SEASONS OF DISCONTENT (Lion's Head Press, 2015. 297 pp. $20. Available from the publisher, from bookstores, or get it HERE)
General distribution by Ingram Book Services.
Trevor Sawler on SEASONS OF DISCONTENT. Nashwaak Review, vol 34-35 (2016).
"I was quickly drawn into Walt Macbride’s world, and it took only a few pages to realize why this character is so popular among Fraser’s readers.... It is the seamless transition between philosophy and humour, between the sublime and the earthy, that makes Walt such an engaging character, and that makes this novel so enjoyable." TREVOR SAWLER, Nashwaak Review
"I didn't think there could be a better book than Fraser's In Another Life, but Seasons of Discontent is as good if not better." EUGENE PETERS, Essayist & Critic
"Fraser's best writing ever! (and that is saying a lot)." NEIL TONER, Librarian, UNB
SEASONS OF DISCONTENT: A Non-review.
By Eugene Peters
Monday, October 5, 2015
Discontent comes in many unpleasant flavors. There is the more static, passive forms of discontent, like apathy, lethargy, and just the general feeling of malaise. All thought and no action. Analysis paralysis. Then there is the more active, dynamic manifestations of discontent which might include irritability, aggression, open hostility, all perhaps inevitably leading to even violence. In Raymond Fraser’s incomparably bold and unique writing style, "Seasons of Discontent" touches on it all.
As a sequel to the author’s best-known novels, "The Bannonbridge Musicians" and "In Another Life", the book recounts the continuing adventures of Walt Macbride. If it is safe to assume that the novel is essentially autobiographical (one IS never quite certain where Macbride ends off and Fraser begins) then we can know that Raymond Fraser is invariably self-deprecating in his resolute willingness to reveal his own very human vulnerabilities and shortcomings, as he explores the perhaps more paltry side of our nature. And he does so with unwavering humor. In fact, Fraser’s frequently dark and disturbing discourse would be most unnerving (being discontent is a most dreary ordeal) if it were not at once hilarious. Fraser runs us through the emotional gamut while simultaneously tickling our fancy and our funny bone. With a writing quill in hand, he applies the ink end to paper while slyly holding the feather to our most ticklish places. It works. It is next to impossible to read his work without grinning till it hurts.
"Seasons of Discontent" is no exception - so much so that it would be most difficult to write a review that would even come close to doing the book justice. So I have decided not to do so. It would likely prove to be a futile endeavor, for example, to relate one of the books most poignant moments: at the kitchen table between father and son, when Macbride/Fraser unsuccessfully attempts to have meaningful conversation with his Dad. One might be foolishly compelled to take a presumptuous and dubious foray into the convoluted world of psycho-analysis and say things like: If books are written and read so that we can know we are not alone, one could say (I don’t know if one should) that "Seasons of Discontent" is a one-sided dialog or disclosure to his father. The Ego talking to the Super ego, conscious to preconscious, adult to parent. “Dad, this is who I am, who I was, and who I might always be. This is my life. How do you like me now?”
But that just wouldn’t do.
If I were to write a review, I would certainly have to include at least one of the books many intriguing digressions and delightful diversions. Like a hyperactive writer without his insulin, there are many “Look, a squirrel!” type of pleasant interruptions In the midst of the very depths of discontent is this gem:
“The robin plays with the worm like a cat with a mouse. He gives it a few tugs, then lets go his hold, pausing to pose awhile. You might think he’s forgotten about it, but this carelessness is only an act; he knows what he is doing, and soon has the worm out and shaking it about in his beak. After it’s had a good shake he sets it down and hold himself erect again for the cameras. And when the pictures are all taken he swallows the worm and stands again as though nothing has happened. All in a days work.”
You have to like that.
In writing a review, one might also find himself saying cute but rather silly things like, “The book is peppered with poetry and the plaintive yearnings of all men.” Stuff like that. The book is also doused with Macbride’s ongoing struggle with alcoholic drinking, but when it comes to the battle of the booze, one would do well to read "Rum River" - there is no better book describing the nitty-gritty of being in an alcoholic haze. It is the hard copy. What William S. Burroughs’s novel "Junky" is to heroin addiction, Raymond Fraser’s "Rum River" is to alcoholism. But that would be another book.
"Seasons of Discontent" takes us through Macbride’s worry and deliberation about the prospect of going to work as a teacher and his year of giving it a try. It is quite an adventure and a genuinely deep study of discontent and indecisiveness. All in a days work. He was just paying his dues. The only true way to give this book its due is to read it.
It’s due time.
ARTS EAST Author Interview (June 22, 2015)
FROM BROKENJAW PRESS, 2013
BLISS was launched October 26, 2013, at Saltwater Sounds in Chatham, NB, and November 20 at Westminster Books in Fredericton. Great turnouts in both places. For more information on the book go here: Broken Jaw Press
Signing BLISS at Saltwater Sounds.
"Fraser writes so well, with clarity, concision, and an understanding of what life and the world are all about." ROBERT HAWKES, poet
Click here for ArtsEast interview about BLISS.
(photo by Keith Minchin, 2008)
THE MADNESS OF YOUTH by Raymond Fraser. Novel. Lion's Head Press, 2011. 302 pp. Publisher's list price: $24.95 paperback (ISBN 9780986518355); $39.95 hardcover (ISBN 9780986518348). Special price here: $19.95 pb & $35.95 hc (plus $4 shipping).
Set in the Maritimes and Montreal, "The Madness Of Youth" unearths the disreputable past of a respected poetry-writing librarian... An unforgettable view of wayward youth in the early Sixties.
"I'll go out on a limb and say The Madness Of Youth is the best writing Fraser has ever done ... There are great gobs of sadness, original comic touches and just the right blend of plot and narrative comments to make this a huge pleasure to read and a learning experience to boot. Fraser has always "owned" the restless, wandering Maritimer as a fictional character, but this complex, exasperating 'split personality character Quann' and the believable world(s) created for him is a real coup. There are so many fresh and honest insights into relationships that I haven't come across before in fiction. And having lived in 1960s Montreal – he's nailed that one solidly .... Great job!" – PHIL DESJARDINS, Philip Desjardins Productions, Toronto
"Finished The Madness Of Youth last week – wanted to make it last longer, but couldn't stop turning the pages!" – PAUL DUPLESSIE
"Terrific book!" – DOUG SUTHERLAND, Filmmaker
"The prose style and choice of words are truly amazing." – ROBERT HAWKES, Poet & Professor Emeritus (UNB)
"Fraser's best book yet, in my opinion." – WAYNE CURTIS, author
"One hell of a read." – CHARLES BOLAN
THE TRIALS OF BROTHER BELL by Raymond Fraser.
Lion's Head Press, 2010. Two novels, Repentance Vale and The Struggle Outside. 272 pp. $23.95 softcover (ISBN 9780986518317). $41.95 hardcover (ISBN 9780986518324). Special price here: $17.95 softcover (plus $4 shipping); $39.95 hardcover (plus $4 shipping).
"Represents the best in contemporary satire. Outrageously funny.” Aaron Michelson, BEST SELLERS, New York.
"Exuberant, comic, with a satiric edge frequently bordering on absurdist fantasy." LINDA SANDLER, Saturday Night
"Peppered with well-honed wit and a biting satire, "The Trials of Brother Bell" reaffirms Fraser’s renown as a no-nonsense storyteller." STEPHEN PATRICK CLARE
"I`ve never read anything like it. Brilliant!" NEIL TONER, Librarian
"Absolutely hilariously funny... Farce is not easy to sustain, but Raymond Fraser can mix the absurdities of humanity into fine, plausible fiction. Repentance Vale and The Struggle Outside are dramas of intense dimension." MICHAEL O. NOWLAN, The Gleaner
REPENTANCE VALE by Raymond Fraser.
Novel. Lion's Head Press, 2011. 140 pp. $16.95
In this satiric tale of neo-gothic horror, Haliberton "Bertie" Beaumont, heir to the Beaumont shipping fortune, schemes to seduce the pretty young daughter of Matthias Gogg, a fundamentalist religious fanatic who secretly believes in human sacrifice...
"There's no other writer quite like Raymond Fraser. His style is absolutely fascinating." – CORA LILLIAN HUDSON
IN ANOTHER LIFE by Raymond Fraser.
Lion's Head Press, 2009. 304 pp. ISBN 978-0-9686034-8-2. Publisher's list price: $24.95. Special price here: $16.95 (+ $6.05 shipping)
IN ANOTHER LIFE
Reviewed by Eugene Peters
Sept 12, 2011
"This is Raymond Fraser's best book to date – and I like them all. It is not only his best book so far but very well likely the best book I have ever read. To me it is a great story mostly about young romantic love gone terribly bad. The story takes you many places but keeps coming back to the "madness of youth" (incidentally, the name of Fraser's more recent novel) that can render beautiful possibilities into frustrating horror. The selfishness, the appalling lack of effective social skills, inability to communicate ones feelings effectively – all common to youth, especially young people "in love" – all come into play in this book. It is a wild, sad ride. Unlike David Adams Richards' melancholy works, Fraser's books are laced through with humour that makes for a more palatable read."
"IN ANOTHER LIFE is heart-warming and heart-wrenching all at once. It's the real deal, a genuine masterpiece of storytelling, sadly beautiful, and perhaps Fraser's finest work to date." — STEPHEN PATRICK CLARE, The Book Club, Halifax
"A beautifully wrought story, tragic, poignant and full of rich detail. It's just masterful." — ROBERT LECKER, Greenshields Professor of English, McGill University
"It's a fabulous read, will tear your guts out." — CYNTHIA SURETTE
"You don't come across a book like this very often. For me it was un-put-down-able. It's one great piece of work." — LOUIS CORMIER
"I was so impressed with this book. Such insight, such tenderness, such humour. Although a lot of it is tragic it's also very funny. I was laughing my head off page after page. A poignant and in-depth revelation of the angst of growing up — or not!" — HILARY PRINCE
"I can't find words to describe just how extraordinary I think this novel is... It's been a long time since I've read a book that really gets inside a man's head. It's a triumph in making characters come alive (I fell deeply in love with Corinne!). It's a great Canadian novel." — PHILIP DESJARDINS,Philip Desjardins Productions, Toronto
"Truly a wonderful read — a poignant, sweet and painful love story. I loved Macbride's struggle to be his own person, when in reality he was a lost child. The girl Corrine was his mirror image. I will be recommending it highly." — MARILEE PITTMAN
"I kept it beside my bed and took a long time to read it because I didn't want it to end. I loved every well-placed word of it." — NOREEN MALLORY HOOD
"A masterfully crafted novel set against the plush Miramichi River region of the 1950's and 1960's. Wily Fredericton scribe Raymond Fraser proves again why he is one of Atlantic Canada's finest writers with the beautiful and haunting tragic-comedy of one boy's rise to prominence in his community and his slow descent into the throes of alcoholism. IN ANOTHER LIFE is a powerful and poignant story that will capture the minds and hearts of readers. Think Catcher in the Rye meets Hemingway and Bukowski." — LEAP MAGAZINE
"In Another Life is funny, sad and always humane. What sets it apart from almost all other novels is the flow of the writing. I read through 80 pages without realizing it, it’s so hard to put down. It says things with precise and delicate care, and with a great sense of humour.” — ERIC MYERS
Salty Ink, 2009
RAYMOND FRASER: ATLANTIC CANADA'S MAN OF THE MONTH
By Chad Pelley
“A highly original voice.” – The Vancouver Sun
“One of the most gifted writers I know.” – Alden Nowlan
“The best literary voice to come belling out of the Maritimes in decades.” – Farley Mowatt
New Brunswick’s Raymond Fraser got started early. In his Jr. year at St. Thomas University he was co-editor for the student literary magazine Tom-Tom. At 25, living in Montreal, he and Leroy Johnson founded the literary magazine: Intercourse: Contemporary Canadian Writing. And this ambition and talent led to one of the most remarkable careers of any Atlantic Canadian author, and resulted, just this month, in his being awarded the inaugural Lieutenant-Governor’s Award for High Achievement in English Literary Arts, a $20,000 award “designed to recognize the outstanding contribution of individuals to the arts.”
Here is a chunk of text from the press release for the award: “I felt it in my bones quite early, the desire to be a writer. At fourteen I decided maybe writing would too dull – thought I’d live an exciting life for a while, and then write when I was older." However by the time the Chatham boy turned 17, Fraser’s mind was made up, and New Brunswick’s cultural life is the richer for it.
Moreover, in the recently released gem, Atlantic Canada’s Top 100 Books, Fraser ties with the likes of literary icons David Adams Richards and Wayne Johnston for the author with the most titles in the list. Five. That’s quite an honour. Fraser has written 7 works of poetry, 2 biographies, a memoir, and compiled the anthology East of Canada. He has just released his eighth novel, In Another Life.
TWO QUICK QUESTIONS FOR RAYMOND FRASER
Do you have a favourite work that you have written, or a least favourite, or does it not work that way for you, is each its own?
I don’t have a “least favourite” among my books, although there are a few poems in the early poetry books I’m not crazy about (I made sure not to include these in my selected poems, “Before You’re A Stranger”). As for a favourite book, I have to say my latest, IN ANOTHER LIFE. I put more of myself and more work into it than any of the others, and when I read it over to give it a final touching up this past winter I could see I’d done as good a job as I was able to do and was glad I’d stuck with it.
What stands out as one or two highlights from your career?
I don’t think it’s the highlights that were important in my writing years so far but the lowlights, the near-darknesses, and making it through those times and being the better for it. For instance, getting off the booze in 1982 which gave me a second go at life and writing, when I thought both were finished; and then, in the following years, going through a lot of frustrations and self-doubts before finally getting things sorted out through assorted self-revelations.