Lilypie Pregnancy tickers

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Xofa Xmas

Chris has a short piece of holiday fiction in today's Coast. Thought I'd share it and wish all happy holidays. Click the image below to read the story.

May we have peace, love, joy, justice, sustainability, creativity and healthy communities in 2011.

Suokojamin/Benautio Family

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Fall Photos 2

We took D-man to the model train expo and it was the best day of his life:

This is our new family sedan, a circa 1960s CCM 60-pound special:

Fall Photos

D had a blast trick or treating with Grammy in his mouse costume. Didn't take him long to figure out life's sweetest equation: house + pumpkin = candy.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Book Tour Video

This is a highlight reel from my recent book tour. I had fun making it and revisiting all the joy of celebrating a new book in the world! Hope you enjoy it too:


Sunday, November 14, 2010

D with Mapa

D-man has given us one of those congealed celeb nicknames: Mapa. It is to be used in the negative, as in: "No, mapa," when we are doing something he doesn't like. Paying attention to each other, and not him, for example.

Here are a couple of life's sweeter moments, just Mapa and D:

This last one's D and Miia on the Toronto subway, at the front of the train, taking it all in with great excitement:

Finally, pictures

OK, here's what you've all been waiting for:

First, D at the park with Papa and Mike:

This is his best Fonzie:

Here's D's cousin Maggie watching a ring spin:

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Drive-by Saviours is Apparently Essential

Exciting news all - Drive-by Saviours made the Canada Reads longlist of "Top 40 Essential Canadian Novels of the Decade."

And we the people will decide which books make the top 10 list. You only get one vote.

If you want to vote Drive-by Saviours, just go to Canada Reads and click the circle next to Drive-by Saviours by Chris Benjamin, scroll down and click the vote button. You have until Nov 7 - but really why wait until Nov 7 what you could do right now?

Btw, here is the Top 40 list, and there are some damn fine books there. What say you, dear reader? What books should have made the list but didn't. Any on the list that you don't think are so hot?

A Complicated Kindness by Miriam Toews

Bottle Rocket Hearts by Zoe Whittall

Clara Callan by Richard B. Wright

Come, Thou Tortoise by Jessica Grant

Conceit by Mary Novik

Crow Lake by Mary Lawson

Drive-by Saviours by Chris Benjamin

Elle by Douglas Glover

Essex County by Jeff Lemire

Far to Go by Alison Pick

February by Lisa Moore

Galore by Michael Crummey

Heave by Christy Ann Conlin

Inside by Kenneth J. Harvey

Late Nights on Air by Elizabeth Hay

Life of Pi by Yann Martel

Lullabies for Little Criminals by Heather O'Neill

Moody Food by Ray Robertson

Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood

Pattern Recognition by William Gibson

Room by Emma Donoghue

Shelf Monkey by Corey Redekop

Skim by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki

Sweetness in the Belly by Camilla Gibb

The Best Laid Plans by Terry Fallis

The Birth House by Ami McKay

The Bishop's Man by Linden MacIntyre

The Bone Cage by Angie Abdou

The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill

The Day the Falls Stood Still by Cathy Marie Buchanan

The Fallen by Stephen Finucan

The Girls Who Saw Everything by Sean Dixon

The Last Crossing by Guy Vanderhaeghe

The Stone Carvers by Jane Urquhart

The Way the Crow Flies by Ann-Marie MacDonald

The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood

Three Day Road by Joseph Boyden

Through Black Spruce by Joseph Boyden

Twenty-Six by Leo McKay Jr.

Unless by Carol Shields

Chris Benjamin

Thursday, October 14, 2010


I'm writing from Lachutes, Quebec, about 40 km northwest of Montreal. A good friend of mine is Superintendent of a golf course here and he's putting me up. Tonight, (Thurs Oct 14), I read at 8:00pm in Montreal, at Argo Bookshop, 1915 Ste Catherine W. There will be three writers reading tonight, starting at 7:30 pm. Also up will be Susan Gillis, author of Volta, and Claudia Coutu Radmore, author of A Minute or Two/Without Remembering. Hopefully more authors means more people, more energy.

It's been thrilling meeting book lovers in small towns and large cities. In Lindsay, at Kent Books, we had a small crowd of five, but somehow sold 10 books. In Kingston, at the Princess St Indigo Bookstore, I didn't read at all, but signed and sold 10 more books to a sparse crowd on Thanksgiving Day. I met aspiring writers, a military woman who blogs with Chatelaine, and one very young woman who has her first book coming out, about a girl battling with anorexia, later this year. Her mother did most of the talking but you could tell how excited they were. Some folks were kind enough to want to support a first-time novelist, others had heard of the book and were keen to read it. The staff were particularly supportive and several of them bought copies.

My host in Kingston, friend and prolific freelancer Meredith Dault, organized a Thanksgiving Monday potluck and let me read to an intimate and highly receptive audience. They were mostly cultural studies grad students so it was slightly nerve wracking and their questions were astute. I'll have to steal some of them for future book club questions.

At Octopus Books in Ottawa (where even the t-shirts lean left), I was given the warmest welcome I could imagine from Jenn Farr, who does promotions for the store. "Your not the Chris Benjamin are you? You are? Hoorayyyyyyyy!!! Would you like some apple cidar?" It was a small but enthusiastic crowd, including a woman I'd met in Kingston who lived in Ottawa. (My first groupie? Nah, just a kind book-lover with two gorgeous black labs.) Jenn video'd the whole thing and hopefully it'll end up on Octopus' website.

That night I stayed with a friend of mine who I met in Indonesia, where the seeds of Drive-by Saviours were sewn in the form of graduate research. I had an 'I really hope I got this right' moment with her at the reading. There was little time to talk old times though because her three-year old had a lot on his mind, including the complete lyrics to K'naan's 'Waving Flag'.

Boarding the train early the next morning I felt a bit like the lyrics to that Credence song 'Playing in a Traveling Band': take me to the next show / baggage gone, oh well / someone got excited / had to call the state militia / gotta move

OK, maybe not quite that dramatic but the stop-and-go can be a bit jarring. It's nice to have two whole nights in Quebec. The reunions, reminiscing and celebration continue as I introduce my creation to Eastern Canada, and hope people take notice.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Doing the Bookstore Hustle

I met Ivan Prokopchuk the other night, in person. He's long been one of the most colourful personalities I've met as a blogger, and a character who consistently captures my imagination.

But there he was in the Lula Lounge, in full colour, three dimensions, in the flesh, across the table from me with his book, The Fire in Bradford, in hand. "I'll show you mine if you you show me yours," he grinned.

[That's me in the pink shirt, reading to an enthusiastic crowd at the Lula Lounge.]

But with Another Story Bookshop on hand selling Drive-by Saviours I didn't have any swap copies. The swap had been my suggestion, but with all the insanity of travel, visiting family and friends, organizing book launches and an Eastern Canadian book tour, I'd forgotten. I promised to send Ivan a copy in the mail and he gave me his book, shook my hand and heartily congratulated me. And he was gone, making way for the next in line.

It was one of a series of surreal encounters I've had lately with old friends. The support has been overwhelming - people I haven't seen in years, people I've only met online, have come out to my two book launches in Halifax and Toronto to celebrate my accomplishment.

And now, writing from a friend's home in East Toronto, planning to head up to Kent Bookstore in Lindsay Ontario in a few hours for another reading and more old friends (and to meet a boisterous one-year-old), I'm feeling a deep easy happiness in that willingness to celebrate what others among us do.

At the same time, I ache for my wife and son, who flew back to Halifax yesterday morning at about crack o'clock, and I long for my own bed where I could properly nurse this worsening cold. Suddenly I'm a lone drifter again, something I missed and didn't expect to experience again so soon. Last time I was a young man, full of abstractions and equipped with an eager pen and ink-hungry notebooks. It all seems a little more businesslike this time - I'm a drifter with a mission, a product to move. I feel like a huckster with a money-bulge in my pocket.

That's not a complaint. I'm loving meeting people, sharing my art with them, and experiencing their kind and enthusiastic responses - their questions, comments and cash. Living the dream for me has moved beyond sloganism and into reality.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Upcoming Readings, Book Launches, and Media Clips

Hi folks,

First, a huge thank you to everyone who came out to the Halifax book launch on Wednesday. We crammed more than a hundred people into the Company House (with a stalled line out the door at one point) and Bookmark sold out the 60 copies of Drive-by Saviours it brought. (Sorry to those who didn't get one, but stores are well stocked and you can buy online here). It was so heartwarming to have all those great people out to celebrate my book and hear great local music and reading.

On Saturday, Sept 25, 7:00 pm, I'm presenting the Percy Prize for best unpublished Atlantic Canadian novel (the award I won in 2008) at the Jane Buss gala. It's at Alderney Landing in Dartmouth. Should be fun.

Then on Sunday I'll be reading at the Main Stage at Word on the Street Halifax, Victoria Park, at 11:30am. I'll be sharing the stage with Russell Smith, so it should be interesting. And I'll be signing books all day at the Roseway/Fernwood booth.

On Monday I leave for my book tour. Some of the dates have changed so please take a look at to see when I hit your town. And a few more Nova Scotia readings will be added later so I'll keep you posted on that.

In the meantime I've already had some fun media coverage. You can hear my interview on CKDU's Book Club at I come in at 22:00 minutes (about 1/3 of the way through), and it gets cut off at the end, but it gives you a good chunk of it.

Also, I got to go on this week with Silver Donald Cameron. We interviewed each other about our new books. The clip is up at

Aside from the novel, I have a couple other publications coming out this fall. First is my short story, The Law Won, which will be in the literary journal Descant's prison issue. If you're in Toronto you can attend the launch at Revival (783 College Street) on Wednesday, Oct 06, 2010, 7:30 p.m. But I won't be there - I'll be up in Lindsay reading. However, Hurricane Rubin Carter will be there, and it's a shame I'll miss the chance to meet such a passionate advocate for justice. You can learn more about the issue at

My short story, Gifts from the North, also appears in a new anthology out this month, called Airbourne, published by Third Person Press in Cape Breton. The launch is on, wait for it...October 6, 6:30-8:30pm, at the McConnell Memorial Library, 50 Falmouth Street in Sydney, Nova Scotia. More on the Airbourne Anthology at

Happy reading,

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

My Big Day Downtown

I was given $100 by the Downtown Halifax Business Commission to spend on anything I wanted, as long as I documented the experience publicly. I, naturally, chose books. Here's a video (shot by Miia, edited by me, with music by my brother) of the experience:

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Family photos for the Faraways

This is supposed to be a blog by and about a family, yet it's been all about my literary work lately. My vivacious and loving mother-in-law has let me know she has almost forgotten what we all look like, especially with the wee one getting bigger and changing and whatnot. To those of you who aren't on the evil Facebook and who don't get to see us much, we apologize for the lag in photos. Here are some recent ones from a very busy summer, full of many visitors, home renos, and a little bit of travel:

Water fight with cousins.

On cousin Calla's b-day bash.
He's a clown.

Andretti eyes.

Hearts in the highlands.
He's a climber.

At the Glen Breton Distillery.


Early-summer garden.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Book Launches & New Video

The Halifax launch of my novel, Drive-by Saviours, will be September 22 at The Company House on Gottingen St. We'll likely kick things off around 7 pm, but I'll confirm that later. There will be live music and likely some spoken word. Here's hoping we get half of Nova Scotia in there!

Second, the Toronto launch is tentatively booked for October 4 at the Lula Lounge on Dundas West, so if you're in Toronto please mark that on your calendar. I'm still working on the music (if anyone has any ins with hot Toronto bands please let me know) but I'll keep you posted.

Also, thanks to a grant from the Province of Nova Scotia I'll be doing a book tour starting right after the Toronto launch. I'll be hitting Peterborough, Port Hope, Kingston, Ottawa, Montreal, Fredericton, and Charlottetown. If you know any good bookstores or other reading venues (libraries etc.) between Toronto and Halifax, please let me know about them.

Lastly, here's a new video on the themes of the book (ecology, international development, helping professions, indigenous cultures, Western culture, individualism, collectivism, community, Canadiana, Indonesia, and immigration).

Hope to see you all at a launch or reading soon.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Drive-by Saviours Trailer

Hi folks, here's trailer I made (with help from my brother) for my forthcoming novel:

Friday, June 25, 2010

Novel News

I've been quite busy with the novel lately, first doing final edits then thinking marketing. To that effect, I've created a myspace page and put up a clip of me reading from the novel there, as well as some fusion-y music my brother created for a trailer we're working on. Click my face below to listen to those:
I've also created a website for the book. Below is what the cover will look like. Click on that for the website (not a lot of content there yet but stay tuned for some video I'm working on regarding the book):

The publisher, Roseway (an imprint of Fernwood), also has a website for the book. Click the Fernwood logo to see that site:

Lastly, I've been remiss with posting my columns. Here are the last three, respectively called Coastal Disaster, Population Bomb, and Lorincz on Environment:

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

D painted me this for my birthday:

D is a multi-sport crosstrainer:

Here's D with his buddy Kaleb:
D playing basketball with his Godmother:
At the Bluenose marathon waiting for our friend Larry to cross the finish:

A moment of truce:
D feeding Moon: