Book Review: Conflict Is Not Abuse, by Sarah Schulman

I’ve noticed more and more over the last decade that less and less people want to use the phone. I cannot help but draw a correlation between this observation and the ubiquitous rise of digital communication. Email? Sure. Text? Yup. And what’s wrong with this, you might ask? On paper it would objectively appear that text-based communication (particularly including social media) is superior at transferring information without error, if only us pesky humans didn’t make mistakes. And this last part is key: we are not objective, we balance the objective world with our much less easily measurable experiential (or personal) reality; this second reality is informed by our experiences, which are diverse and sometimes punctuated by trauma or loss. When we talk to someone on the phone we are leaving ourselves prone — to fallibility (stammering, going off on a tangent), or having our hesitations read as something we may not otherwise wish to reveal.

I was thinking about these things (and many others) when I began reading Sarah Schulman’s powerful book, Conflict Is Not Abuse: Overstating Harm, Community Responsibility, and the Duty of Repair. The problem with nearly all forms of digital communication and social media (with the exception of apps like Skype, etc) is that there is no actual dialogue — we aren’t allowed to have the sort of vulnerable conversations that speaking in-person or on the phone forces us into. And, in one of the book’s more important diagnoses, Schulman recognizes this as a key ingredient in the escalation of violence. Instead we are only allowed to trade unidirectional statements, leaving nuance and human connection by the wayside. So, when we have a disagreement with someone via text it becomes easy to pile on them, to vilify them. We can’t see them and there is no way for them to interject. On a social media platform like Twitter, this sort of conflict easily escalates into directing the wrath of groups upon an individual. Continue reading

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Essay in Humber Literary Review #6

I’m happy to say that the latest issue of Humber Literary Review (#6) is out, and I have an essay included. This is their first themed issue, and it’s about mental health. Because I’m a psychotherapist who is deeply reflective about the way in which we choose to see the world, I saw this as a golden opportunity to submit a pertinent perspective; my essay, On Madness Within Imagination, confronts a cultural blindspot – the depiction of madness in fiction.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is available at the following Toronto bookstores:

Another Story (on Roncesvalles)
Book City on the Danforth
Book City on Queen
Book City on St Clair
Book City in the Village
Presse Internationale on Bloor
Presse Internationale in the Beaches
Type Books (on Queen)

It is available elsewhere, of course, but I have no clue where. You can also purchase a subscription from HLR.

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Handbound Print Edition of Snowshoe For Sale

I do a lot of talking about my novel, The Society of Experience, however that’s not the only work of fiction I’ve had published. Found Press, who has published my stories in their unique digital singlet format, is experimenting with the idea of creating limited print editions of select authors’ stories. I’m happy to say that one of those chosen is Snowshoe, my spooky piece about a father trying to get his son to sleep only to realize the boy is haunted by something more ominous than the wind outside.

Snowshoe handbound print edition (5 1/2″ x 4 1/4″)

This is well-timed since I read from Snowshoe on October 25th for the International Festival of Authors and it got a great reception. I have in my possession 15 copies – that is the extent of the initial print run since they are handbound. I am selling them for $15 each (optionally signed, if you wish). Or, if you haven’t yet read The Society of Experience (longlisted for the Sunburst Award, fave of Harper’s Bazaar magazine, as well as Emily Saso’s favourite book of 2015) I will sell a bundle of Snowshoe and The Society of Experience (regular $37 if bought individually) for $32 (and yes, optionally signed, if you wish). Crazy cheap bargain Cahill stop it.

The Society of Experience bundled with Snowshoe

Obviously, I only have 15 copies of Snowshoe, and while there will most likely be more in production (I can tell you there is a lot of interest from independent bookstores here in Toronto in this and other FP titles) because they are hand-made they don’t exactly slide off a conveyor by the hundreds. In other words, there’s no guarantee when more will be available.

If you are interested, get in touch: matt [at] mattcahill [dot] ca. Note: postage is extra (but reasonable)

 

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A Note For Book Clubs

This past weekend I had the pleasure of visiting a book club in Brantford, Ontario. It was my first experience and I truly enjoyed it. I valued the perspective of the readers and was able to hear questions I often wouldn’t get a chance to hear in professional Q&As, which end up being rather tightly formatted. The questions I received were often challenging and thought-provoking. It was also fun talking about my history there (I spent a chunk of my early years in Onondaga), which was referenced in the Brantford Expositor last year.

I wanted to share this because if anyone reading this has a book club and would consider having myself (and my book, The Society of Experience) make an appearance, please feel free to get in touch. My contact info is on my author page: http://mattcahill.ca. I can’t always guarantee my availability, but wherever I can make it work, I will. I’m happy to make a visit in-person, as well as field a Q&A via email, or take part in a Skype session.

 

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Upcoming Readings With Kyp Harness and Mark Sampson & A ChiSeries Video

I have two new gigs lined up over the next few months. I have to say that my visit to Ottawa was wonderful — everyone involved, organizers and audience alike were very friendly and great people to chat with (in case you were curious, or thought these were terribly serious affairs). If you’ve been thinking of making it out, it would be great to see you at either of the next two events.

June 10th @ The Belljar (2072 Dundas St W, Toronto)
I will be reading from The Society of Experience as part of a launch for indie musician Kyp Harness’ debut novel, Wigford Rememberies. We will be joined by poet Mark Sampson, reading from his new collection, Weathervane. Details of the event can be found here. Authors’ books will be sold via Another Story Bookstore.

July 6th @ McNally Robinson Booksellers (1120 Grant Avenue, Winnipeg, MB)
I will be joining the ChiSeries once more, this time for my first reading outside of Ontario! Also reading that night will be David Neil Lee — we will be joined in conversation by Chadwick Ginther and S.M. Beiko. Details can be found here. I haven’t been in Winnipeg before so I’m really looking forward to it.

Speaking of Ottawa, the people at Silver Stag Entertainment managed to tape my reading. I normally can’t stand the sight of myself reading (or hearing my voice), but it ain’t bad. The audio quality is a little rough, as you can overhear bar patrons in the room next door, but I thought I would share it with you. Enjoy!

Lastly, I’m hoping to announce a brief Alberta tour that will be happening in September. It’s in the planning stages, so fingers are crossed!

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Look Out, I’m Coming At Ya [updated April 25th!]

Late April/early May is going to be busy with appearances! First up, I will be participating in the 35th annual Ad Astra Convention (happening April 29-May 1 in Toronto). UPDATE: I’m appearing on Sunday the 1st of May at 2pm on the panel The Trials and Tribulations of Writing About Time Travel (along with fellow authors Kari Maaren and Kelly Robson).

Then, on Saturday April 30 I will be taking part in Authors For Indies Day, working the floor at Type Books during their 10th Anniversary (Queen West location) from 12pm to 1pm. Come by and I will help you find books!

Lastly, I will be reading in Ottawa on Tuesday May 3rd at Patty Boland’s (101 Clarence Street). UPDATE: I’m appearing at 7pm, alongside authors Chadwick Ginther and Mark Shainblum. Event listing here.

Like I said: it’s busy!

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Interview on CIUT’s HOWL

CIUT logo

CIUT is the University of Toronto’s radio station

I’m going to be interviewed on CIUT’s literary program, HOWL, hosted by Nancy Bullis, this Tuesday (March 15). I’ll be speaking about The Society of Experience, writing, and whatever else comes up. We’ve got an hour, so I’m curious to see how this goes. I’ve never done radio before, so I look forward to the experience! The first thing I’ve learned is that THEY DON’T ALLOW COFFEE INTO THE STUDIO, which is…well, something I’m going to have to deal with, considering the show starts at 10pm.

If you’re interested in listening-in, the show is located on the local Toronto FM dial at 89.5, and is streamed live via various sources. Wish me luck!

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I’m On Goodreads

It’s hard to keep everything together in one cohesive piece, and I realize that the only way anyone would know I’m on Goodreads is by being on Goodreads and searching for me by name, which is not exactly intuitive. So, yeah, I’m on that thing now. If you like Goodreads as a portal for books and readers, feel free to leave a review of either The Society of Experience or my two standalone “singles”, Snowshoe, and Second World. Thanks!

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Author Profile in the December Issue of Quill & Quire Magazine

My year-of-years continues with blessings – I was profiled in the December issue of Quill & Quire, the major trade publication for publishers and booksellers in Canada. Although the feature isn’t likely to be posted online, I’m attaching a photo below taken from my smartphone. The December issue is still on newstands if you are interested in picking up a copy.

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