Saturday, January 08, 2005

Reader responses to As My Sparks Fly Upward & Other Stories



November 2003
matt,

I read your story at eyeshot. solid stuff. i went and checked out your site as well...kept me entertained for quite some time; i’m sure my employer loves that.

anywho, just wanted to let you know that i’m goona go and buy your book...

keep up the good work.
best,
peter

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October 2003

dear matthew,

last month i was attending a reading, benefitting the online literary magazine small spiral notebook. jonathan ames read from his soon-to-be published novel. he is hilarious. there were many prizes being raffled, and i won an autoraphed copy of your book, as my sparks fly upward. normally, i don’t make the effort to seek out worthy books from the independent press. in fact, i find it quite distressing to know that there is so much amazing writing (similar to amazing music) that i have no idea is in existence. it’s overwhelming. but i found your book to be real, honest, vulnerable. You have a very engaging style that propells a reader through your prose. I especially enjoy your skill for dialogue. “Hadley” was touching, and “Under the Bridge” was quite compelling.

I am a 26-year-old writer, living in New York City. A journalist by education, I used to write for an actors’ trade magazine in L.A., now a managing editor for children’s books (Scholastic, the house that Harry Potter built, as I sarcastically refer to it).

thank you for sharing your writing.

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August 2003

Dear Matthew,

Yesterday in Chapters book store in Windsor, Ontario I spotted a new release with cover art that looked a lot like The Ambassador Bridge. Of course, it was your book and it was indeed the Ambassador Bridge. Ironically, I wanted a book to read last night while I worked an overtime shift at The Ambassador Bridge. I am a Windsor Police officer and we’ve been posted at the bridge since the September 11th terrorism incident. I read ‘As My Sparks Fly Upward’ completely last night. I read constantly, fiction and non-fiction, ranging from Jimmy Buffett to Hemingway. Your book is absolutely excellent. As I read your stories I was amazed at the similarities between them and events in my life. Two years ago I had to talk my best-friend into marrying a woman who I thought (and still think) is a beast. In my teenaged years I was mesmerized by U2 and my life revolved around the band. I have often pondered the impact my fan worship of U2 had on the person I have become. I was flabbergasted while I read those stories because it was so much like reading memoirs of my life which I have never written. A short time ago I was nearly killed on duty. Only two weeks ago I found myself sitting at a quiet Windsor bar thinking about how close I came to death and what I should do with the rest of my life. If you still reside in the Windsor area you may be acquainted from the newspaper coverage with the incident and subsequent trial in which a Windsor taxi driver ran down a family with his taxi, killing a little boy, then ramming my police car in an attempt to kill himself and me. I’ve lived the stories in your book.

I was so impressed by your book, pleasantly surprised that its author is a fellow Windsorite, and had such a deja-vu experience from reading it that I wanted to drop you an email.

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August 2003

Hey Matt,

I’ve been reading your book throughout the weekend, I’m almost finished, got one story left I believe. I’m really enjoying your stories, I started with “Best Man” and completely sympathized with you. However, I figured that I’d tell all this to you on Monday over our habitual lunchtime Pool game, but after reading “Hadley” I felt compelled to e-mail you. This is not to say your other work isn’t good, I just felt this story was fantastic. It captured the essence of first love that we’ve all had, and combined it with those summer loves I’ve known, and wished could have ended differently. My heart ached when I read the letter from Hadley at the end, and I’m not an overly emotional guy. It was a great story without falling into love story clich├ęs or excessive sentimentality.

Thanks for the book, the stories and reliving all those memories of my own.

Talk to you later,
Dave

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August 2003

“And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free” (John 8:32) Bono grew up on Dublin’s Cedarwood Road, which is not in Ballymun. Please visit www.Ballymun.info and click on About Ballymun for a detailed map of the area. Of the five neighborhoods in Ballymun, Cedarwood Road is not in any of them. My family moved onto Cedarwood Road in 1962 and all documents listed the road as Ballygall. Further, Cedarwood Road is under the police jurisdiction of Finglas Garda Station (not Ballymun Garda Station) and is under the health jurisdiction of Ballygall Health Center (not Ballymun Health Center). Ballygall is between Ballymun and Finglas. At the entrance to Cedarwood Road is Willow Park Crescent where one can see the Ballymun towers in the distance. However, a view of those towers in the distance has never placed Cedarwood Road in Ballymun. For further details, one can refer to the Ordanance Survey Ireland (OSI) map of Dublin.

God Bless,
Alan

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May 2003

Had a great read of your site today, a good gut wobbling laugh (yes gut is impressive) at the re-inactment of your trip to Dun Laoughaire with your folks!!!!! Still remember the Orla incident as well, but however I must confess never realised you heaved in the dustbin in the Dav kitchen - unfortntely it is probably not a record considering the company we kept (and still remains today)...

Have just thought of the Sunday afternoon we had in that pub opposite the chipper (can’t remember name) when all the lads from england were going home - nothing like an innocent cure at 12 noon, with the deadly effect leaving you absolutely fucked by 6pm. I think the Pope should have made (at least) one of his 128 new saints on Sunday (yes I even read the paper) responsible for the lovely effects of drink. Just imagine having a ‘Saint of Hangovers’ or ‘Saint to Pissheads’ to curse.

Well nearly enough rambling, hope your lovely wife is well, will atempt to plug away at these keys on a more regular basis.

Best regards
Paddy

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May 2003

I just read the excerpt of As My Sparks Fly Upward thanks to a link on u2log.com. Just had to say it’s one of the better tributes to the fan impulse I’ve read. Thanks.

Angela

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March 2003

Hello,

I happened along your website while searching for a totally different agenda, and found myself forgetting the task at hand and reading all you had to say on the site.

I could relate to much of what you wrote as I am from Windsor myself and also grew up for part of the time in the same area as you did. I am guessing that I am older than you and if you knew anyone in my family it would be either my younger sister Patricia (Pat or Trish) or Jimmy the youngest.

Your experiences in Ireland interested me because that is where my families roots are. I immigrated to Canada with my family when I was quite young. My grandfather was born in Ireland and left at 14 to go to Scotland for work, as many did in that period. I have enjoyed working on some family genealogy and have become somewhat of the family historian.

Well enough of all that, just wanted to say how much I enjoyed your writings you put magic in the words as you describe experiences when you were young that we have all experienced but most of us are afraid to talk about or admit to for fear of embarrassment.

Good Luck in your future ventures and thanks for sharing.

Anne Marie

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January 2003

I just wanted to ssay I just finised reading you collection of short stories and am using the along with no Great Mischief as a comparison for my ISU in grade 13 english. I am also a windsor resident and that is why I chose to do my project on your book as well I met you at chapters. I am wondering if you have any insight that you could share with me in regards to your book and alistair’s being similar. and how you were influenced by him thank you muchly - from cassandra

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January 2003

Dear Matthew,

I grew up on Bridge Avenue, directly across the street from your father’s boyhood home. I remember well your grandmother, Mrs. St. Amand, who was always reminding me about my “poor mother,” who had nine children, and your Uncle Donald’s Ford Galaxy 500, convertible, the greatest car ever invented by Detroit. Your father sponsored me at my confirmation, and I took Andre as my name. I was the altar boy at your parents’ wedding in the Assumption University Chapel. I can still see Mrs. St. Amand crying in the front pew. I also remember your maternal grandfather, Mr. Hickey, who never seemed to be without his hat and pipe, regardless o f the season or the time of day. I suppose, he is your connection to Ireland.

All of which brings me to your book, “As My Sparks Fly Upward.” My father told me about it over the phone. He had read the story about it in the “Windsor Star,” and when I was down in Windsor this past weekend, I picked up a copy. So far, I have read the first four stories. Windsor -- dear, crummy, crowded Windsor -- does suffocate but it never quite kills. Spend some time away from it, and one realizes just how intensely in love you are with the place. Leave it, and you’ll start writing about it. I’m an historian by trade, foostering around in footnotes for a living, but I’ve spent whacks of time writing poems and short stories and journal pieces on Windsor: Bridge Avenue, Shore Acres, Sacred Heart School, Assumption High, Holy Name of Mary, the university campus (where I was a student for five years), the Bridge House, Thursday night Spitfire hockey games, the DH, the Detroit River, Tiger Stadium, Erie Street, and on and on. I know what you mean....

Congratulations on getting your stories published. You’re very good at setting the scene and with dialogue, no easy task.

(You are a dead ringer for your father.)

Wishing you all the best, I remain,
Yours sincerely,
Michael

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