Book launch to take place April 19 at Regina’s Creative City Centre
From the launch of the first sentence in his debut collection of fictional short stories, The Adirondack Haystack Still Floats, Regina author Nicholas Olson seems to be rooted within reoccurring flashes of Americana, sports, near-alcoholism, and questionable behaviour.
Having previously written and self-published a collection of essays, To Call Them To Wander – in addition to his feature “World Crokinole Championship – The Great Paternal Experiment” published by Ominocity, Olson’s newest work takes a step away from the pointed arguments and advice. Instead, he writes with the flexibility of having stories with a moral, and stories that are just there.
“I ever show you how to break a man’s wrist, thumb, and collarbone at once?” So goes the first breath of The Adirondack Haystack Still Floats.
It’s this sense of vaguely threatening, unhinged action that quickly becomes the focal point of Olson’s characters that permeate the various stories throughout. It’s also what makes many of them oddly fascinating and, at times, slightly familiar – is it a coincidence that all the characters seem to be preoccupied with sports?
“I’ve never done anything on purpose in my life, especially when it comes to writing, and if I lose credibility or legitimacy because of that, so be it,” says Olson in an interview with Ominocity. “A third of the way through writing the stories for this collection I realized that all the characters were tied by their economic status, among other things. A lot of the book was written on a bus trip, so my thoughts were soaked in the beautiful grunge of the Greyhound Bus depots and characters were inspired accordingly.
“Patriotism, sports, drinking, fucked up thought processes are how most people deal with the boredom that is life, myself included, and I felt that this group of people who is usually overlooked is really worth looking at.”
Despite the similarities, the characters in Olson’s writings come from a highly dissimilar background. In the story “South Coast to North Border” we shadow a Mexican surfer, obsessed over “futbol” amidst a dusty-yet-colourful Latin American backdrop, who becomes the victim of an ugly, seemingly random crime. While in “Cancelled Due to Plague” we get a glimpse inside the life of a hockey-loving mercurial academic who spins hopelessly out of control until completely unraveled.
Olson’s writing flows promptly and naturally but never leaves you scrambling, while his dialogue gives the characters subtle, yet colourful, nuances.
“It is a study of twelve characters who would generally be considered pretty mundane, but I attempted to show what is normally considered mundane as imperative and important,” says Olson. “The working class seems mundane through the lens of wealth and celebrity worship, but it is this ‘class’ of people that will be the catalyst behind any sort of social change. A focus needs to shift from the politicians and their scandals, the celebrities and their bullshit, to the normal, blue-collar or unemployed 65-year-old that has been your neighbour for five years. Having a relationship with a person you normally wouldn’t will change your perspective greatly. I tried to show this through the relationships in the book.”
With the book launch taking place on April 19 at Creative City Centre, Regina, Olson has also brought in folk-group Foxwarren, whom he credits with helping him through the process of writing The Adirondack Haystack Still Floats.
“Foxwarren is composed of a few really good friends and some of my favourite musicians in Regina,” says Olson. “I talked through a lot of my writing process with a few of them, discussing the parallels between the creation of music and literature, and we came to many of the same conclusions regarding the editing processes, and drawing the lines of perfectionism versus the benefits of a good raw cut.
“I also sent a few of them versions of my stories hoping to get feedback but never really did. So in return I am making them play for free, though the suckers might think they’re getting paid.”