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Cover for Issue 66

» #66 on newsstands now!

subTerrain #66 (This Carnival Life) features new fiction from Brock Peters, Martin West, Dina Lyuber, Gary Barwin, Sandra Alland, and Jordan Turner; poetry from Amber McMillan, Terry Trowbridge, klipschutz and Jen Currin; commentary from Peter Babiak, Karl Siegler, Brian Palmu and Matt Hern; plus the winning entries in the 2013 Lush Triumphant Literary Awards: Janet Trull (Fiction), Connor Doyle (Poetry) and Aaron Chan (Creative Nonfiction) and a fresh batch of discerning reviews of new books by Lynn Coady, Michael Blouin, Peter Culley, Lorraine York, Slavoj Zizek, Sarah Liss, Stephanie Dickinson, Russell Thornton and Mark Leiren-Young.

Cover and illustrations by Brit Bachmann.

» Fiction


One day they were standing outside the annoying theatre where they worked, smoking a horrible menthol cigarette they’d bummed off a horrible patron, when a pale guy with black spiked hair, black acid wash jeans and a black Metallica T-shirt came up to them and said in an almost undetectable Scottish accent, “You look cool. Want tae run away with the circus?”

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The Phantom

They’re cutting it off, my uncle Randy barks over the phone. First his ball, then his lung. Now his goddamned leg. The poor bastard.

The poor bastard, I say. Not that I feel all that bad about my old man’s dying leg or his missing ball, but it seems like the right thing to say.

We’re having a going away party for it at the hospital, he says. The night before they lop the miserable thing off. Clear up to his goddamned hip. You should be there.

Which one? I ask.

St. Mary’s, what the hell other hospital is there?

No, which leg?

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We Are a Rupture That Cannot Be Contained

At first it was just oil that leaked from the ruptured pipe at the bottom of the ocean, so we didn’t work that hard to stop it. We tried to plug it with garbage, with boatloads of debris scooped out of one of the great floating garbage patches in the ocean. We thought maybe we could recycle the problem away. But the pressure just forced the garbage back out, an underwater geyser of everything we’d discarded and forgotten.

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» Creative Non-Fiction

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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Quiet Pipelines

“I’m not sure what I’m supposed to be saying to you guys. What do you want to know? I just found out what this was a few minutes ago. Pretty sad, isn’t it? Not good. It’s not good where I come from too. Actually, I’m from Fort Chip. I was working in the oil industry for about eight years. And I just got diagnosed with cancer this year. So I’m battling for my life right now. I got diagnosed with breast cancer.”

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Illo for Working in Steep Ditches Working In Steep Ditches

So why did I go again? Couldn’t tell you. Actually I could tell you. I could tell you it’s because I woke up and I knew it would be a good day. That after the free hockey tickets, the overtime comeback, and the smile from the cute girl on the train, I knew it would be a good night. I could tell you it’s because I was due. No one runs so bad for so long. Maybe I’d run cold again, but I wasn’t going to run bad. My favourite, the one that always gets me moving, is that I’d only stay a couple hours, till two at the latest, and then I’d go. Right. This time for sure though.

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« strong voices »

31st Annual Western Magazine Award Winners!

Congratulations to Lee Kvern (Winner, Fiction Category) for “Detachment” and Carl Wiens (Winner, Best Illustration) for his illustration for “Detachment”, featured in subTerrain #61. The awards were presented at the Renaissance Vancouver Hotel Harbourside on June 21st. Congratulations to all the winners and finalists!

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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The Harper Conservatives and Their Dirty Oil Pipeline

There is always a balance to be struck between driving “development” and protecting the “environment.” Despite the present government’s claim that their new legislation will provide both increased development and protection of the environment, it is obvious that their legislative initiatives are moving Canada toward more development and less environmental regulation & assessment. Whether that is good or not is a political question, of course, but here are some of the particulars.

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Lush 2013 Winners!

The winning entries in the 2013 Lush Triumphant Literary Awards are:


Janet Trull (Ancaster, ON) for "Hot Town"

Runner-up: Adam Elliott Segal (Toronto, ON) for "Richard"



Connor Doyle (Surrey, BC) for "Under-City"

Runner-up: Raoul Fernandes (Vancouver, BC) for "Silence Splashing Everywhere"


Creative Non-fiction:

Winner: Aaron Chan (Vancouver, BC) for "A Case of Jeff"


The winning entries appear in Issue #66 (Winter 2013). The 12th Annual Lush Triumphant Awards competition is now open (click the link at the top of the page!)

All entrants receive a complimentary one-year subscription to subTerrain magazine.



Better Than Evens

At the opening of Samuel Beckett’s 1953 tragicomedy, Waiting for Godot, we see two “tramps,” Estragon (Gogo) and Vladimir (Didi), waiting beside a dead tree on a desolate country road. They are waiting for a man to arrive, a man named Godot. They appear to have bet the farm on this chance meeting and are down to their last carrot and turnip, their clothes and shoes worn to tatters.

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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.