First Fiction Friday: Army of the Brave and Accidental

After a big launch at Toronto’s Another Story Bookshop last night, we’re celebrating the debut novel from essayist, editor, and critic Alex Boyd, Army of the Brave and Accidental (Nightwood Editions). Learn how this book stacks Toronto against other world cities, uses mythology to link together a plot, and why it might be Boyd’s only novel.


What:Army of the Brave and Accidental (Nightwood Editions, 2018) Who:Alex Boyd is a Canadian essayist, editor, critic and author of the poetry collection Making Bones Walk. Boyd hosted the IV Lounge Reading Series in Toronto and co-edited IV Lounge Nights, an anthology to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the series. Boyd also established Northern Poetry Review, a site for poetry articles and reviews, in April 2006. In 2008, he established Digital Popcorn, a site for personal film reviews, and has recently helped launch the Best Canadian Essays series with Tightrope Books, co-editing the first two collections. His second book of poems, The Least Important Man, was published by Biblioasis in 2012. Boyd lives in Toronto, ON. Why you need to read this now: Army of the Brave and Accidental could be the authors only novel – all told. Boyd has been working on this for the better part of a decade, and this fixture in the Toronto literary community’s debut novel is going to be special for many reasons. For Boyd the themes and ideas are quintessential. “The book started as a writing exercise, and to make it flexible and more fun I had the main character falling through time. It made sense to use some my travel experience, blending Toronto with other cities like New York and London. It was a way of including Toronto in the same breath with other cities of the world without being overly heavy-handed about it.”Army of the Brave and Accidental is funny, deft, wise and poetic all at once. The epic spans major cities such as Toronto and New York and is a coming-of-age story, a journey, a love story and a tragi-comedy.Of the novel, Nathan Whitlock, author of A Week of This and Congratulations on Everything says, “Not content merely to reboot The Odyssey, Alex Boyd’s debut novel sails on seas of ambition, moving deftly between locations, characters, eras, genres and stories. A modern tall tale that makes plenty of room for magic both extraordinary and everyday.” Boyd is perhaps suggesting that while experience can be gained rushing around, it’s also possible to learn things by focusing on one place and really getting a gander at what is in front of us, similar to birdwatching. “Poets are more concerned with details and moments and I had to look around for a plot. It was like having a lot of ornaments and nowhere to hang them, so I borrowed a bit of mythology to retell,” Boyd explains. X plus Y:To arrive at Army of the Brave and Accidental, mix The Odyssey with a pinch of The Twilight Zone and Yellow Submarine as well as some Doctor Who and the original Star Trek.
* * *Thanks to Nathaniel at Nightwood for sharing Alex’s novel with us. For more debut fiction, click here.