Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Tim Hortons, again

I can't stop myself from collecting literary passages referencing Tim Hortons. And I don't even drink coffee. Seven previous posts can be found via this link. My latest roundup includes poetry, fiction and nonfiction.

The first thing Mr Chung did was show Dad and Mom how to make coffee. This, he told them, was the most important thing he would teach them. It was 1976, before the proliferation of Starbucks or Tim Hortons. When people wanted coffee, they either made it at home, or bought it at cafes like his. Many of the regulars would only be here for the coffee, Mr Chung told them. (p 183)

- from Chop Suey Nation: The Legion Cafe and Other Stories from Canada's Chinese Restaurants by Ann Hui


    autumn 15 years later, without answer, he is speeding
seated, shot on a chrome greyhound
    through golden farmlands at sunset, pink
and orange beams streaming between leaves
    scattering shadows across the directionless
    an asphalt strip
divides the foothills, drives forward and back
    between pasts and futures, wow and flutters
thru towns inhabited by baseball caps and
    plaid shirts, by tim hortons, by belt-buckles
clinked locked above zippered wranglers, by ford
    pickups raising dust on old-boy back roads, abandoned
barns angled with the wind, cowboy hats adrift atop
    the rye grasses, fence posts bound by barb wire
wooden churches whose doors open onto fire
    and boredom        i was wondering whether your writing
is haunted by place, does place matter (p 66)

-from Magnetic Equator by Kaie Kellough


"We all slip," Phil said.
It was more of a bungee jump into hell, Jared thought, but he smiled, felt the fakeness of it, let it collapse.
Still, if it got him out of the hospital, he was happy to pretend that he'd ended up naked and dehydrated in the basement of his mom's old house because he'd fallen off the wagon in a big way.
His dad asked him if he needed help dressing.
"No," Jared said.
"Okay." Phil put a plastic grocery bag of clothes and a pair of polished black dress shoes on the bed near Jared's feet. "I'm going to grab a coffee from Timmies. Want anything, kiddo?"
"Uh, sure," Jared said. "Double double please."

- from Return of the Trickster by Eden Robinson


in no particular order I'd like to take a moment to show gratitude to the following: Beyonce. bobby pins. peanut m&ms. the moon. coffee. Seawitch fish & chips. the tv show Steven Universe. flowers. fast-moving clouds. coconut water. Whitney Houston. the state of Kentucky. John Mayer. Moleskin notebooks. doctors. grey t-shirts. the movie Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. rocks, especially quartz. my favourite mug with Zac Efron's face on it. green juice. bonnaroo. Timbits. peppermint tea. cooking shows of all kinds. books. Ford Escapes. crispy m&ms. bananas. the Toronto Blue Jays. the TTC. mini dachshunds. the internet. Jimmy's Coffee. & baristas everywhere. (p 75)

- from the acknowledgments in Depression and Other Magic Tricks by Sabrina Benaim


Three days after leaving Amsterdam, I flew to Saskatoon, two cities that share the same latitude, although not much else. In Saskatoon, the words coffee shop are inextricably linked to Tim Hortons. In Amsterdam, coffee shop means marijuana cafe. (p 135)

- from Happily Ever Older: Revolutionary Approaches to Long-Term Care by Moira Welsh


Mëxate Kishux (Deep Snow Moon)

Four railcars parked
on dead-end track. Faded mural
mirrors dirty snow.

Over grey mounds,
sultry scraped snow,
rat drags Timbit box.

River ice reflects Detroit.
Gull pivots between borders
cries into bitter air.

Beneath black oaks,
elderberries dance atop
snow. Western breath.

Through fogged window
indigo surges around OPEN
sign. Man carves shawarma.

Cattails upright before
cold front, man spreads
salt on bare road.

Sky blue cut ice
glistens above cloud
bank of fresh snow.

Against paper cup
sweet muddy coffee burns
fingers. Week begins.

- from Tùkhòne: Where The River Narrows And Shores Bend by DA Lockhart

Thanks to Naomi over at Consumed by Ink for alerting me to this last one. A review of DA Lockhart's collection (and this poem) can be found online in Miramichi Reader:

Saturday, May 8, 2021

A Mischief of Mongooses

Either a 'business' or a 'rush' can be used as a collective noun for mongooses. 'Mischief' is used for mice or rats, but literary mongooses are sneaky enough to merit that term too. Mongooses made unexpected appearances in five books that I read over the past week. For that reason, I decided to listen to a mongoose story on purpose: Rudyard Kipling's 'Rikki-Tikki-Tavi' ... bringing my number up to six. I hope you enjoy this half-dozen collection of passages, a literary mischief of mongooses.

I'll start with Rudyard Kipling's description of Rikki-tikki:

    He was a mongoose, rather like a little cat in his fur and his tail, but quite like a weasel in his head and his habits.

(By the way, I don't recommend listening to the rest of the Naxos audiobook Rikki-Tikki-Tavi and Other Stories because Kipling's imperialism and racism are in full evidence, such as calling the Aleut unclean people in 'The White Seal.')

The book that started my mongoose streak is Helen Oyeyemi's surrealist novel, Peaces. In it, Otto and Xavier Shin are a gay couple on a non-honeymoon honeymoon train journey with their pet mongoose, Arpad. (Another passenger happens to also have a pet mongoose.)

    I didn't meet Honza's friends, and I didn't get to introduce him to mine; the plans kept falling through at the last minute. Arpad didn't like him, but then Xavier Shin is the only boyfriend of mine Arpad has ever shown enthusiasm for. I could tell from the first night Xavier stayed over at my place that we were in a new era of acceptance; in the morning there Xavier's shoes were, exactly where he'd left them by the door... unchewed and unshat in.
    Honza didn't like Arpad either... I remember he never referred to Arpad by name; it was always "your friend the stoat," "that marten that aspires to mongoosehood," or "the vicious ferret." 

Next up is a despised mongoose in Trinidad, in Ingrid Persaud's memorable novel Love After Love:

    --And you used to have chickens. You still have any?
    --Nah, man. Long time now I stop minding fowl. Too much trouble. Mongoose thiefing the egg and all kind of thing. Take something to drink, nah. You must be thirsty after that long drive.

Then a desire for a mongoose in Thailand, from Brian Brett's vibrant memoir Tuco: The Parrot, the Others, and a Scattershot World:

    Thom called us outside out room and informed us the staff had spotted a king cobra swimming to the raft house, and they'd spent the last day searching for it it no avail. He also said they were worried because they had important guests arriving, and the last thing they needed was a king cobra arising out of the reeds of the raft house. I told him they needed a mongoose or a peacock to deal with the problem. We laughed and left ourselves to our fate.

A mongoose comparison was made by the bedevilled writer enduring his two-month residency at a Canadian shopping mall in Pasha Malla's nightmarish Kill the Mall:

    No, my goal was not personal revelation but to lull the mall into complacency while I marshalled my forces and wits and prepared to strike -- like the mongoose as it seized the ponytail-shaped cobra by the throat and chomped right through to its bitter, snaky bones.

A side mention was made of the etymology of 'mongoose' during a lesson on Dravidian languages in John McWhorter's Languages Families of the World:

    Telugu is barely known beyond India, you may never have heard of it, but actually it is one of the 20 largest languages in the world. And, the word 'mongoose' is from Telugu. I knew somebody who went to India once, one of those people who, you know, goes places just so he can say that he goes places, and picks up women. He went to India and came back and he was talking about having seen the mongeese. And after a while I realized that he meant that straight. He really thought the plural of mongoose was mongeese. (Is it?)
(my transcription from The Great Courses audiobook, read by the author)

And one final quote from Kipling's 'Rikki-Tikki-Tavi':

    It is the hardest thing in the world to frighten a mongoose, because he is eaten up from nose to tail with curiosity. The motto of all the mongoose family is "Run and find out," and Rikki-tikki was a true mongoose.