Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Nathan Whitlock 2008's blog

Open and Close

And so ends my reign as Open Book's Writer in Residence.

Many thanks to Amy Logan Holmes and Clelia Scala and the whole OB:T empire for allowing me to hang around here for the month.

Small press success

I’m a small press author – and a grateful one at that – but I’ve never been a small press fundamentalist. Though I think it goes without saying that small presses are more willing to publish daring and unconventional work, an interesting side effect of their relative success in Canada is the extent to which a lot of the stuff that comes out with a small press could just have easily been published by a large, mainstream multinational. There’s a lot of aesthetic overlap, and occasionally some small presses are guilty of putting out work just as dull and conventional as the latest Giller-scented doorstop novel.

Alice Munro's gone and back again

Alice Munro is to retirement what David Bowie is to, well, retirement. Munro hinted and teased and suggested that her previous collection, The View From Castle Rock, was her final bow.

And yet, a new collection is apparently coming in 2009, and a new story appears in the latest issue of The New Yorker. Munro’s “Going I Must Be, Hello”* routine got noticed by Papercuts, The New York Times’ book blog.

By sheer coincidence, I just read Munro’s interview in the The Paris Review Interviews, II, in which she – way back in 1994 – talked about the possibility of giving it all up:

Why I hate books

To truly love something, you must be able to truly hate it, as well. And that counts for books, too, which are all too often offered a kind of blanket amnesty in the form of "appreciation."

On that note, Rod Liddle goes off on a tear about his most-hated books in the Times Online.

Talk show host says boys' books are "emasculating"

Glenn Beck, a babyfaced right-wing pundit with his own show on CNN, is one of the dimmer bulbs in the neoconservative cheerleading squad.

Recently, before an interview with YA author Ted Ball, Beck had this to say about the state of boys' fiction:

“I have three daughters and a son, and I have to tell you, it’s easy to find books for girls, it’s very hard to find books [for boys]... you know, they used to be, they used to be manuals for growing up and being a good, strong, honest man, right? Today, try to find one that’s aimed at young, male readers – they are emasculating.”

(Watch the segment here.)

Too much swearing? WTF?

I mentioned in my post about literary envy that I have been doing my best to be zen-like in my reaction to reviews of my novel, to see positive and negative reviews as merely two different expression of the same idea – namely, that my book was worth reviewing in the first place.

Granted, I've done some grumbling up my sleeve – and up the sleeves of others – but I think I've done a decent job of accentuating the positive. (Booze and a boundless ego help.)

One thing that does have my puzzled, however, and which has been a near-constant feature of both the positive and negative reviews, is repeated references to the amount of swearing done by the characters in the book.

Don't Quit Your Day Job

Time, more than anything else, is a writer's most needed resource. You simply can't write anything without a long stretch of time to do it in. Though they sometimes get mistaken for income supplements or even bonuses for simply being the kind of person who gets off on putting words on paper, the real purpose of writing grants are to help writers freeze time for a while.

Which is why jobs are often seen as anathema to the writing life. (Well, that's one of the reasons, anyway...) And it's true that, for a lot of imaginative writing, a demanding day job can act as a frustrating road block to creation.

There are writers, however, who are reluctant to sever that link with the non-literary world. Including, apparently, Egypt's bestselling author...

Andrew Pyper and literary envy

I’m right in the middle of reading Andrew Pyper’s newest novel, The Killing Circle, about a shadowy serial killer stalking a wannabe writer. (I will be interviewing Pyper onstage at the Toronto launch of the book in August, as part of This is Not A Reading Series)

One of the themes running through the book is that of literary envy, and I have to admit, I had my own pang of painful self-recognition when I read this bit, in which the narrator confesses why he had to stop reading The New York Times Book Review:

Rawi Hage and the IMPAC, plus some Giller things

As you've probably heard, Montrealer Rawi Hage won the Dublin IMPAC for his first novel, De Niro's Game (House of Anansi Press).

It's an astonishing and deserved win. Congratulations, Rawi.

Read a profile of Hage from the new issue of Quill & Quire (shameless day-job plug) here.

For more Hage-related reading, feel free to go waaayy back to 2006 for a discussion of the Giller Prize that year. (Hage was nominated, but lost out to Vincent Lam.)

And if that whets your appetite for lengthy Giller diatribes, then read this essay by Alex Good.

Interview with Zachariah Wells on Jailbreaks: 99 Canadian Sonnets

Tonight (Wednesday, June 11), The IV Lounge Reading Series will be hosting the launch of Jailbreaks: 99 Canadian Sonnets (Biblioasis Press). The anthology includes poems by Milton Acorn, Margaret Avison, Ken Babstock, George Elliott Clarke, Leonard Cohen, Irving Layton, Malcolm Lowry, Gwendolyn MacEwen, Don McKay, Eric Ormsby, Pino Collucio, Bookninja's George Murray, Stuart Ross, Goran Simić, Karen Solie, and dozens of others.

The launch will be held at the IV Lounge at 326 Dundas St W, across from the AGO. It starts at around 8pm.

I interviewed poet and anthology editor Zachariah Wells by e-mail as he was running around getting ready to fly from his home in Vanvouver to Toronto...

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