About the Author

Daniel Perry

Daniel Perry’s stories have appeared in The Dalhousie Review, Exile: The Literary Quarterly, The Prairie Journal of Canadian Literature, SubTerrain, Riddle Fence, Little Fiction and other magazines as well as the anthologies, Hearing Voices (Bareback, 2014), The Lion and the Aardvark (Stone Skin, 2013) and CVC Book Two (Exile, 2012). Originally from small-town Southwestern Ontario, Dan obtained a Master of Arts degree from the Centre for Comparative Literature at the University of Toronto, and has lived in that city since 2006.

Books by this Author
Hamburger

Hamburger

edition:Paperback
also available: eBook
tagged : urban life
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Excerpt

My three-year old, Ethan, stood up on my lap, pressed his feet into my thighs and — green sippy cup falling from his hand — he pushed off like a gymnast toward the boat’s yellow railing. I flung an arm between the American torsos and caught his wrist, but this lady, this fat cow, she slapped me and yelled nasally, “Polizia!” I lost my grip for just a second, and when I clasped again my fingers found only my palm. Fatso’s face blanched and I heard a few screams. I shouldered her and stepped onto the railing. I dove over the side. The sludgy water filled my shoes and I sank — eyes open, stinging — as I looked for his blond curls, his Osh Kosh. I thought I saw him rising and followed him up, but I surfaced alone in the waterbus’s wash. The hot sun beat down and I tasted the murk. Already, a blue and white police craft was motoring up, its mustached pilot scribbling a fifty-euro swimming ticket.

 

“Inglese!” I called. “My son! Mio” — I searched for the word — “figlio!” I pivoted in every direction, looking for Ethan. I yelled at the cop again and this time, he took a radio from his belt clip and machine-gunned Italian into the mouthpiece. He gestured to the canal bank. Outboards pull-started and colleagues scrambled into wetsuits; the filth still chilled in April, a cold that only hit me once treading had exhausted me. My mouth and nose filled with stench my numb toes stirred up. The cop pulled me over the gunwale, and another draped a blanket over my shoulders. From the small deck I watched the divers flop into the brown and green, the stink and muck and shit — actual shit — plunging again and again to the canal’s choleric bottom.

 

Michelle and I had wanted to go to Italy for years, and had spent three months meticulously planning, an hour or two most nights once Ethan was in bed. But before we left: Lyndsay. Lyndsay with no business scrawling her name, never mind enrolling in a Creative Writing program. Then again, BFA: Bachelor of Fuck All. I never got one, I just wrote short stories — two small-press manifestoes two years apart, barely notable enough to get me in on a young Toronto university’s new cash-grab. Given ten years, I became the longest-tenured instructor. I didn’t get a say in Lyndsay’s admission, but I’m told she had a recommendation from Cheryl Chabert, that perfectly bilingual, three-time Giller Prize-winning blurbosaur who apparently says nothing but world-opening, full of splendour, magnifique. The lines are never true but they sell books anyway. Take a few such superlatives and add an autograph for the English Department archive. Of course Lyndsay got in.

 

Did you ever see a grown woman actually bat her eyelashes? Blonde and not overly tall, Lyndsay’s hips and breasts curved just enough to make her soft, and inviting. And then there were the eyelashes: coquettish, in a word, though I can’t say like that one. She was the perfect little fool Daisy Buchanan dreamed of. And while Never judge a book by its cover is a wise saying, I prefer Sleeping with your students isn’t worth it, because afterward you’ll have to read their short stories. In the afternoon workshop, the one that I didn’t teach, Lyndsay went right for my misogynist throat, (her word, not mine), presenting a piece about a disappointing night “Laura” spent with her writing teacher. My other students said it was god-awful work, but it connected with the guest instructor that day, who was fresh off the success of her Italian-set, 600-page, Governor-General’s Award-nominated Love in the Time of Cholera rip-off, and who happened to be my wife, at the time.

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