Bowlbrawl, by Nathaniel G. Moore: Big mouth strikes again

Big mouth strikes again

Moore, dastardly creator of Bowlbrawl (Conundrum Press), 191 pp
Photo: John Hryniuk

Canadian publishing has had its share of literary brats, but one stands above them all...

When we consider the tapestry of Canadian literature we must consider characters like Toronto’s Hal Niedzviecki, who has sold (about a thousand times) more books than Nathaniel G. Moore. We think of Ottawa’s rob mclennan, who has had a dozen trade books published since 1999. We must include CanLit’s baby-faced media darling, Winnepeg’s Jon Paul Fiorentino. Let’s not forget Ibi Kaslik, who appeals to large format book-buying culture with a wave of a Popsicle stick. None of them, however, is Nathaniel G. Moore. To be Nathaniel G. Moore is to be the most fervently misunderstood figure in Canadian publishing to date, the man whose new book, Bowlbrawl, realizes a modern impossibility: selling violence in an already violent world.

Bowlbrawl, Moore’s solo paperback debut, is the story of a late-1990s psychotic sports movement known as World Championship Bowling and its main stars, two Torontonians named Greg Lebelle and Dragan Momchilo. After some research and phone calls it turns out they are real people: the former was once a harm reduction worker for Toronto’s Street Health who did in fact star in Ontario’s only bowling trial; Momchilo, now 27, is a semi-pro soccer player currently studying at the Ontario College of Art and Design.

Written with strange interview questions, and with sadomasochistic tongue-in-cheek, Bowlbrawl is a misguided strategy book for an unsuspecting sports fanatic. No bowling fan would feel comfortable reading this book. In fact, it’s pretty mean. Bowlbrawl is bully culture, masculine culture, and a lowbrow anthem for the working class who are, as the narrator says, "cut from the same plastic straw."

Moore insists that he is the focus of a Canadian publishing conspiracy, and wanted this article to be called "The Plot Against Nathaniel."

"Well, I certainly envy the way that certain writers in this country get promoted, because I have never experienced that," says Moore. "I’ve witnessed first-hand the press and attention some of my close writer friends receive, and I mean, if you fail with that amount of promotion you must be pretty atrocious."

"All day long I sell garbage books to Canadians who worship American culture. It’s totally gross and makes me want to kill myself. I think, Why are you buying this crap? People are total lemmings. As Canadian writers, we are totally doomed."

Nathaniel G. Moore wants you to believe that he is insane. It’s hard not to. It says so on his driver’s licence. "Yann Martel isn’t going to read Bowlbrawl," he boasts over the phone from Indigo in Toronto, where he works at one of the flagship stores. "But some chain-smoking bingo prince in Cornwall with an overbite and hand-me-down braces, he’s my man."

Born in Toronto in the mid-’70s, Moore grew up around sports and domestic violence; he tried to go to university but kept getting into trouble. "I just kept fucking everything up, and could never move back home so I was always in debt and depressed. It was a decade of destruction, I’ll be honest with you."

Violence and spectacle are Moore’s favourite themes. And he loves confrontation. He also loves Canadian writers. "I like Michael Turner the best, and Rebecca Godfrey too. And every other word Fiorentino writes. I like rob mclennan and Hal Niedzviecki. They’re total villains. So they’re good in my world. I think Sheila Heti is great. I love her bangs." Also within his name-dropping Moore confesses that Jon Paul Fiorentino is plotting against him all the time. When I ask him why he thinks this, he says he can’t get into it but to trust him. He excels in unscripted articulation, and loves live performances.

Moore’s closest collaborators at this stage are Toronto artists Geoffrey Pugen and Marty Spellerberg, and there are plans to develop a Bowlbrawl DVD, video game, short film, reality television series, and, of course, the chance to fight the author, which Dragan Momchilo will do at the Montreal launch in the first ever author-vs.-character match. When asked what would make him satisfied as a writer, Moore answers in a totally different voice, part lumberjack: "I’m bored. I was promised world-calibre competition, main events, I’m bored brother! Give me something, show me a life sign, CanLit. Give me a fight. Anyone."

Launches at Jupiter Room (3874 St-Laurent), 9 p.m., Feb. 13

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