Suppose you find yourself standing in a Calgary bar, perhaps Ranchman’s, mouthing off about your beloved Vancouver Canucks who’ve just eliminated the Flames in the playoffs (unlikely as that might be) and you’ve been shouting to be heard – the music is loud after all. A large southern Albertan ranchman hears you. He’s wearing a big white hat that shadows his eyes. His belt buckle winks in the light and you notice it’s a shiny Calgary Flames logo. You exchange a few words, but he’s not interested in talking. Instead, all hell breaks loose. Beer bottles smash on tabletops, you and the cowboy slug each other, the unmistakable stench of man-sweat and confusion floods the room. As the deafening cheers from onlookers – now the women are in on the fighting – spur on the cowboy, you consider dropping down under a table and curling in the fetal position. At this point, it’s about having the right guys to watch your back. In no particular order, these writers and their books might just help you walk away from that bar and live to fight another day. ***John Vigna’s debut collection, BULL HEAD (Arsenal Pulp Press), has been published to critical acclaim this Fall. He is the recipient of the Dave Greber Award for Freelance Writers, winner of the sub-Terrain Lush Triumphant fiction contest and finalist for a Western Magazine Award, the Event creative non-fiction contest, and the CBC literary non-fiction contest.
John’s work has appeared in numerous newspapers, magazines and anthologies including Cabin Fever: The Best New Canadian Non-Fiction, The Dalhousie Review, Grain, Event, sub-Terrain, The Antigonish Review, and Exact Fare 2: Stories of Public Transportation. He lives in Vancouver with his wife, the author Nancy Lee.