Author Tags: Fiction

Karen X. Tulchinsky won the 1996 VanCity Book Prize for In Her Nature and her novel The Five Books of Moses Lapinsky was selected for the One Book, One Vancouver program and was shortlisted for the Toronto Book Awards.

Other works include Love Ruins Everything (Press Gang, 1998) and its sequel Love and Other Ruins (Polestar, 2002). Tulchinsky has edited numerous anthologies, such as the Hot & Bothered series of sex stories, and graduated from the writers' lab of the Canadian Film Centre in Toronto.

Her novel The Five Books of Moses Lapinsky (Polestar 2003 $34.95) is reviewed below.


VanCity Book Prize for In Her Nature, 1996

One Book One Vancouver 2008, The Five Books of Moses Lapinsky


In Her Nature, Women's Press, 1995
Love Ruins Everything, Press Gang, 1998
Love and Other Ruins, 2002
The Five Books of Moses Lapinsky, 2003, 2010.

Film/TV Writer/Story Editor

Writer/story editor: The Guard (Global TV)
Writer, Robson Arms, (CTV)
Writer/story editor, KINK, (Showcase)
Creative Consultant, Glutton For Punishment, (Food Network)
Writer, Floored By Love (City TV)

Feature Length Screenplays in Development:

Me and The Swastika Club (Ocular Productions)
Y Chromosome (Ocular Productions)
Miss Clanfield and the Manitoba Kid (Conquering Lion Productions)
Queer Times, half hour comedy TV series, (Submission Films)

[BCBW 2010] "Fiction" "VanCity"

Queer View Mirror 2 (Arsenal $19.95)

Edited by Karen X. Tulchinsky and James Johnstone, Queer View Mirror 2 (Arsenal $19.95) is a second collection of lesbian and gay short fiction, featuring 101 stories from around the globe.
In “Killing Arthur” by david michael gillis, Roger tells his lover of ten years that he is leaving him — for a woman. Their confrontation turns ugly when Arthur loosens his belt asking for “one last go around, for old times sake.” As the title suggests, things take an unexpected turn for the worse.
Diana calls up her mother with the intention of telling her that she's in love with a woman. Instead, she ends up putting off her news and asking for a recipe in “Chocolate Chip Cookies” by Karen Leduc.
In Gary Probe's “Pink Shag Triangle”, the narrator tries to tell his mother that he's gay. She ignores him and changes the topic. The title refers to the section of carpet in the family living room that is a few shades lighter than the rest — because the narrator's mother put vodka in the carpet cleaner's power vacuum.
Other B.C. writers in the collection include Larissa Lai, David Watmough, Persimmon Blackbridge, K. Linda Kivi and Karen Woodman. Queer View Mirror 2 is dedicated to the memory of Alan Alvare, Vancouver writer and grief counsellor who passed away in December 1996.

[BCBW 1997]

The Five Books of Moses Lapinsky (Polestar $34.95)

Middle-weight boxing champ Sonny Lapinsky was no angel—and his apartment had the marks to prove it. “There were holes in every wall,” recalls his son, Moses, “the exact size of my father’s fist.”

When an unauthorized biography of Sonny ‘The Charger’ Lapinsky goes too far, Moses decides to set the record straight. “The book, which is entitled Below the Belt,” Moses says, “characterizes my father as a womanizing wife beater, who neglected his children, brought disgrace to his community and won the middleweight championship on questionable terms.”

In Karen X. Tulchinsky’s The Five Books of Moses Lapinsky (Polestar $34.95), Moses delves into Toronto’s Jewish past. “My father was a poor Jewish kid from an immigrant family, from the ghetto at College and Spadina, a neighbourhood in which you were more likely to grow up and become a thief, a bookie, a gambler or dead, than a world renowned Boxing Champion.”

Set against the backdrop of World War II, The Five Books is a sober account of Jewish Canadians in the Depression, struggling to find their place amid growing anti-Semitism. At the story’s centre is the Christie Pits riot of 1933, a clash between British Canadian ‘Swazis’ and Jewish Canadian immigrants. Sonny and his brothers are part of the crowd watching the baseball game:

“From the South Side, Eddie spots it first. It is quiet and almost strangely beautiful for a moment. A small group of boys on the Camel’s Hump slowly, carefully unroll a large white sheet. It spreads out like a grand statement on the brown grass, the white of the sheet reflecting bright in the light of a fading orange and pink sunset. It takes a moment for folks to recognize the huge black Swastika hand-painted onto the middle of the sheet. Heads turn. Bodies stiffen. People begin to shout…‘Hail Hitler!’… It is hard to say where the fighting begins.” The riot leaves the youngest brother, Izzy, with brain damage. At the hospital, Sonny is overcome with guilt. “…Nausea rose from his belly to his throat and he had to run down the hall, barely making it to the men’s room in time to vomit into a toilet.”

One night after his shift at the bowling alley, Sonny meets the infamous cigar-smoking ‘Checkie’ Seigelman. “That’s how Checkie got his nickname,” says Sonny, “on account of he’s a genius with cheques. Everyone knows about Checkie Seigelman. He’s a local legend. Grew up right in Sonny’s neighbourhood. But now he’s so rich everyone goes to him for loans instead of the bank.” Sonny starts delivering unmarked white envelopes for Checkie, and eventually quits the bowling alley.

His fate changes the first day he steps inside a gym. He announces he wants to be a fighter. Checkie laughs, but arranges a sparring match with a local boxer named Tony. Sonny’s given a pair of boxing gloves, and steps into the ring. The coach signals to start. “Using his rapid fire style, he charges at Tony, catching him on the chin on his second punch, hard enough to knock the older boy back a few inches. Checkie removes the cigar from his mouth and stares… They get back into position and Sonny does it again. Bam bam bam bam bam. He strikes out so fast Tony doesn’t have a chance to dodge and again Sonny connects hard, a direct hit on Tony’s chin… Dollar signs ring in Checkie’s head. A goddamned gold mine.”

Boxing becomes a blissful escape from oppressive poverty. Sonny finds relief from the guilt of Izzy’s brain damage, and sets his sights on a life without second-hand clothes and boiled cabbage.

According to Tulchinsky, Sonny Lapinsky decided on his own to be a boxer. “I knew nothing about boxing,” she says, “but no matter how hard I tried to convince the character to do something else with his life, he was determined to be a boxer. So I had to educate myself on the sport… I wouldn’t exactly say I am now an expert, but I do know a right uppercut from a left hook.”

A Vancouver novelist and playwright, Karen X. Tulchinsky is currently writing an episode for the CTV drama series Keys Cut Here. 1-55192-556-7

[Jeremy Twigg/BCBW Winter 2003]