Alexis-Andre

At 11:11 on a Tuesday night in January, I called my own number and was slightly annoyed to find myself at home. I know it’s important to have these little discussions with yourself but, these days, I often find myself in a bad mood. (And vice-versa, of course.) The time before a book is published is a mild but constant irritation, like thinking you’ve left the stove on when you’re miles away from home. So, I struggled to be civil.[1]

– How are you? I asked.

– I’ve been better, I answered.

– Something on your mind?

– I can’t stop thinking about Harry Mathews and Italo Calvino.

9781552453056_Alexis_FifteenDogs_cover_RGB_800x1249A Wager

One evening in Toronto, the gods Apollo and Hermes were at the Wheat Sheaf Tavern. Apollo had allowed his beard to grow until it reached his clavicle. Hermes, more fastidious, was clean-shaven, but his clothes were distinctly terrestrial: black jeans, a black leather jacket, a blue shirt.

They had been drinking, but it wasn’t the alcohol that intoxicated them. It was the worship their presence elicited. The Wheat Sheaf felt like a temple, and the gods were gratified. In the men’s washroom, Apollo allowed parts of himself to be touched by an older man in a business suit. This pleasure, more intense than any the man had known or would ever know again, cost him eight years of his life.

While at the tavern, the gods began a desultory conversation about the nature of humanity. For amusement, they spoke ancient Greek, and Apollo argued that, as creatures go, humans were neither better nor worse than any other, neither better nor worse than fleas or elephants, say. Humans, said Apollo, have no special merit, though they think themselves superior. Hermes took the opposing view, arguing that, for one thing, the human way of creating and using symbols, is more interesting than, say, the complex dancing done by bees.