Editorial – Con Artists, Bears, and The of Days
Moacyr Scliar – Van Gogh’s Ear
Josephine Rowe – What Passes for Fun
Ken Kalfus – Schvartzer
Lally Katz – Apocalypse Bear – Part 1
Nicholas Margan – God’s Cousin
Chloe Smith – Kreepy Krauly
Julia Prendergast – Sowing the Wind
Eric Dittmar – Miami Girls
Elizabeth Jolley – A Gentleman’s Agreement
Lally Katz – 15-Second Android
" ... With every issue we hope to bring together unlikely writers and unlikely readers. This issue has new writers (like Julia Prendergast, Eric Dittmar and Nicholas Margan) alongside wonderful international writers like Ken Kalfus and Moacyr Scliar.
In every issue of The Canary Press we reprint an old or classic short story. In this issue we present ‘A Gentleman’s Agreement’ by Elizabeth Jolley. This story is wry and crackling and funny, and maybe not what you’d expect from someone who has awards named after her.
Two other Australians in this issue, Josephine Rowe and Lally Katz, do very different things and do them brilliantly. Every sentence that Josephine Rowe puts on a page seems imbued with some sort of magic. Lally Katz’s play is a beautiful mix of funny and weird, naïve and worldly. We had to fight her in an alleyway to win the publishing rights. We fought hard because it’s a very good play (in fact, it’s outstanding). I have long arms like a chimpanzee. She knew karate but it was the longer reach that did it. "
Van Gogh's Ear by Moacyr Scliar
"...Father borrowed a biography of Van Gogh from the library and spent the weekend immersed in the book. Then, late on Sunday afternoon, the door of his bedroom opened and he emerged, triumphant:
‘I’ve found it!’
Taking me aside – at the age of twelve I was his
confidant and accomplice – he then whispered, his eyes glittering:
‘Van Gogh’s ear. The ear will save us.’
‘What are the two of you whispering about?’ asked Mother, who didn’t have much tolerance for what she called the shenanigans of her husband.
‘Nothing, nothing,’ replied Father, and then to me, lowering his voice, ‘I’ll explain later.’ "
What Passes for Fun by Josephine Rowe
"... It is magic in the sense that there is no metaphor you can build out of it that will not undermine its magic. We stand at the roadside looking out at it for ten or fifteen minutes, holding tight to our daughters who flap belligerently at the ends of our fingers like poorly-trained kestrels. Then we get back into the car and drive it to your sister’s house, where the salmon is overdone and nothing extraordinary happens. "
Shvartzer by Ken Kalfus
" ... He knew the story, of course. No one in the condo community didn’t. Only three months earlier, Mr. Brown’s seventeen-year-old grandson, Nicky, had been mugged a block from his home in Riverdale. The muggers had put the barrel of a revolver in his mouth and their hands in his pockets. When all they found was small change, they removed the gun and beat his face with it. As further consolation for not finding any money, they took his sneakers, a pair of black high-tops. "
Apocalypse Bear by Lally Katz
" ... JEREMY: Mostly we improvise and play games. Sometimes, one of us will cry out for a word from the floor – or from underneath a bridge of the other students – we’ll cry out, ‘House fire.’ We’ll cry out, ‘Lasagne’. And it’s not funny. Everyone nearly cries. One time I called out, ‘Christmas tree’, another girl whispered, ‘Hanukkah.’ And it was deep. Not just political. It wasn’t political. Don’t you see – it was about who we are now and about our childhoods at the same time. "
God's Cousin by Nic Margan
" ... When God arrived back in town he came walking down Main Street, with children running behind him, cartwheeling and holding each other by the hands. He held a bag full of live, squirming fish in one hand. Poor, hungry people surrounded him, and he distributed the fish to them. No matter how many fish God handed out, it seemed like the bag was always full. Occasionally, a fish flipped out of the bag and hit the pavement with a cold thud.
Amongst the crowd was a very old lady with a face like a brown paper bag that has been used and re-used a hundred times. She approached God and began to wail. As God’s go-to guy, I felt it was my place to tell her to quieten down.
But God looked at her as if to say, ‘Go ahead, love.’
And then God said, ‘Go ahead, love.’
The very old lady began to tell God her story. It was a story of hardship and of loss. It was very long. She must have been very old, to be able to recount such a long story, so full of misery.
As she started getting on a bit, God interrupted the very old lady to say, ‘Go on, sweetheart, but remember: I’m holding a bag of live fish here.’ "
Kreepy Krauly by Chloe Smith
"We stood on the edge watching it course through the deep. I told the recruits that if we wanted it gone we’d have to do it ourselves. Same as last year. It sucked and chugged below with its disgusting frilled mouth and sinewy neck. I’d heard one of these things could rip a kid limb-from-limb but as I waded in with two pool noodles, I convinced myself it would have to be a kid smaller than me. The others followed with rubber tyres and inflatable thongs until we had it flanked on all sides. "
Sowing the Wind by Julia Prendergast
" ... I sit in the interview room, looking around, taking the place in, reading the Police Code of Ethics – strive to serve with integrity and blah.
The policeman is suspicious of me. He says that my story does not add up, but not all stories do, even when they’re true. "
Miami Girls by Eric Dittmar
" ... She, however, against seemingly impossible odds, had never learned any language at all. Her two friends explained, with scraps of English and exaggerated gestures, that Silent had been trampled by a bear, who was running, terrified, from a forest fire, back when she was just two years old. "
A Gentleman's Agreement by Elizabeth Jolley
" ... Mother cleaned in a large block of luxury
apartments. She had keys to the flats and she came and went as she pleased and as her work demanded. It was while she was workingthere that she had the idea of letting the people from down our street taste the
pleasures rich people took for granted in their way of living. While these people were away to their offices or on business trips she let our poor neighbours in. We had wedding receptions and parties in the penthouse and the old folk came in to soak their feet and wash their clothes while Mother was doing the cleaning."