Clint Burnham is a Vancouver writer and teacher. Burnham is the author of numerous books, including Airborne Photo (1999), and The Jamesonian Unconscious (1995). His latest book, Smoke Show, a novel, was published by Arsenal Pulp Press in 2005. Burnham has written on such artists as Ian Wallace, Tim Lee, and Theodore Wan, and he is a freelance art critic for the Vancouver Sun.
Reading and Book Launch
December 4, 2005
“A doll is taped to the hood of a wedding car. A list of favourite cocktails from the eighties. Hide the drugs from your parents and your kids. Kevin Costner in Waterworld: hot or not?”
Smoke Show, published by Arsenal Pulp Press, is a novel that will astound readers with its audacious, stripped-down narrative set in the mid-nineties about assorted f**k-ups, diehards, and lost souls, seen through a hazy filter of bus fumes and cigarette smoke. Told in “real time,” Smoke Show is raw, candid, amorphous; told through jargon and petty dialogue commonly heard in the street or on public transit, Smoke Show is a novel told in conversation. It’s a dissonant, close-to-the bone explosion of everything and nothing at the same time, like watching a film whose sound does not match the images. In his debut novel, Clint Burnham evokes William Gaddis, David Foster Wallace, and Irvine Welsh, a trippy period piece that takes no prisoners.
Clint Burnham first wrote the manuscript for Smoke Show 10 years ago. “I wrote the book in 1995 and then lost the manuscript, not finding it again until late 2003. And since my writing is often ‘found’ dialogue and reads like that, this was like the ultimate extension of that concept: it’s as if I didn’t so much write the book myself (the ego of the author) but just found it. I’m interested in that idea of the author from Borges, or Barthes as just a function of the text.”