Michael Kenyon

Michael Kenyon is the author of eleven books of poetry and fiction. The Beautiful Children won the 2010 ReLit Award for best novel. Other work has been shortlisted for the ReLit Award, the Commonwealth Writers Prize, the SmithBooks/Books in Canada First Novel Award, the Baxter Hathaway Prize (Cornell) in fiction, The Malahat Review Novella Prize, Prism international’s fiction contest (won twice), and the Journey Prize. He divides his week between Pender Island and Vancouver.


Books


 

SHORT FICTION

244 pages / paper

Available in the US
World Rights Available


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ISBN: 978-1-927068-82-3
List Price: $18.95

Michael Kenyon

Parallel Rivers is a collection of stories that were coaxed into existence from Kenyon’s interest in seeing what fiction might learn from film, particularly the German, French, Italian, and Japanese cinema of the 70s. While Kenyon’s fictions are often immersed in postmodern sensibilities, adding the rituals and techniques and experiments of film to the process changes some of the ground rules.

The collection has two sections that run stylistically parallel to each other. The first section consists of short, often surreal or uncomfortable fictions; the second contains longer stories of larger, more realistic worlds. In the shorter fictions, each story creates its own world order, and presents hyper-utilizations of point of view, time shifts, and disconnected physical detail. Here you will find stories about construction buddies who are violently transformed by their marriages; a cold war incident that causes a Canadian circus in Russia to fragment and disintegrate; a political runner at a Ravi Shankar concert who must cope with death and detachment; and a surreal train that derails the purpose of a man dying.

In the longer pieces considerably more tradition and familiarity are used. There’s the story “Jane Hart’s Airband” where the Tom Waitsian energy sweeps the reader along in a tale of music, quirky adventure, and character conjecture. Or in the memory lament “That Time in Palm Springs”, that closes out the collection. Gone is the anarchy and randomness that purpose the earlier shorter pieces. Here the speaker, a man caring for his ancient father, efficiently gathers his memories around him and recounts in a controlled reliability those moments that may have shaped him. In Kenyon’s fictions, the concept of memory as in our narrator’s case may not be reliable nor may his life have been lived as he suggests, and his immersion in movies and television might create enough distrust that the reader can easily be left unsure. These fictions exist as dreams exist, yet within this framework truth is revealed and the full play of language exercised.

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NOVEL
216 pages / paper

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ISBN: 978-1-927068-04-5
List Price: $19.95

Michael Kenyon

Part intellectual mystery and part spiritual adventure, A Year At River Mountain tells the story of an aging actor from Vancouver who has immersed himself in monastic life in China and is now examining his past as an actor, husband, and father. As his Western consciousness grapples with Taoist philosophies and acupressure techniques, he assesses his life and records the struggles of transformation that accompany such thinking.

The monastery’s Old Master has given the narrator permission to write the commentary he shares with us while raising the question of who “reader and narrator” really are. At times uncertainty leads him to confuse the monastery with another kind of institution. Fellow monks, particularly the American bellringer, Frank, are often as humorously baffling as they are ritualistically inviting. But the force driving his obsessive commentary and his year at River Mountain is the anticipation of the arrival of Imogen, an American actor and monastery patron. 

Kenyon balances the narrator’s interior life with hints of external disturbance and with purposeful missions outside the monastery. Village unrest threatens the monks’ balance and harmony; the nightmarish rape of a village woman uncovers a trapdoor to chaos; travel over the mountain conjures a snow leopard in a blizzard-choked pass; an arduous journey to wild islands off the coast offers ancient discoveries; and a trip to the city to find a prophet changes time forever. Crises build as war threatens; floods occur and a devastating event leads our narrator to a beautiful and surprising formulation of how things are.

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NOVEL

192 pages/trade paper

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REVIEWS

 

ISBN: 978-1-897235-47-8
List Price: $18.95

Michael Kenyon

A man wakes up in a hospital with one word in his head: Sapporo. He dimly recalls this as the place where he was raised, and it becomes his name and identity. Like an immigrant without language or memory he relies on his young son as guide and interpreter, but soon drifts away into what some might see as madness.

In Sapporo’s floating world, he is also Prospero, summoning the ancestors and channeling the lost dreams that gave way to the modern industrial era.

His son, meanwhile, has escaped to the city’s underworld. His laconic account of the anarchic, callous, tender tribe of street kids is beyond the scope of any realist fiction, yet compelling as a documentary and fiercely poetic.

Parallel to these worlds, and destined to reconnect them, is a young woman’s journey through what is indeed the Third World – as surreal in its poverty and shifting realities as anything in Sapporo’s visions or his son’s predations.

The Beautiful Children is a triumph of language and structure; it is also a haunting, and haunted, elegy upon innocence.

“Not only does Kenyon forge imaginative narrative paths, but also he has a compelling gift for language on a sentence level . . . Anyone who respects attempts to make fiction will be rewarded by reading Kenyon’s work.” — Candace Fertile, Malahat Review

  • Winner of the 2010 ReLit Award for Fiction

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Novel

252 pages/trade paper

Available in the US
World Rights Available

REVIEWS

ISBN: 978-1-897235-02-7
List Price: $19.95

Michael Kenyon

 Rosa Pryznyk’s harrowing escape from the Great War to America left her knowing that she was ordained for an extraordinary life. She didn’t, though, see the aching beauty of it, nor did she see the wretchedness or hardship that would continually dog her fate. But Sam Gentles saw all of Rosa’s life completely because he invented her for his novel. And Herb Thedal, the film director of Sam’s script, also saw Rosa precisely and with purpose. But can they shape their own chaotic lives with such resolution and comparable acts of faith? Though ambitious in its structure, and unconventional in its plot, Michael Kenyon’s novel is rewarding, resourceful story telling.

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