter

Lorna Jackson appears on CBC radio’s The Next Chapter on December 6, and talks about The Man Game with host Shelagh Roger’s. Jackson has already written an amazing blog post on the book. You can download the episode HERE!

Interview with See Magazine

Thanks to Michael Hingston at See Magazine in Edmonton for doing this phone interview with me. He called and woke me up while I was staying drinking at the Banff Centre, so I had to do this interview Lennon-Ono style! 

The Writer Gets Captured By The Game

First Novels don’t get more dense, ambitious, or engrossing than Lee Henderson’s The Man Game

By Lee Henderson. Viking Canada. 518 pp. $32.

Hollywood legend has it that Alien was sold on the strength of a one-line pitch: “Jaws in space.” It’s easy to imagine The Man Game, the huge and wondrous debut novel from Lee Henderson, being sold in similar style: “Deadwood in Vancouver.”

Like the now-cancelled HBO show, Henderson’s book is chock full of wily prostitutes, take-no-shit bartenders, waves of Chinese immigrants sent up from San Francisco, and generally fuzzy notions of law and history. Both are also beautifully written, with unlikely amounts of poetry scattered amidst waves and waves of cursing. Instead of drunk, violent cowboys, however,The Man Game has drunk, violent lumberjacks. Instead of spurs, they wear flannel.

Written over nine years, Henderson’s book recounts the imagined history of the “man game” — a sport that’s part Greco-Roman wrestling, part ballroom dancing, part bar brawl — which takes the young Canadian city by storm in 1886. The cast balloons into the dozens, but at the centre are Molly Erwagen and her paralyzed husband Sammy, who arrive in Vancouver just as a massive forest fire threatens to swallow the city whole.

An ex-vaudeville performer and current housewife, Molly senses a business opportunity in the working-class loggers, who have no entertainment available to them aside from the usual opium, whiskey, and prostitutes. Behind her husband’s back, she recruits and trains two disgraced lumberjacks as the game’s first players, and together they set out to bring some culture to the barbaric west.

SEE recently woke Henderson up while on a retreat as part of the Calgary Writers’ Festival. He spoke to us over the telephone. He didn’t get out of bed.

SEE Magazine: The Man Game is set in late 19th-century Vancouver, amidst anti-Chinese riots and the great fire of 1886, which nearly destroyed the city the same year it was incorporated. How much of this history did you know before starting the book? Read the rest of this entry »

I Blog

The National Post asked me to write four guest posts for the weekend edition of their blog Ampersand, so I wrote about the recession, Roberto Bolano (forgetting to mention Nazi Literature in the Americas), pop culture droppings, and Alabama rap music.

Bookninja Qs The Man Game

Huge thanks to Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer for the Bookninja interview. As always, the link’s there to the original interview, and I’ve copy-pasted it below for the ol’ MG archive.



The Man Game: Lee Henderson Interview 
by Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer

Lee Henderson’s debut novel, The Man Game, is a romp and a face-off in olde Vancouver. There is racism, there is opium, there are pretty entrepreneurs, a paraplegic (train stunt), saloons, brothels, and, yes, lumberjacks. There are fist-fights, bravado and dance routines; there is (discretion is advised here) a great deal of nudity. There is, in short, nothing like The Man Game. Your Fall book season will truly be incomplete without having read it.

Award winning author Lee Henderson and Bookninja’s Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer wrestled into the book and around it in this interview. Please enjoy.

* * *

Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer: I read The Man Game manically, over a few days. And these were my gut responses as I read: What the? Wha-? Is Lee Henderson mad? Where did this all come from?

So, I guess: What the? Wha-? Are you mad? Where did this book come from?

Lee Henderson: The culture of woodsmen, day labourers, stevedores, fisherman, and miners in the 1800s was rough. To write convincingly about that pioneering scene, I wanted to use language that was good for readers today. So I dialed my ear to those voices in contemporary Vancouver — listening to the guys argue and fight on the scaffolding as they reclad the leaky condo I was renting, transcribing bar fights as they escalated, talking with the longshoremen and misfits who aspired to be professional wrestlers, hanging out with anarchist punks and noise musicians…I was listening for the sounds of early Vancouver in today’s city. I discovered it was all around me.

Anger is a part of this book because it is human. Hate is a part of this book, too. These are awfully difficult emotions to write about, but I had to be responsible to the dark history of Vancouver, and so I had to write about anger in detail, anger and hate and fear caused our race riots. Read the rest of this entry »

FFWD: The Man Game

Thanks to Bryn Evans at FFWD magazine in Calgary for the cool write-up on the book. Linked there, and copy-pasted here for the archives.


Real men wear pink tights and makeup

Henderson tackles the games men played in gritty old-time Vancouver


Lee Henderson’s debut novel, The Man Game, opens in Vancouver in 1886, a dirty, bawdy city full of smoke and filth. Enter Molly Erwagen, a performer who has spent most of her life in the circus, recently transposed from out East with her paralyzed husband Samuel. Having nothing else to do but look after him, she finds her attention drifting to two lumberjacks, Litz and Pisk. They’re immersed in the underground “man game,” a brutal, poetic form of wrestling, where men strip naked and pulverize each other. She finds in them the same sense of desperation she feels and is drawn into their world of performative violence. Read the rest of this entry »

Tyee Talks Aboot The Man Game

Thanks to the inimitable Ben “big heart” Hart for the thoughtful piece on the book for Tyee. I’ll copy-paste it here, but be sure to check out the Tyee’s site, it’s full of awesome.


Lee Henderson’s Beloved, Nasty Old Vancouver

By Ben Hart

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November 5, 2008“We were in search of a history we were sure to mistreat. As if a city would ever store its proudest moments in this dipping cellar. As if we could floss a story from all this mealy worthless scrap.” So says Kat, the narrator of Lee Henderson’s first novel The Man Game, as he digs through old newspapers and photographs, testimony from another time.

The Man Game exists in two places at once — past and present-day Vancouver. In the present, Kat and Minna, the woman he desperately loves, follow the hush-hush of rumour to a neighbourhood on the east side of the city, a place utterly foreign to them. “A long-nosed boy sat in a corner of the yard beside a tree,” Kat says, describing the place, “one hand inside a black silk top hat, no pants on. That kind of neighbourhood. Poor magic.” Kat and Minna trail a crowd to the backyard of a sinking house. There, they witness two men engaged in a kind of burlesque — a wrestling match, a man game that marries brutal force and artful choreography. After the game, Kat and Minna befriend the players. They are ushered into the house and then shown to the basement. It is here they discover a story as big and as confounding as the city and all its incarnations. Read the rest of this entry »

The Walrus Interviews for The Man Game

Thanks to Jared Bland at The Walrus Magazine for the interview. Here it is:

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This week, Lee Henderson’s first novel, The Man Game, was shortlisted for the Rogers Writers’ Trust fiction prize, and deservedly so. It is a sprawling, brilliant, playful, heartbreaking, and eminently wise book that considers its world with unusual bravery and purpose. It’s easily one of the very best books I’ve read this year. I caught up with Lee Henderson last month, while he was in Toronto for the launch.

* * * * *

This is your first novel, but unlike many first books it’s not obviously autobiographical. How did your ideas come together?

I think it still is autobiographical, but more symbolic autobiography. I’ve always been doing drawings, and I always thought it was somehow irreverent to draw naked men, and I’d be in writing classes and you’re supposed to write critiques on people’s stories or poems, and I’d just be drawing little naked men for them. It seemed counterintuitive at the time, so I’m always looking for how to draw stories out of very small obsessions like that. I knew that if it was going to take nine years, at least I’d be entertained while I worked on it. And I just tried to take this idea of the man game and basically use it to craft a book that could talk about the historical novel as a genre within literature, as well as something much more contemporary, integrating and absorbing the information and narrative structures of video games, for instance. I was thinking of this idea of combat or competition as a structural cog to keep the book going. And I was also frustrated by some of the CanLit books—the historical novels—which I felt were too committed to a fidelity of the time, trying to match the era word for word. It’s kind of a parlour trick. Not that I don’t love a lot of the straight historical fiction that’s done, but that’s why I wanted to write a historical novel: it’s a Canadian form in a lot of ways.

It’s the Canadian form. What Canadian books were important to you in this? I kept thinking of Tay John. Read the rest of this entry »

Writers’ Trust Nominates The Man Game

holy moly The Man Game has been nominated for the Rogers Writer’s Trust Fiction Prize.

The Georgia Straight on The Man Game

Thanks to Kevin Chong for the article in The Georgia Straight.

The Man Game puts past in play for Lee Henderson

At Stanley Park, the Hollow Tree is braced by two beams and could be mistaken for a giant, primordial tripod. In Lee Henderson’s mind, the long-standing but ailing park attraction appears too small.
Henderson, whose first novel, The Man Game (Penguin, $32), is set in an earlier period of Vancouver’s history, when the park was occupied by squatters, a Native settlement, and a herd of free-range cattle, describes archival photos he’s seen in which people pose with cars and elephants inside the tree. In his novel, he’s set a pivotal scene, in which one character spurns another’s advances, at the local landmark.

“It must have been pretty huge at one time,” says Henderson about the tree, which, he tells me, has shrunken as it’s dried out over the decades. “It’s still pretty towering.”

The Man Game isn’t your typical historical novel, one that tries to conjure a place in the past as accurately and believably as possible. Although thoroughly researched, the book is full of deliberate anachronisms, including its eponymous conceit: a Greco-Roman–style wrestling competition between naked lumberjacks that transfixes the city in its early days. Read the rest of this entry »