Jonathan Goldstein Joins the Deathmatch Prize


Jonathan Goldstein has joined the Deathmatch’s prize line-up. The winner of the Indie Writer’s Deathmatch will get a sit-down with the author/podcaster to discuss the tips and tricks of writing publishable work. Jonathan’s experience with non-fiction radio, his comedic re-working of the Bible, and his poignant fiction make him a leading authority on any style of writing.

Click HERE for more Deathmatch info.



JONATHAN GOLDSTEIN’s writing has appeared in The WalrusThe New York TimesGQ, and in the National Post. He is a frequent contributor to PRI’s This American Life and The New York Times Magazine , and he is the author of the novels Ladies and Gentlemen, The Bible! and Lenny Bruce Is Dead. His new podcast Heavyweight looks back the big moments we want to redo.


Book Review: Defiance: Greece and Europe

greece-and-europeDefiance: Greece and EuropeRoger Silverman, 262 pages, Zero Books,

I’ve often felt when trying to convince conservatives of the evils of capitalism that my arguments have been tarnished in advance by the climate created by the lazy-if-correct opinions of my peers. Given the conspicuous – much less the hidden – crimes of big business and its political allies, people of a progressive bent have become so complacent in their opposition that self-righteousness has become our default. Reading Roger Silverman’s excitingly current book on the Greek economic fiasco reminded me of the importance of being rigorous even if you’re certain you’re right.

It is interesting to consider whether the book is truth-seeking, versus weakened by bias, given that its socialist agenda is on full display. Unashamedly polemical, it smacks axiomatic that the book would compromise on truth, yet Silverman earns his right to preach by providing a vast knowledge of Greek and European history. I questioned conventional historiography; maybe history should be openly polemical instead of a pretended objectivity serving a tacit personal or vested interest.

The writing is rousing, a fist punching the sky in the solar plexus. You get the voice of an angry man who witnessed something in Greece, defrauded and impoverished by capitalism, which compelled him to speak out. Upton Sinclair comes to mind. There are moments that the impassive way historians are supposed to write can no longer contain Silverman’s pleas for action. He describes the austerity measures lenders forced upon Greece as “a laboratory experiment conducted on the living body of the Greek nation to test out how far it could withstand the trauma of ever more drastic surgical amputation.” He describes quasi-democratic political dynasties as “tinged with the faint afterglow reflected by the yearnings for liberation of generations gone by.” Silverman bucks our contemporary trend of implying rather than stating ethics. He does not leave it up to you to draw your own conclusions; he gave you the facts for a reason. If you want to floor your class enemies with specifics instead of feeling pointlessly smug, right but not knowing why, read this book. (Norman Feliks)


Comics by Gord Hill: The Story of Almighty Voice

Gord Hill’s comics appear in every issue of Broken Pencil. Click the image to view it in a larger format.


Broken Pencil’s Anti CanLit Reading List

Sick of “Canlit” in the traditional sense? We know we are! Our editor’s have picked a few (hopefully) refreshing alternatives to the same old stuff you’ve been assigned in English class.



Helen Marshall

Thanks in part to the Toronto-based publisher Chizine Publications, Canada is developing a healthy crop of world-renowned weird, fantastic and horror genre writers. Writer and academic Helen Marshall is one of my favourites in this group. Her short story collections, Hair Side, Flesh Side and Gifts for the One Who Comes After are both published by Chizine and explore everyday scenarios that become magical or horrific (and sometimes both). In Marshall’s world, women discover lost manuscripts by Jane Austen hidden under their skin, suburban child magicians receive dangerous comeuppances, and small towns become mysteriously plagued by obscure and fatal omens. Marshall is a beautiful and highly imaginative writer – her stories will leave you exhilarated and maybe a little scarred. Buy her work here. (Alison Lang)

Ayelet Tsabari

Tsabari’s award-winning debut collection of short fiction The Best Place on Earth largely centers around the lives of Israel’s Mizrahi Jews – mothers, grandmothers, lovers, soldiers. While each story is accordingly woven through with questions of cultural tradition, conflict and history, it’s Tsabari’s empathetic voice and masterful grip on the art of the short story that rings through and makes this collection exceptional. Riveting, enlightening and indispensable. Buy the book here. (Alison Lang)

Rebecca Rosenblum

Rosemblum’s first short-story collection Once has been out for awhile now – it was published in 2008 by Biblioasis – and she’s has written a bunch of stuff since then, including her forthcoming novel So Much Love, but my love for Once is deep and abiding that I still think about its characters years later. Rosenblum’s prose is so simple and spare and profoundly lovely. It feels like she’s not writing as much as inhabiting the bodies and minds of people who already exist – while maintaining a wry and gentle detachment with regards to their mistakes, their naivete, their aimlessness.  As a result, these 16 stories about different types of people living and working (mostly in Toronto) find profundity and emotional resonance through urban routine, twentysomething ennui and the mundane. Buy her book here. (Alison Lang)

Katherena Vermette

Katherena Vermette’s North End Love Songs may have won the Governor General’s award, but it’s far from your standard Canadiana fare. Stories of the pain and resilience of Indigenous women and girls in Winnipeg’s North End shine through sparsely worded poems. She’s also got a series of kids’ books under her wing, and her first novel, The Break, was released this Fall by Anansi. Buy her books here.  (Jonathan Valelly)

Richard Van Camp

Although his classic novel The Lesser Blessed entered into some parts of the Canadian psyche, particularly after its film adaptation, Richard Van Camp has published 15 books and shows no signs of stopping, including graphic novels and children’s literature. His collection of stories, Night Moves, was described in Broken Pencil as “unsettling, beautiful, and fantastical” for its blending of subtle post-colonial and feminist critiques with the eerieness of daily life in the Northwest Territories. Buy his work here. (Jonathan Valelly)

Revolution On Rye – Online Exclusive Fiction

ryeJim Doering gives us a revolt against deli prices in this months online exclusive. In January, our online fiction will be replaced by Broken Pencil’s online short story tournament: The Indie Writers Deathmatch. Click here to submit and here for more information.

“Plastic-covered paperclips will be the first to go when the peasants revolt. Mark my words.”

The two men sat around a small, metal table at an outdoor café on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Vanya, short and paunchy, wore a black fedora and an old green army-surplus jacket. He nursed an espresso. Smoke curled from a cigar in his tobacco-stained fingers. Shimmel, tall and thin, his long salt-and-pepper hair untamed, was garbed in a faded-denim shirt and jeans. He was sipping on his second cup of steaming black coffee.

“Vanya, please explain about the paperclips.”

“I’m shocked at your naiveté, Shimmel,” he said as he exhaled a puff of thick, acrid smoke. “Is that ashy gray in your beard all that remains of your fire and fervor? The paperclips are but a metaphor. This bourgeois society heaps upon us such gravity of useless things so as to convince us that we are joyous with choice, when in fact we bear the heavy burden of abject slavery. Coating a paperclip does not improve its use, it only increases the cost.”

“Perhaps the colors are pleasing to some.”

“I once thought you a man of better intellect, Shimmel. Colors are of no consequence. It is but one more opiate to deceive the oblivious masses.”

Win a meeting with Chris Bucci of The McDermid Agency!


Broken Pencil is proud to announce that Chris Bucci of The McDermid Agency is this year literary agent in our Deathmatch prize pack! The McDermid Agency has represented Giller, Man Booker, GG, and Writers Trust winners and nominees to name a few.

Submission deadline for this year’s Deathmatch Short Story competition is December 21st. The Prize Pack includes $400, a meeting with Chris Bucci, a meeting with an acclaimed author, and a meeting with a book publisher. Author and Book Publisher TBA. For more Deathmatch information click HERE.

chris1aaChris Bucci is a literary agent, director and full partner at The McDermid Agency. He represents bestselling authors such as Bob Rae, Timothy Caulfield, Susan Delacourt, Jowita Bydlowska, James Grainger and Kerri Sakamoto. Most recently senior editor at McClelland & Stewart, he worked primarily with non-fiction, bringing to the M&S catalogue the likes of Alain de Botton, Christopher Hitchens, Paul Watson and Sir Martin Gilbert.

He began his career at the University of Toronto Press and soon became an acquisitions editor in social sciences and cultural studies. Bucci joined HarperCollins Canada in 2003 as a non-fiction editor. Moving to M&S in 2004, Bucci helped revitalize the McClelland & Stewart non-fiction program, establishing relationships with international authors, agents and publishers.