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Cover for issue #77

» #77 on newsstands now!

subTerrain #77 — The Interview Issue — is out!
#77 features conversations with Caroline Adderson, André Alexis, David Beers, Trevor Carolan, Emmanuel Carrère, Douglas Coupland, Charles Demers, Zsuzsi Gartner, Laura Kipnis, Jeff Kirby, Jen Sookfong Lee, Emily St. John Mandel, Linda McQuaig, Maureen Medved, and Maurice Spira with columns by Jim Christy and Matthew Firth.


Plus reviews of new books by Kaveh Akbar, Lori McNulty, Jen George, Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, Len Gasparini, Erika Rummel, J.C. Villamere, Daniel Zomparelli, Monica Meneghetti and Arnaud Delalande (translated by David Homel, with illustrations by Eric Liberge).

» Fiction

Small, Malicious Planet

What were the odds? Her? Here?

Wexler has long forgotten her real name. When he dreams her, she’s either Catherine T., or the-most-beautiful-girl-in-the-world-you-just-want-to-take-home-and-scrub-clean. Because the last time Wexler saw her, almost twenty years ago now, there had been something distinctly cruddy about her despite that face, stunning with its origami angles and inset with otherworldly eyes that gave her the look of a startled Japanese anime character — Sailor Moon as squeegee kid.

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The Coyote Bride

At night the coyotes run through the hydro field behind our house.

This never used to happen. These packs of mangy, skinny dogs used to live on the outskirts of town, west of Kalar Road in the vast stretch of scrub bush that separates Niagara Falls from St. Catharines. This area was a void, a no man’s land, but now it is gone. Now it is subdivisions, twisting crescents of newly paved roads and prefabricated houses that mark the flat land like a string of chicken pox. These subdivisions have no trees, no telephone poles, and no hydro lines. Everything is hidden, the necessities of civilization conveniently buried so that the neighbourhoods resemble a scrupulous facsimile of existence. At night, when it is clear, one can see across town. The hotels and casinos stand like a neon Avalon rising out of the mist of the falls.

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Nine Murderers Look at a Lake

She’d read that the skin was the body’s largest organ, that it could easily weigh fourteen pounds, and imagined it folded like a blanket, a wetsuit, or a flap of tripe. She put her hands to her face and explored the contours of her bone structure, tracing the ridge of her nose, the span of her cheekbones, the shallow depressions at her temples. She moved her fingers around to the bumps behind her ears then slid them across the wall of her brow, moving the skin and feeling its slippage over the bone.

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» Creative Non-Fiction

Youth Laid Waste

When I was a teenager I skipped school so much I’d get taken aside by my teachers and told I’d missed the most school of anyone in the history of our little Montreal-West, public-for-smart-kids prep school.

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The Pavilion

For weeks I have been disappearing to The Bunny Room in our basement in order to get high on cough medicine. My two rabbits, Marcello and Caravaggio, have become my sole connections to the living world, to any flesh and blood creature.

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Halfway to Happiness

In my apartment taped to the fridge is a photograph I took in the summer of 1989 on the west Coast of Ireland. In it is the form of my father—now more than twenty years gone—middle-aged, stooped, overweight, nearly a shadow, walking away from the camera into the blue-green water, the only human figure on a vast, empty beach.

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« strong voices »

Lush 2017 Contest

We are pleased to announce the winning entries in our 2017 Lush Triumphant Literary Awards.


Fiction winner
Drift, maybe fall by Brent van Staalduinen (Hamilton, ON)
Fiction runner-up
Let Her Cry by Emily Rossi (Etobicoke, ON)


Poetry winner
A Short History of Childbirth in North America by Adrienne Gruber (Vancouver, BC)
Poetry runner-up
Eye Movements by Matthew Hollett (St. John’s, NFLD)


Creative non-fiction winner
The Indian Act by Mikka Jacobsen (Calgary, AB)
Creative non-fiction runner-up
Reading Wuthering Heights by Madeline Sonik (Victoria, BC)


The winning entries will be published in our Winter Issue, #78 (December). We thank you all for submitting your work and for your patience during the lengthy adjudication process!
— The Editors.


#Resistance150: A Conversation

“Hello, Canada. Tonight has been a hundred and fifty years in the making.”

With his earnest eyes and that well-tailored smile, The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau speaks to Canadians through a YouTube video on the Canada 150 website. The occasion is New Year’s Eve, 2016. With Confederation’s sesquicentennial looming on July 1st, this year has been rebranded by the government as #Canada150.

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Zero Street? Where Are We?

In the fall of 1994 we had been in our new offices in the Lee Building at the intersection of Main & Broadway for close to three years. The old office was above Guys & Dolls Billiards, across the street, and was sort of funky. But the new premises were more impressive. Cleaner and seemingly more organized.

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Mr. Pink Schools Us on Good Cover Design

You don’t work for a literary magazine for the money. You work for a literary magazine for the fringe benefits. And one of the advantages of working for a magazine like subTerrain is getting to attend a professional development symposium—you know, for free.

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Gritty Terrain

Before Vancouver’s Main Street became a Portlandia branch plant there really wasn’t much reason to spend any time on its sidewalks. There were no single-origin coffee shops, craft-beer meccas or faux rec-room restaurants. With the noble exception of Neptoon records, and a couple of places along Antiques Row, it wasn’t much of a shopping destination either. No shops trumpeting local designers, organic materials, locally sourced handicrafts and oddball wares. Twee was pretty much absent on Main back then. Irony too.

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On Value

For those lucky enough to have survived it, the worst thing that happened in the 20th century was the malaise that defined it: the ubiquitous and relentless attempt of every political power to terminate public discourse, as reaffirmed by Mikhail Gorbachev and George H.W. Bush at the Malta summit on December 3, 1989. Only weeks before, the world had witnessed the fall of the Berlin wall, as West and East Germans engaged in a spontaneous populist movement to tear down the symbolic barrier that had divided not only them, but also the rest of the world.

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A Few Thoughts On subTerrain’s Origins and Intent

subTerrain started out as a dream, an idea of literary rebellion, a shadow-self calling out to be born. It was 1988, the nascent days of desktop publishing, and truly a transitional period in the world of print. For the first time in the history of printing, the means of production were actually in the hands of the masses. Armed with only a Personal PC, a “typesetting” software program (not some expensive commercial typesetting equipment such as a Compugraphic machine) and a laser printer, virtually anyone could produce a professional looking publication.

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subTerrain gratefully acknowledges the support of our funders: The BC Arts Council, The Canada Council for the Arts, the Canada Periodical Fund (Department of Canadian Heritage), and the City of Vancouver.