Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

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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...

soccer and books, books and soccer

The area of town I live in – Lansdowne and Bloor – is heavily Portuguese, so Portugal's win over Turkey at the Euro Cup on Saturday did not go unnoticed. Every nearby sports bar was spilling over with fans in red, gold, and green, and when the game was over, those same fans quickly hopped into their flag-draped cars and spent the next few hours riding around honking their horns. Even as late as one in the morning you could hear the odd lonely superfan honking at darkened houses and empty parking lots.

YouTube: an author's fairweather friend

From the Wall Street Journal:

"In a book industry flooded with titles and facing sluggish sales, a growing number of authors are going to dramatic lengths to attract attention. The latest tactic: producing and starring in zany videos aimed at the YouTube audience.

Publishing houses strongly encourage the practice, though some authors find the videos undignified. Thriller writer Vince Flynn says he felt 'like a dork" when he recently recorded a book trailer in Central Park. 'I know a lot of old-school writers resent it,' says Paul Aiken, executive director of the Authors Guild. 'But it might help sell books.'"

It's a long story

Years ago I used to send off pretty much everything I wrote to various literary magazines and quarterlies, but at some point I gave up. Writing fiction (and, to a greater extent I suppose, poetry) is a process of delayed (or permanently deferred) gratification, as it is. In most cases, the real joy – which comes mixed in with a lot of anguish, teeth-gnashing, doubt, envy, frustration, fear, resentment, hopelessness, and lethargy – is in the process of writing itself. The joy of having something published and, better yet, read, is an important one, but has to be waited on. By the time it comes, you are usually (hopefully) working on something else, so it feels less direct. It’s a pat on the back, sometimes literally.

Nattering Naipauls of Negativity

From The Independent:

"The novelist V S Naipaul has damned the achievements of his literary contemporaries by declaring that there are 'no more great writers.'

Naipaul, 75, who won the Booker in 1971 and the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2001, is said to have called this year's Hay-on-Wye Literary Festival 'unimportant and meaningless'."

Naipaul went on to say that Iron Man is totally overrated, Daniel Day-Lewis can’t act, and there hasn’t been anything remotely funny on YouTube since 2006...

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