Ground Manners’ First Anniversary

Ground Manners’ First Anniversary

GGround Manners. A Novel was published 13 months ago.  One of the traditional publishers I’d sent it to wrote back saying that it was too political.  At least half a dozen advocacy organizations said they would publicize it on their sites; the only Canadian organizations that did were the CHDC and CHHAPS.  Since then, Carol M. Upton of Dreams Aloud Promotions  (see blog) has had reviews published in six horse magazines for which I am very grateful.

But Evelyne Villers was the very first journalist courageous enough to publish her Book Review on a novel written in English about the Québec horse industry.  And today, she re-published her Review with a few changes and also publicized my upcoming booth at the Salon du Livre in Rigaud this Sunday, March 25th.  I can’t thank her enough for this heart-warming surprise.  Please go here to read Evelyne’s review (en français).

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Justify Your Existence

This is a new game in which you gain or lose points depending on what kind of earth citizen you’ve been.  The questions are very like the ones you’re asked when you sign up with the Quebec government’s eco-agency–you know, questions like:  “do you recycle? do you compost? do you car-pool? do you wash your clothes in cold water?”…that sort of thing.  The more points you accumulate, the better, and you’re on your way to winning, to having “your existence justified”; the winner becomes the owner of our planet until a challenger knocks him off his pedestal.  It reminds me of that bio-clock craze a few years back.  The bio-clock measured your lifespan in nano-seconds and kept ticking away as you were going about your business.  Its purpose was to remind you that human life is finite (really?) and one should be as productive as possible.  No daydreaming for you, Einstein.

What I like about this new game Justify Your Existence is how it crystallizes virtually the entire cultural shift that we’ve witnessed in the past two or three decades.  And for those of you who snort “pshaw, nonsense”, let me quote Jonathan Safran Foer:  “if nothing matters, then there’s nothing to save.”

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What’s so Special about Oregon?

The furor over the couple in Oregon killing their own horse then taking pictures of themselves smiling through the horse’s abdomen and appearing to eat its heart while naked baffles me.  Respect for life means RESPECT FOR LIFE…in what way does this event differ from the horrifically cruel ways horses are slaughtered every five minutes all over the world (just view the youtube video made in Argentina and see which makes you sicker).  I can understand the anti-slaughter movement in the US hitching onto this particular, but certainly, not unique incident because Sue Wallis revealed just how profound her pathology is by publicly supporting the couple’s behaviour (it takes one to know one, or two, in this case).  And I can understand why the incident has gone viral; after all, I’m sure that the friends and neighbours of the couple could do follow-up interviews, looking mildly bewildered and saying things like, ‘I don’t understand it…they seemed like such a nice couple.’  You know, similar to what people said about Ted Bundy.  We just don’t expect evil in someone’s own backyard even though, if you expand the geography of your own backyard by just a bit (and those of you who live in Massueville need only add a very little bit of yardage), this level of cruelty happens everywhere.  If you have no respect for life to begin with, what does it matter if you carry that disrespect to extremes like that psychopathic couple did (in fact, that’s probably why they published their video:  even they know that the world has no respect for life)? In for a penny, in for a pound.  I don’t think what they did was any worse than the testimonial of an abattoir worker in Jonathan Saffran Foer’s book, Eating Animals. Foer cites this testimonial from Gail Eisnitz’s book, Slaughterhouse.

“Down in the blood pit they say that the smell of blood makes you aggressive.  And it does.  You get an attitude that if that hog kicks at me, I’m going to get even.  You’re already going to kill the hog, but that’s not enough….[I] split its nose…a live hog [would just be looking at me]…and I would just take my knife and…cut its eye out while it was just sitting there….One time I took my knife…and I sliced off the end of a hog’s nose, just like a piece of bologna….I took a handful of salt brine and ground it into his nose…[then] I stuck the [rest of the] salt right up the hog’s ass.”  (p.252, Eating Animals, quoting Slaughterhouse by Gail Eisnitz)

Now I don’t think measuring levels of pathological behaviour as it pertains to no respect for life would be useful here:  is this abattoir worker less cruel because, unlike the Oregon couple, he didn’t bother making a youtube video out of that incident…an incident which hundreds of abattoir workers have admitted is no different from what goes on all the time, by everyone?  

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Opposing Reader Reviews

Marie Dean, a strong supporter of the CHDC, wrote this review of Ground Manners. A Novel:

Ground Manners by Cynthia D’Errico is a rollercoaster book of thrills and heart-pounding drama.  I have never been so absorbed, and never read a book so fast before in my life – just couldn’t put it down.  Ground Manners has actually got me interested in reading again.  It was thought provoking, captivating and I so wanted to be part of the group of characters – I so wanted to meet them in person – crazy!  The love and trust between human and horse, as well as between the horses themselves is so eloquently expressed that you are engulfed in the deepest of bonds.    Being a horse owner and lover I felt so greatly the vulnerable side of the horse, which Cynthia puts into words so gently that you are exhausted from emotion.    The details of horse slaughter are few, but the terror is felt and written between the lines – the horror and evil is understood.  Powerful read!! —Marie Dean, Waterford, Ontario, Supporter of the Canadian Horse Defence Coalition (CHDC).

Now here’s another Review written by someone on Amazon (and I did try to reach him to get his permission, but alas, so I hope he doesn’t mind my posting it here [csa was his moniker]):

This wasn’t quite what I expected. It dwelled a bit too long on the rescue aspect of horses and described things I really wish I could “unread”. I know there are people who need to be reminded of the cruelty of humans toward other inhabitants of this earth, but for one with a lot of empathy, it was just a bit over the top for me. The story line was easy to follow although a bit contrived and required a stretch of belief in places. The most interesting parts to read, aside from the historic aspect of the Canadian horse (of which I own several), were the interactions among the herd of horses. Those parts helped me see some members of our herd in a new light. The author did a good job of expressing the spirits of horses.

 

Of course, what I really liked

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Good News about Ground Manners. A Novel

Good News about Ground Manners. A Novel

Every now and then, I have a brainstorm…as opposed to my usual state, “bubblebrain”.  I came across Carol Upton’s site almost by chance, circuitously anyway, as most “stumbles-upon” occur on the internet.  When I read her site, I just knew that this was the person I’d been desperately wishing into existence to help me market GM and its message to the public.  Now don’t get me wrong:  I have marketing experience; I’m a pretty smart cookie, neurons only just lately starting to crumble, so I thought I’d done a pretty fair job so far.  But now, Carol…well, Carol, like one of those gentle forces of nature–like a sudden wind that knocks you off your feet, or a downpour that wets you through and through before you’ve even processed that it’s raining–just shimmers into your circle like Gwenda in The Wizard of OZ, and carefully assesses your needs, dialogues with you (as a person and as a writer), and then produces results far beyond your expectations, and makes it appear so simple and easy, that you are left quite speechless (which, as you know, is a rare state for me).  (I bet she has a magic wand on her person somewhere; it must be another ‘practical magic’ thing, eh.)   So, before I go on to list and link to the important horse websites which Carol somehow persuaded to carry her excellent Press Review of GM, let me just say ‘thanks, Carol.  I am most beholden to you.’  And one of the most heartwarming results of Carol’s work on Ground Manners’ behalf is that Yvonne Allen, who owns Voice for the Horse in Langley, BC, has asked me to provide, as a prize, a copy of my novel for their First Annual International Writing Competition.  Now, I ask you:  does lightning strike twice?  

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Spelling and Other Really Annoying Subjects

Spelling and Other Really Annoying Subjects

Recently, one of my Canadian colleagues commented that an American had told her:  “If you keep spelling “Defense” with an “s” instead of a “c”, you will never be taken seriously.”  Um, hello…ever heard of Canadian or British spelling?  Americans, as I have mentioned in earlier posts, do tend to, um, keep to themselves…and therefore have very little knowledge of what’s going on in other countries (except as it affects them…just watch CNN for ten hours straight and you’ll see).  I also encountered Americans at the Conference who thought I’d flown through a blizzard to reach Virginia…um, no, Autumn hasn’t quite started yet; everything in Canada is still green, just dropping to sleep as winter beckons. A family from  Brooklyn waiting at the Dorval Airport when I was on my way to Vancouver in July, questioned why all the kiosks offered baked beans with breakfast.  I nearly explained:  “Beans are a staple in the traditional Quebec breakfast,”  but the wife was so vocal and so, um, prolific in her bewilderment at the offers of baked beans, that I couldn’t find a moment to interrupt to tell them anything.

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