Rolli Stuff

From Quill & Quire…

Eight Saskatchewan writers shortlisted for High Plains Book Awards

High Plains Book AwardsEight Canadian authors have been named finalists for the 2015 High Plains Book Awards, based in Montana.

The awards were established in 2006 by the Billings Public Library Board to recognize titles published the year prior and written by authors from and/or that reflect life on the High Plains, which include the north-central U.S. states (Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Nebraska, Colorado, and Kansas), as well as the Canadian prairie provinces (Alberta, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan).

Out of 200 nominated titles in 10 categories, the following Canadian titles were shortlisted in the following five categories:

Art & photography award

  • Timothy Long, Dave Margoshes, and Wilf Perreault, eds.; Wilf Perreault; In the Alley/Dans la Ruelle (Coteau Books)

Children’s award

  • Cheryl Chad, Back to Batoche (Your Nickel’s Worth Publishing)
  • Jean Freeman, Do Trees Sneeze? (Your Nickel’s Worth Publishing)

Culinary award

  • Amy Jo Ehman, Out of Old: Saskatchewan Kitchens (MacIntyre Purcell Publishing)

Short fiction award

  • Dave Margoshes, God Telling a Joke and Other Stories (Oolichan Books)
  • Rolli, I Am Currently Working on a Novel (Tightrope Books)

YA award

  • Brenda Baker, Camp Outlook (Second Story Press)
  • Regine Haensel, Queen of Fire (Serimuse Books)

The winners will each be honoured with a $500 prize at an awards banquet on Oct. 3 at the Yellowstone Art Museum in Billings, Montana.


From Quill and Quire.


My mother and I were in Bristol, visiting someone. A cousin, or something. We were having tea—like this. Our hostess … and her teenage daughter. I would’ve been nine or ten.

Children did a lot of listening in those days. I was never very good at it. I’ve always felt that only interesting people should speak—though it’s the opposite of convention. I suppose I fidgeted too much or said something smart because Mother hissed into my ear: “Why don’t you go upstairs and say hello to Katherine?”

Children still did as they were told in those days. I was never very good at that, either. But this time, I listened. I suppose I was bored. I didn’t know who Katherine was and I didn’t ask.

The first room I went into was the master bedroom. There were clothes all over the floor. When the parlour had been so clean.

The second room was the teenage daughter’s. She had a lot of nice things. Fashionable clothes. There was quite a lot of makeup on the vanity. I put on a bit of coral lipstick and looked in the mirror. I’ve always liked that color.

The third room…

A girl lay asleep in bed. But she wasn’t asleep, no. Her eyes were open. She was looking straight up, at the ceiling. There was something… I could tell there was something, here.

There was a chair by the bed, so I sat in it. I looked at this girl. I was curious. She was no bigger than a child of four or five, though she could’ve been my age—or older, even. Her wrists…

As I watched her, she turned her face to me. Her cheek against the pillow. She looked just like a Victorian advertisement. She looked at me. She said…

She said…

“Because I have two hearts … I am strange and sad to everyone.”

I took her hand. It was so small. I closed my fingers around it. Her skin. You could see every vein.

And I could feel them. PA-PUM … pa-pum. PA-PUM … pa-pum. PA-PUM … pa-pum. The two hearts. A stronger, and a weaker. I didn’t know … that was even possible.

She didn’t say another word, the girl. She didn’t have to.

It’s strange, how something can affect you. For years, I prayed for that girl, long after… Or when I was about to enjoy something, perhaps something too nice, something improper, I’d think of her. An image of her, with her head against the pillow. And I’d set down the cake, or tell the young man no.

The girl … the two hearts. My moral companions.

Another cup?


Rolli’s latest collection, I Am Currently Working on a Novel, was longlisted for the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award and shortlisted for the High Plains Book Award.



2015 was my happiest year.

I pursued my writing dream.

I lived in twelve apartments.

I wrote fifty-two stories.

I sent my stories to the Big T (The New York Titan).

The Big T sent them back.

I sent my stories to The Chesapeake Community Newsletter-Gazette.

The Chesapeake Community Newsletter-Gazette sent them back.

I just about shot myself. The bullet lodged in the wall.

I couldn’t write a word in Eternal Rest (the name of the shelter). Not at first.

The ceiling was plaster painted blue.

Then it came to me.

Rippling Tongues of Hungry Desire.

Rippling Tongues of Hungry Desire.

Rippling Tongues of Hungry Desire.

The book wrote itself. It sold itself.

I shot myself. It was a year before I could see again.

Telexa is the name of my estate. The Big T. There’s a glittering T on the rooftop.

The world’s celebrities visit Telexa. We drink Champagne. We joke about orgies.

I joke about climbing the Big T and jumping. Every night.



RDC AG2015

This week…

A new cartoon in the August edition of Reader’s Digest Canada, on newsstands now. You’ll like it.

Plus – a new review of my most recent story collection, I Am Currently Working On a Novel, in the StarPhoenix. Peruse it.



A new story, for you. “A Window.” Plus a drawing. Plus an interview. Over at SmokeLong.



barron's JN 2015

I have a new cartoon in this week’s edition of Barron’s. On newsstands now.


high plains 2015

My most recent story collection, I Am Currently Working On a Novel, is a finalist for the High Plains Book Award (Short Story Category).

View the complete list of finalists here.

Order an autographed copy of I Am Currently Working On a Novel here.


When I’m depressed, I get as low down as I can. If the couch doesn’t cut it, I go on the floor. Then I’ll try the bed in the basement or the basement floor.

I was beating myself in the head, one day. I was beating my head on the basement floor. I couldn’t think of anything. When your head’s an empty ballroom with a dead balloon on the floor…

I touched my head. I couldn’t feel it. It wasn’t there.


I crawled upstairs and out the door.

I crawled across the backyard. A rusty nail went through my hand.

I crawled over some roses.

I grabbed a pickaxe and a shovel from the tool shed.

In the basement…

I swung the pickaxe at the wall. Digging down on a slant. Shoveling the junk behind me.

My neighbour showed up.

“Maybe you’re not depressed,” she said. “Maybe you’re just a writer.”

I kept swinging. A rock chip hit me in the eye.

My folks showed up. It sounded like them.

“I’m worried.”

“I’m worried you’re reducing your property value.”

I stopped for a second.

Then I felt my head. I could feel it a little. I thought.

I kept shovelling. I cut a salamander in half.


It was getting dark down there. Deep down. I felt depressed. I hadn’t felt that good in a long time.

I kept digging. I dug up … it looked like the skeleton of a little animal. Maybe a cat. It was too dark to tell.

I had a cat once.

“You’ve gotta stop sometime,” said someone.

That terrified me. There’s an elevator in my throat. It went all the way up.

I kept swinging.

The tunnel was twelve feet deep, now.

I felt my head. I could definitely feel it. It was there. But…

“You’ve gotta stop sometime.”

Fuck it, don’t think about it.

I looked back at the mouth of the tunnel. For just a second. The faces…

They looked just like teeth. Like white teeth.

I kept swinging. I kept shovelling.

I had a headache.

I hadn’t felt that good in a long time.



Rolli’s latest story collection, I Am Currently Working on a Novel, was longlisted for the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award and shortlisted for the High Plains Book Award.

A Cartoon, for You…


It’s in the new June issue of Prospect. On page 80.


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