Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Read Ontario, with Cary Fagan

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Cary Fagan

Ontario boasts a wealth of fantastic writers and amazing stories, and this October and November the Ontario Book Publishers Organization is highlighting a selection of the province's finest writing from great Ontario publishers. There's no better time to “Read Ontario”!

Today we welcome Cary Fagan, the author of A Bird's Eye (Anansi). A Bird's Eye was shortlisted for the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize and tells the story of young Benjamin Kleeman, an aspiring magician in 1930s Toronto. Praised for mixing humour, history and tenderness, the novel has been compared to the likes of Michael Chabon.

Cary talks with Open Book about writing all over Ontario (from Toronto to Wawa), buying groceries in Marathon and a the best possible Bar Mitzvah gift.

Visit a participating Read Ontario independent bookstore to get a copy of A Bird's Eye, or click here for details on how you can enter to win 42 fantastic Read Ontario books.

Read Ontario: Cary Fagan — Where Do You Write in Ontario?

I grew up in the suburbs of Toronto and moved downtown more than thirty years ago. I started as a kid, writing at the same desk where I did my homework, on a portable electric Smith Corona typewriter that I got for my Bar Mitzvah. (I thought it was a magnificent gift.) Now I live in the Dufferin Grove neighbourhood of Toronto and work in my little third-floor study or, when I need to get away from all the paper and notes, in one of the kids’ rooms or at the dining room table. I’ve also been writing in cafes lately, several times a week, and in this neighbourhood I have the choice of four or five. But I do love to get out of town.

For years my wife’s family owned a cottage on farmland near Meaford, Ontario. It was on a rise and you could just see the waters of Georgian Bay. That was a good place to work, quiet but for the wind in the wheat and the occasional sound of my mandolin or banjo when I needed a break from writing. But alas, the place had to be sold this year. We’ll need to find somewhere to rent where we can work and breathe.

We do love to explore the province. This summer, when the kids were all occupied, Rebecca and I headed north of Lake Superior for a couple of weeks of hiking, writing and mosquito-swatting. We picked up a week’s groceries in Marathon and stayed for a week in a cabin near Sleeping Giant Provincial Park. The second week we stayed outside of Wawa, also on the lake, so that we could hike in Lake Superior Provincial Park. It’s glorious country, as beautiful as anywhere in Canada, and I’d love to go back.

Read Ontario: Cary Fagan — If I could write anywhere in Ontario

I’d love to spend some time in one of the bigger towns/smaller cities in the province. Many years ago I lived in London, Ontario for a year and a half, and although London isn’t small I managed to attend just about every cultural event on offer, from going to the Grand Theatre to watching the lighting of the Christmas tree in Victoria Park. If I could go somewhere else now, I think I’d choose Guelph. I don’t know the place at all but have always heard good things about it. When I’m writing, I like to know that there are attractive streets to walk on, maybe a bookstore to browse in, a café, and a place to hear some music in the at night.

When I was travelling north of Lake Superior this summer, I looked at the map and thought of Moosonee, right at the bottom of James Bay. I don’t know anything about Moosonee but I suddenly wanted to go. I still do.

Cary Fagan is the award-winning author of several books for children and adults, including Jacob Two-Two on the High Seas. Visit Cary Fagan's website at

For more information about A Bird's Eye please visit the House of Anansi website.

Buy this book at your local independent bookstore or online at Chapters/Indigo or Amazon.

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