News and Interviews

David Huebert on Inspiring a Dress Code, Being Haunted by Cows, and his Bachelorette Canada Connection

David Huebert hi-res B&W

David Huebert has been going from strength to strength recently, gathering successes in multiple genres including both the CBC Short Story Prize and the Walrus Poetry Prize. Now, just two years after the publication of his acclaimed poetry collection We Are No Longer the Smart Kids in Class, he returns with a collection of eight short stories, Peninsula Sinking (Bibloasis).

Peninsula Sinking has been attracting praise since it was published with Robert Wiersma delcaring that the book "establishes Huebert as one of Canada’s most impressive young writers" and Laurie D. Graham saying "Each sentence is alive and crackling. His turns of phrase will catch your breath in your throat. These stories will sweep you up."

We're pleased to have David on Open Book today as part of our Dirty Dozen series, where we ask writers to share twelve unexpected and little known facts about themselves. He tells us about an understanding mix up around hot dogs, his Bachelorette Canada connection, and why cows keep him up at night.

David Huebert: My First Ever Piece of 100% True Creative Nonfiction, or, I Fear Cows

  1. My first job was dishwasher at the Dalhousie University Club.
  2. As a child I thought hot dogs were the cropped tails of canine pets such as our family dog, Malco. 
  3. I used to listen to an embarrassing amount of Green Day like I’d bus to school every day listening to Dookie and Nimrod and if pressed Insomniac on my little blue Walkman because even though I had an off-brand Discman that my mother called a “Discperson” the Walkman was preferable because it didn’t skip and now when I think back to those rides on the proletariat chariot I can’t help tapping my foot a little and kind of doing an inward Billy Idol sneer like man I am so suburban punk rock.
  4. I have spent significant portions of my life operating a machine called the “toilet snake.”
  5. My dear friend R was a contestant on the The Bachelorette Canada.
  6. I went to Halifax Grammar School for grade ten and at the time I had my hair dyed a Green Day-ish green and then I shaved a Mohawk and a seven-year-old kid dressed up as me for Halloween and the school had to institute a dress code the next year but I was already gone, riding a hot-wired motorcycle and jacking ATMs like John Connor from Terminator 2: Judgement Day.  
  7. I fear cows.
  8. I once received mild electrocution while changing the lightbulb at the Denny’s where I worked as a dishwasher and the manager looked at me all weird like “are you gonna sue” but I didn’t sue #noregretzkies.    
  9. Whenever he’s asked why he was cut at the end of The Bachelorette Canada Season 1, R claims he wasn’t particularly interested in the Kenora hairstylist Jasmine anyway but then gets pulled into long paranoid rants about deep-dish frying pans and possible anti-oil-worker conspiracies underpinning the show’s dubious ethics and he also says “it’s a TV show” as if that explained everything vis-à-vis certain nefarious machinations and character archetypes that the show is always trying to mobilize but I maintain that the producers missed out on an unconventional yet highly watchable and dynamic character with R and also obviously the show is completely driven by true, organic love.   
  10. I fear cows which I trace back to the year I spent in England when I was ten years old this was at the height of Mad Cow Disease AKA Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy which the fear was much like rabies that is to say it’s about being turned animalistic by contact with animal flesh and body fluid and it also has something to do with deep phobias about cannibalism because the poor cows had been fed other cows and to this day I still roil and writhe every time I look into the bloodshot eyes of a bovine, those big sad docile eyes whispering we’re coming for you, we know what you did and we will find you, in the streets or the fields or peering into the green pseudowood of your writing table we will find you.  
  11. I maintain that the correct expression is “butt naked.”
  12. The day before my high-school graduation I chirped a well-muscled older rollerblader (I was “A Skateboarder”) then waited cackling outside a Royal Bank for two full minutes while said chiselled and possibly MMA-trained rollerblader took off his rollerblades and proceeded to jab my friend T in the throat before one-punching me. The welt swelled in my cheek like a horrid purple jellyfish, which was how I appeared in my grade twelve graduation photo. When my devout aunts and uncles gathered around the dinner table and asked my how I’d gotten the slosh of swell in my face I lamely said I’d fallen skateboarding and my sister hissed across the table “no he didn’t he got punched by MD’s brother” and I broiled with hatred and shame while also knowing this was probably just what I deserved.     

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David Huebert is a Canadian writer of fiction, poetry, and critical prose whose work has won the CBC Short Story Prize, the Sheldon Currie Fiction Prize, and the Walrus Poetry Prize, among other awards. David’s work has been published in magazines such as The Fiddlehead, EVENT, enRoute, and Canadian Notes and Queries. His debut short fiction collection, Peninsula Sinking, came out with Biblioasis this fall. David is also the author of the 2015 poetry collection We Are No Longer the Smart Kids in Class.

Related reading

Peninsula Sinking

In Peninsula Sinking, David Huebert brings readers an assortment of Maritimers caught between the places they love and the siren call of elsewhere. From submarine officers to prison guards, oil refinery workers to academics, each character in these stories struggles to find some balance of spiritual and emotional grace in the world increasingly on the precipice of ruin. Peninsula Sinking offers up eight urgent and electric meditations on the mysteries of death and life, of grief and love, and never shies away from the joy and horror of our submerging world.