JOHNSTON, Sean




Author Tags: Fiction

Sean Johnston of Vancouver was born in Saskatoon and grew up in Asquith, Saskatchewan. He worked in the prairies as a labourer and surveyor, received a Bachelor of Journalism at Carleton University in Ottawa, and completed an MA in Creative Writing at the University of New Brunswick. His manuscript for A Day Does Not Go By won the 2002 David Adams Richards Award for fiction. It later received a ReLit Award.

He lives in Kelowna, BC, where he co-edits Ryga: A Journal of Provocations and teaches at Okanagan College.

Long after Jack Schaefer’s 1949 Western novel Shane was made into a famous 1953 movie starring Alan Ladd and Jean Arthur, and the boy Joey was heard shouting, “Shane! Come back!” as the wounded her rides away from Cemetery Hill, Shane has come back—sort of. Sean Johnston has picked up the story and imagined its continuance through the life of a young boy named Billy on a North Dakota ranch with his lonely mother and wheelchair-ridden father in Listen All You Bullets (Gaspereau $27.95). We meet a traveling bookseller one year after the gunslinger’s disappearance, and a Métis girl from Saskatchewan. 9781554471294

According to publicity materials: "Sean Johnston sets out to explore the possibilities of a story’s resistance to its own arrested afterlife. While the popular film and television renderings of Shane safely respect our expectations of the genre, Johnston’s playful and poetic novel disrupts boundaries, breaking through the surface to suggest new meanings... Listen All You Bullets is about resistance, and the human impulse to hope in the midst of violence and distortion. It’s also about the fragility of both the material world we live in and the myths our lives are built upon. It is that rare kind of historical fiction that explores the complicity of the artist in the construction of popular history."

In the metafictions and flash fictions of Sean Johnston's collection We Don't Listen to Them (Thistledown 2014) we enter a world in which a bank teller will hand a patron his bank robber note. In some fiction, the fact that anything can happen justifies that it will happen.... In Johnston's follow-up to Listen All You Bullets (Gaspereau $27.95) he often veers into writing about writing. In one of his stories elaborate footnotes delineate the characters and their actions.

BOOKS:

A Day Does Not Go By (Nightwood, 2002)

All This Town Remembers (Gaspereau, 2006)

The Ditch Was Lit Like This (Thistledown, 2011)

Listen All You Bullets (Gaspereau 2013) $27.95 9781554471294

We Don't Listen to Them (Thistledown 2014) $18.95 978-1-927068-92-2

[BCBW 2014]

A Day Does Not Go By (Nightwood $16.95)
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Images appear like a Salvador Dali landscape in the story The Reporter and the Reporter. “Words hung in the air like murdered fish… He said I walked out of the fog one morning and slipped on a bloody ear…A boy without hands smiled at them, talking quickly.” A surrealist collection from a Vancouver author. 0-88971-190-9

[Spring 2003 BCBW]


ReLit Award (2003)
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The ReLit Awards (short for “Regarding Literature, Reinventing Literature, Relighting Literature” ) were founded in 2000 as an alternative to the big-money prizes. These awards are open to books published by independent Canadian literary publishers across Canada. On June 21, 2003, at a solstice bonfire in Patricia Bay--just outside of Victoria on Vancouver Island--in the company of writers and readers, Sean Johnston was announced as the winner of a ReLit Award for his debut collection of short stories, A Day Does Not Go By (Nightwood Editions, $16.95). Johnston, who was born and raised in Saskatchewan but has lived in Vancouver for the past two years, beat out other short fiction nominees Emily Schultz, Black Coffee Night (Insomniac Press), Richard Cumyn, The Obstacle Course (Oberon), and Corey Frost, My Own Devices (Conundrum Press). Peter Darbyshire won the ReLit Award in the novel category for Please (Raincoast Books), and Margaret Christako took home the poetry prize for her volume Excessive Love Prostheses (Coach House).

[BCBW 2003]