Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015



6. OMFG. A Radio Personality Called.

Eff you, Esteemed Book Editor. A certain Radio Personality (the “RP”) of the national broadcaster wants to talk to me on the air. OK, he didn’t call actually. His producer called.

This is like being asked to dance by the really good looking guy in Grade Eleven who drinks beer out of the back of his pick-up and has forearms like wrought iron from hauling nets with his father and lifting fish pans (sorry, this is not a culturally accessible image for mainland Canadian girls perhaps).


5. Neurotic Writer Waits for Attention (or Look at me, I Wrote a Book)

Every Saturday I am not reviewed by an Esteemed Books Editor (“EBE”) in A Large National Paper’s First Fiction section. Every Saturday, I start the weekend by being almost pushed down the stairs by 3 ravenous, raccoon-sized cats, who shove me into the kitchen before I can make the turn to go to the front door. As I pour the kibble, I think, please EBE, please. He does not hear my silent praying. It never occurs to me to actually take this up with God, who has often hung me out to dry as an intervener in the past. Now I pray directly to the guy who can make things happen. Please EBE.


4. After the Party’s Over

The pinnacle of the beginning of the process is the launch party.

Cormorant threw a shindig and people I hadn’t seen in years came. Family flew in from other places to surprise me. I bought a new dress (described by my less-than-tactful friend as ‘conservative’ and ‘slippery’, although that seems to be an impossible combination to me).

After the party, I spent the weekend with my surprise guests, dissecting with my siblings which part of the book was most likely to trigger Mom’s stroke. They of course underestimate her, as she’s far tougher than she seems at 82.


3. "Is it autobiographical? At all?” they say.

In addition to buying my book, people I know are now reading it. My co-workers and friends are a bit surprised about some of the language and the adult content in my coming-of-age story. “Do you know that there are a lot of bad words in your book?” someone at the office asked the other day. I nodded. “Did you put them there?” he said. I wanted to blame the salty language on my publisher, as I did when my mom commented on the “F” and “C” words in the book (sorry Marc Côté, but my mom thinks you’re a potty mouth and a bad influence. I am not allowed to invite you to my next birthday party.)

The Wallflower Confessions

2. Exposed

Publishing is like standing naked on the Don Mills Overpass above the 401 at 8 a.m. on the first Tuesday morning in September after Labour Day.

There use to be a person who stood there, blessing the traffic I think. She may not have been at Don Mills, but it was some where in the northeast part of the city. She always looked cold and vulnerable, even though she was fully clothed. She wore a white robe that the wind pinned to her frame.

Here’s how this book thing happened. For six years, I worked intermittently on the story. For two years I waited while the publisher got to me, as they worked on their then current lists. Then I worked some more, trying to make the story a coherent narrative. I waited some more while it went to the printer.

The Wallflower Confessions

1. Be nice to me. It’s my first time.

No Beautiful Shore is my first work of fiction. Publishing your first story is a big deal for any writer, but for someone who is terminally shy it’s terrifying. Publishing implies that someone will want to hear what you have to say, but I’ve never had the relevant body parts to imagine that someone would want to read what I made up.

Now, however, I am exposed. I am outed as a writer. And you know what? I am thinking that writing is probably the best outlet for wallflowers like me. Writers get to be the centre of attention without being the centre of attention. We get to say our bit without having some short, blond girl with a perky nose look away bored, just to put us in our place.

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.

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