WALMSLEY, Tom




Author Tags: Alcohol, Fiction, Theatre

"I am tired of dying in slow motion." -- narrator, Honeymoon in Berlin

Tom Walmsley is the author of Doctor Tin, winning entry for the first Pulp Press 3-Day Novel Contest in 1979, a competition that has given rise to an original Canadian literary genre. Beyond British Columbia Walmsley is better known as a playwright and the screenwriter for Jerry Ciccoritti's film Paris, France (1993).

Born in Liverpool, England on December 13, 1948, Walmsley came to Canada in 1952 and was raised in Oshawa, Ontario, and Lorraine, Quebec. As a high-school dropout addicted to heroin and then alcohol, he persevered as a writer through three marriages. Walmsley gravitated to Vancouver and participated in the loose formation of Pulp Press among alienated literary intellectuals who, in retrospect, gelled under the direction of Stephen Osborne. Publisher Stephen Osborne, his brother Tom Osborne, Mary Beth Knechtel, Laura Lippert, D.M. Fraser and the permanently jaundiced antiquarian bookseller William Hoffer devised the Three-Day Novel Contest in the bar of the Piccadilly Hotel. This almost-annual literary contest, with publication as its prize, invites people from around the world to write and submit a novel written in three consecutive days. The 'Pulp' offices were located at 440 West Pender, near the Piccadilly Hotel, but were moved first to 572 Beatty Street, then to 986 Homer under the revised name of Arsenal Pulp Press.

Walmsley's novel Doctor Tin is a crazed detective-style rockumentary that tapers into confusion--evidently written in three days, as advertised--whereas subsequent winning entries are usually more polished from beginning to end. Although Walmsley relocated to Toronto, he continued to publish books from the West Coast. In addition to earlier poetry titles with Pulp Press and Doctor Tin (1979), he wrote a 'sequel of sorts', called Shades (The Whole Story of Doctor Tin), in 1992. It was originally going to be called The Bride of Doctor Tin. Critically panned as forceful but aimless, and once disparaged as 'common misanthropy,' it features a cynical, sex-obsessed detective named McGraw battling a masochistic murderer-rock star named A.J., his nemesis. In Walmsley's short novel Kids Stuff (Arsenal 2003 $24.95), youths escape smalltown doldrums by indulging in fantasy, violence, sex, alcohol and crime. In a somewhat similar vein, Walmsley wrote a collection of poetry illustrated by Sandy McClelland called Honeymoon in Berlin (Anvil Press, 2004) touted as a sex-sated and an 'utterly fearless riff'. A narrator named Jake discovers a woman on the Internet who incorporates defecation and desire. He travels to Berlin to find her. During his quest he morbidly explores deviant sex and the human fascination with limits.

Walmsley's breakthrough play as a dramatist, Something Red, premiered at the New Play Centre in Vancouver and was remounted at Tarragon Theatre in Toronto. His other plays include The Workingman (New Play Centre, 1975), The Jones Boy (Toronto Free Theatre, performed with The Workingman, 1977); White Boys (Tarragon, 1982,), Getting Wrecked (music by Micah Barnes, Theatre Direct, tour, 1985), mr. nice guy (with Dolly Reisman, 1985, Necessary Angel), Maxine (dance work performed in 1995 by Julia Sasso) and Blood (Factory Theatre, 1995), later published by Scirocco Press.

BOOKS:

Rabies - poetry
Lexington Hero (Pulp Press) - poetry
Doctor Tin (Pulp Press, 1979) - novel
Blood (Scirocco Press, 2000) - play
Shades (The Whole Story of Doctor Tin) (Arsenal, 1992) - novel
Kids Stuff (Arsenal, 2003 $24.95) - novel
Honeymoon in Berlin (Anvil, 2004) - poetry

[Alan Twigg / BCBW 2004] "3-Day"