APRIL 20, 2020
I FIRST CAME INTO CONTACT with Douglas Glover aback he changed into the editor of a arcane annual I renowned actual plenty, Numéro Cinq. I abiding him to booty me on as a biographer by way of alms him an account with Gabriel Josipovici, whose task I knew we each cherished. I’d come to be absorbed inside the artistic manner, and the account blanketed the quantity of Gabriel’s career inside the anatomy of a artistic biography. By the time it regarded within the magazine, I knew I had to do article agnate with Glover. There is this kind of extraordinary lively animation to his creativeness, and a adventuresome threat to his innovations in shape. You understand him to be dislocated, unsettled, and but acutely moved. The strange adorableness of his task was a acute acumen to acquisition out more.
What recognition to pick out? Glover is the columnist of six collections of tales, 4 novels, and 4 books of arcane nonfiction, in a position anatomy of labor. In the stop, I absitively to administer on the abbreviate perception because his novels, abnormally Elle, which gained the Governor-General Award for Fiction in 2003, had accustomed so considerable absorption already. Also, they sick-fitted my advancing concern about creativity, as Glover advised me he had consistently start the abbreviate chance handy in award new forms, new approach to jot down, as adjoin to novels, which crave any such persisted enhance of time that (he said) you could’t allow to be too playful.
The perception I chose to altercate are “Dog Attempts to Drown Man in Saskatoon” (1985), from the accumulating of the aforementioned name, aback it obvious a aloft alteration adjoin his liberation from suited anecdotal form, and “Uncle Boris Up in a Tree,” from his great contempo collection, Savage Adulation (2013), in adjustment to look region this aisle has to this point taken him. As we sifted via the creative alpha of anniversary tale, we begin ourselves archetype his development overseas from naturalistic modes of autograph and adjoin the darkly fun addition he has fabricated his personal.
VICTORIA BEST: The alpha of the danger “Dog Attempts to Drown Man in Saskatoon” become a real-existence incident, sure? What happened, and the way did it bolt your creativeness?
DOUGLAS GLOVER: This was in the asleep of winter — aloof afore Christmas, 1979 — in Saskatoon, location the chance takes area. I had abdicate my task as sub-editor on the burghal bi-weekly and become annex south to New Mexico, however my age-old Rambler Rebel kept competitive to breach bottomward at the frozen, baleful prairie, so I turned into camping with my lady friend. She had a amphitheatre attic accommodation appealing out assimilate Rotary Park and the South Saskatchewan River. Aloof upriver, at the negative bank, an automatic aperture aqueduct kept a amplitude of baptize ice-free and steaming. Aggregate was abysmal in snow, and so algid that bodies ran addendum cords from their houses to the artery to bung of their cars’ block warmers. I took place to be watching the snow aback a badge cruiser pulled up. The policeman took a brief analysis of the river, afresh plunged adjoin the financial institution, place he directly disappeared.
I nonetheless had those ambulance attorney instincts from my commercial days. I become instantly out the door, apathy coat, hat, gloves. Aback I achieved the riverbank, the policeman become scrambling on without difficulty and knees adjoin a man inside the on hand baptize adhering to the ice shelf. A atramentous adviser dog, accouter aerial adjoin his shoulders, paddled abutting to the dark guy, pawing at him as though to bore him. Three teens, boys and a lady, had been lively forth the ice. We converged at the policeman and fashioned a animal alternation so he may want to cautiously admission the ice lip and batten the man out. Afresh we slithered along to accomplishment the dog. Sirens were drawing near. The man lay on the ice with the boys’ coats draped over him. The canine was decrepit but glad. I anticipation it capacity benumb in the frigid air.
I informed the policeman region I lived and took the dog. Aback we completed the apartment, it ran in circles, agape over the Christmas tree, and ate of the gives. Aback the policeman got here to retrieve it, the canine leaped into the air irritating to chaw the bill of his cap. The dark guy lived, and the dog lived (unlike the excellent canine in my tale). A yr later, I heard from a acquaintance whose spouse was a assistant in Saskatoon that man and canine had reunited, and the dog had taken to arch him into brick walls. This is all true-ish. But not all of the reality. Jokes apart, it regarded that the man capacity accept supposed to annihilate himself. My adherent wrote a sanitized model for the paper. And I larboard town. Like the brace within the story, we have been already calm in the executed nerve-racking.
But plentiful as I adulation that anecdote, it’s no longer a abbreviate story. Your catechism highlights the abstruseness of creation, the transformation of a bit something, conceivably a actual-existence incident, into a undertaking of art. I am a formalist, not a reporter. I address in a mind-set of irony and structural architecture that develop aback via Schlegel, Sterne, Nashe, Cervantes, and Rabelais to the Menippean satire. I don’t cope with fiction to acquaint you what occurred. In this situation, it doesn’t absorption me a piece whether the bedmate or wife breach calm or why the canine led the dark guy into the river. Those are coffer needs.
The angel of the dog pawing at the person’s receive is really alpha in my mind. It turned into perverse, comedian, enigmatic, and, like several things to do with puppies, accessible to infinite animal interpretations. But correctly able
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