Cruise Missile Liberals
Cruise Missile Liberals is Spencer Gordon’s debut trade collection of poetry.
*Note: Author advance and all royalty payments for this book are donated to the Red Door Family Shelter. Learn more about how this organization helps women and families.
WARNING: Cruise Missile Liberals contains few “proper” poems. That is, poems with proper manners, proper etiquette, or proper service to our national narratives. Poems that reassure the powerful. Poems that lie inert—with the smell of the museums. Poems that are, in a word, nice.
Instead, Spencer Gordon’s debut smoulders with explosive contradiction—with a charismatic voice that rewires what we could ask for in a collection. Blending gaudy lyrical excess with blemish-ridden found material, it presents the reader with guiltily pleasurable collisions. It is of the wretched present: online, urban, urbane, and sweetly ironic. These are poems of play, rant, irreverence, and lip; of sparkling newness haunted by the opulent, hungry dead. Works brimming with cheek that, every so often, stiffen to a punch to the gut.
Like an updated Civil Elegies for a digital generation, Cruise Missile Liberals is a blistering debut from an author leaving his own bite-mark on “Canadian Literature.”
Spencer Gordon’s Cruise Missile Liberals is, as its title suggests, a very funny, often despairing book. Jammed with on-point pop and breathtaking turns of phrase, this collection of poems is genuinely compelling: it is hard to stop reading, so sweetly twisted is Gordon’s world.
— Lynn Crosbie, Author of Where Did You Sleep Last Night, Life Is About Losing Everything, and Liar
Hot, hot, hot! Spencer Gordon’s Cruise Missile Liberals is an exquisitely detailed and passionately directed collection which finds vibrant resolve at the intersection of nation and art. With considerable heart and thrilling precision, these poems gratefully adopt the argot (and trouble) of the times and they discover a much different Canada, sweet with chipmunks and as untamable as Sk8er Boi.
— David McGimpsey, Author of Asbestos Heights, Li’l Bastard (Nominated for the Governor General’s Award in Poetry), and Sitcom
There is a generosity of spirit on offer here for we who are tired, placeless, saturated in social media, and wasted on the bright horror of a future that never arrives. This collection is deft, intelligent, and tender, if tenderness is something that can also crush you—an intimacy that panics shut. For we who are “Nature Woke,” “alchemical kids with gold teeth,” “wanting to live as I do, shockingly new,” Gordon sings and memes against “Canada the Good” and presents us with an arresting portrait of our present moment.
— Liz Howard, Author of Infinite Citizen of the Shaking Tent (Winner of the 2016 Griffin Poetry Prize)
Cruise Missile Liberals could easily be called Late Capitalism. Spencer Gordon voices the anger and dejection that many of us feel as we survey the detritus of our political and corporate ideologies and attempt to find an alternative to the cultural crack that has previously pacified us. But Gordon does not patronize us with false hope. “There is no system to replace the ruling system,” he writes in “Ticker Tape.” Elsewhere, he notifies us: “If you are crying, you are not winning. There is no good living.” As a solution: “You should burn down your life.” Like an excitable social media stream, these poems persist to the point of “sincere emotional fatigue” yet somehow Gordon manages to make an art of exhaustion, an art of the rant. Reading Gordon’s poetry and fiction, one feels caught in a Mobius strip where life and entertainment loop infinitely into each other. We are sometimes ourselves and sometimes we are Taylor Swift, Avril Lavigne, and Peppa Pig. Or they are us, our teetering elected representatives.
— Ian Williams, Author of Personals (Shortlisted for the Griffin Poetry Prize), Not Anyone’s Anything, and You Know Who You Are
Quill and Quire Announces the Deal
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An admirer of Miley Cyrus performs a three-thousand word sentence in defence of his passion. Actor Matthew McConaughey descends into a surreal, stupefying desert of the soul. An aging porn star dons a grotesque dinosaur costume to ﬁlm the sex scene of his life. Such are the speakers and stars of a collection of stories that explode the conventions of short ﬁction.
Though shifting wildly in tone, structure and perspective from one page to the next, each of these mercurial stories is drenched in pop culture, the distancing effects of modern communication and the malaise of solitary existence. At their core, these stories are a portrait of ordinary people (as well as celebrities – they’re just like us!) striving, thinking and suffering alone.
Praise for Cosmo
- Listed by Quill and Quire as “Canada’s Most Underrated Book” in 2015.
- Listed as one of Dazed Magazine’s “10 of the best alt-lit reads from Canada right now.”
- Recipient of the 2013 CBC Bookie Award for “Most Underrated Canadian Book.”
- Listed as one of the Most Anticipated Books of 2012, 49th Shelf.
- Listed as one of the Year’s Best Books 2012, The Coast.
- Listed as one of the Top 2,012 Things of 2012, National Post.
- Unabridged audio book available from Recorded Books.
- Sold in Urban Outfitters retail locations across North America!
‘Try any first page here, and, if you are not mouth agape with voyeuristic thrill, then this writer is not Spencer Gordon, one of the most daring writers I’ve ever come across. These stories read like collaborations between Stephen King and TMZ with Borges and Nabokov on the edits. Each short story sounds with the thunder of a novel. Enthralling, dark, gut-busting stuff!’
– Jeff Parker, author of Where Bears Roam the Streets: A Russian Journal and Ovenman
‘Sprung from Spencer Gordon’s media-saturated world and fuelled by his immense talent, Cosmo is a giddy ride of cultural riffs and intoxicating language. And in the midst of this sensual swirl of words, the reader encounters a van-load of profound and mournful truths.’
– Trevor Cole, author of Practical Jean and The Fearsome Particles
‘Demonstrates a refreshing willingness to test the plasticity of language and structure … The 10 stories in Cosmo are an investigation into the nature of authenticity in an age that seems ever more mediated and synthetic. How is it possible to live a meaningful life in the world that lionizes surfaces and shallowness? Gordon provides no comfortable, simplistic answers, but his approach to asking the questions is startling and invigorating.’
– Steven W. Beattie, Quill and Quire, Starred Review
‘Not only a collection of fiction but also a work of cultural criticism … It succeeds not only as a well-wrought and keenly written collection of narratives, but also as a work of analysis … Cosmo is a rare book in that it is brave enough to explore the ways in which being loved in private has a very real counterpoint in public, in the form of fame, public identity and cultural cache. In doing so, Gordon dissects the very idea of the authentic in an increasingly public world in which the self is ever more constructed.’
– Natalie Zina Walschots, National Post
‘The cheek and irony serve as mechanisms for a throat-punchingly intimate portrayal of doubt and self-loss … Cosmo presents its stakes loudly and clearly, tinged as much in neon as in sepia—or maybe a heartbreakingly tacky sepia-toned filter. These are arresting stories, and as voyeurs and disciples and melancholics, we are all made implicit in this grotesquification.’
– Rob Benvie, HTMLGIANT
‘Disarming, technically accomplished … deserves a wide readership … Gordon finds what matters in his exploration of one of the widest varieties of psyches you are likely to come across in short fiction.’
– Victor Enns, Winnipeg Free Press
‘In his first collection of fiction, Cosmo, Spencer Gordon shows us his Mariah Carey-esque range. With expert wordsmithery, Gordon moves from affecting familial realism to absurd vision quests in celebrity to experimental palate cleansers … Brave, poignant, and hilarious.’
– Caitlynn Cummings, This Magazine
‘His stories are fun, intoxicating, and the language is drunk on a high-energy style more lively than a dancefloor … His work is other-worldly, and his imagination rocket-launches CanLit to brave new heights, soaring past the black hole of sameness and familiarity of story that most of CanLit gets sucked into … You haven’t read a voice like this before, and you won’t forget it either.’
– Chad Pelley, Telegraph-Journal (Saint John)
‘Cosmo is impossible to tear away from without gushing embarrassing mawkishness … Gordon has the rare ability, startling when revealed, when flexed, to make one laugh (this is a wildly funny book), then, and within such tight proximity, perhaps even feel a choke.’
– Karl Fenske, Lemon Hound
‘Both heartwarming and heartbreaking … an intriguing and insightful cultural artifact.’
– Keith Cadieux, The Winnipeg Review
‘Spencer Gordon goes places I didn’t know a writer outside of TMZ could go.’
– Alessandra Ferreri, Book Stylist
‘Not your average collection of short stories … A dark collection, filled with murder and fear … [with] a faint undercurrent of hope … A fast and interesting read that may leave you breathless.’
– Merry Hakin, Scene (London)
‘I salute it. It is difficult and a riddle; it is art … Bravo.’
– Michael Bryson, Underground Book Club
‘His prose has this wonderfully hallucinatory surreal quality. He isn’t afraid of long sentences and lush exuberant poetic language. Even the comic sections have this underlying throbbing intensity that never lets up.’
– Barry Webster, CBC Canada Writes
‘Spencer’s highly-lauded collection of short stories, Cosmo, is like reading Brief Interviews with Hideous Men scrawled into the margins of People magazine. His technical ability is never in question while you read through the tales, and there’s a palpable delight evident on the page as he cuts to the unlikely emotional hearts of situations and characters you may never have considered in the same way.’
– Katie Fewster-Yan & Kris Bone, Ruckus Reading Series
‘Gordon has complete command over his weirdness and can make a reader feel right at home … I don’t know how he does it, but I felt as deeply involved and related to those characters as I do in any kitchen-sink realism—and this was a lot funnier too.’
– Rebecca Rosenblum, CBC Canada Writes