Ahead of our exciting event with the brilliant Miriam Toews on June 6th, we are delighted to be able to bring you a Mr B’s EXCLUSIVE extract of her hilarious new novel, Fight Night. You can book tickets to the event by clicking here. In the meantime, enjoy this taste of the riotous, hilarious Swiv and her adventures with her very unique family…

Grandma likes to sit on the top step of our front porch and water the flowers and fall asleep in the sun. She tilts her head way back to feel the warm sun on her face. The instant she falls asleep she loses her grip on the hose and it flips all over the place and sprays her awake and then she knows she’s had her nap and also accomplished a household task. She sprays cops when they have their windows down and are cruising slowly past our house because she hates them after what they did when Grandpa died, and just period. When they get out of the car and walk up to her she says things like, Here comes Rocket Man! Send in the clowns! The cops smile because they think she’s just a crazy old lady. But she really means business. She hates them. She doesn’t want to hate anybody but she can’t help it and she isn’t even going to pray about it because she thinks God secretly hates them too. When they ask all the usual questions, she doesn’t say a word. She points the hose at their little armoured feet if even one inch of a boot is on our yard and forces them to back onto the sidewalk.

Grandma likes to tell Mom we’ve accomplished household tasks every day because Mom is having a complete nervous breakdown and a geriatric pregnancy which doesn’t mean she’s going to push an old geezer out of her vag, it means she’s too old to be up the stump and is so exhausted and when she comes home from rehearsals she’s all, God, what a mess, god you guys, what a dump, you can’t pour fat down the drain, these pipes are ancient, you can’t overload the toilet with toilet paper, why are there conchigliettes everywhere, can’t you two pick up a dish or put this shit away or have you ever even heard of household tasks? Mom’s latest domestic freak-out is that she always has to put all the food that’s in the fridge at the very outer edges of the racks so that it’s entirely visible to Grandma, otherwise Grandma thinks there’s no food because she can’t see it, and she doesn’t move things around to see the food in the back of the fridge and then she orders take-out or just eats ice cream or bacon or handfuls of cereal from the box. So now Mom lines everything up in a row on the outer edges of the fridge racks with labels like THIS IS LENTIL CHILI! EAT IT! THIS IS KALE SALAD! EAT IT! Grandma doesn’t eat anything green. Not a single thing, ever. It’s like Samson and his hair. He can’t cut it or he’ll lose his strength. Grandma can’t eat green things. She can detect green things in her food when Mom tries to hide them in there. I’m not going to spend my last five minutes on earth eating rabbit food! She takes a long time, like it’s an opera or something, after she’s detected the green things, to slowly pick them out of her food one by one and put them on the table beside her plate. Mom sighs and takes the pile and eats it herself but she never stops trying to trick Grandma and Grandma never stops not being tricked. Grandma won’t eat red soup. Mom made borscht for us and Grandma said I am not eating red soup. Why not? Because I don’t eat red soup!

Mom says to me, Don’t say up the stump, don’t say that thing about a skunk’s asshole, don’t say vag, don’t say shit tickets. And Mom says to Grandma, Use the subtitles or top volume when you watch Call the Midwife, not both. Why would you use both! What difference does it make to you if I use both? It’s using too many of your senses at once! Na oba! It’s up to me how I use my senses! Grandma loses her hearing aids in the exact same places every day. I try to keep all her dead batteries in an old thyme tin to bring them to the right part of the garbage dump but yesterday Mom was so exhausted from her rehearsals and carrying Gord around 24-7 that she mistakenly shook the batteries into the spaghetti sauce and we had to pick them out at dinnertime and make tiny piles of them next to our plates, which in Mom’s case is next to piles of Kleenex from blowing her nose constantly.

Fight Night, Miriam Toews

We hope you enjoyed this extract – to book tickets the event, click here.