Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Literary Holiday Parties: Beattie, McGimpsey, Porco

Share |

You're having a holiday party, and can invite any number of literary figures, living, dead, or fictional - who's invited, and why?

Here and in the coming weeks, I'll post the many answers I received to this question! Today's theme is "dudes", as in "here are three dudes who answered my question. Dude."

Steven W. Beattie

Well, at a shot, the guest list might look something like this:

Dorothy Parker, because every dinner party needs a good conversationalist who loves gossip, is hugely funny, and is unwilling to pull any rhetorical punches.

Oscar Wilde: ditto.

Henry James, because he is the epitome of good taste and erudition.

Charles Bukowski, as an antidote to Henry James. (The downside being he'd likely drink all the booze and put the moves on Dorothy Parker.)

Hannibal Lecter, for his knowledge of fine (if somewhat dubious in origin) cuisine, good wine, and classical music, and because he'd be able to take care of Bukowski should he get out of line.

James Ellroy, because he's a great talker.

Flannery O'Connor, for her complete lack of political correctness and sharp sense of humour.

Franz Kafka, as a gesture of thanks and commiseration for how prescient he was all those years ago.

Agatha Christie, to solve the mystery of which one of us committed the inevitable murder. (In true Christie fashion, it would have to be the least likely suspect, which would rule out Hannibal Lecter right off the bat.)


David McGimpsey

If I was having a holiday party, and could invite any number of literary figures, I'd invite New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning, legendary rocker Alice Cooper, American actress Connie Britton, Canadian author Lynn Crosbie, and Renaissance poet / troubadour John Dowland.

Some might say that two time Super Bowl champion Eli Manning is not a "literary figure" and I'm sure he would agree but I would love to explain to him why he appears and will appear so often in my own literary work. That's gotta count for something. Perhaps he'll get a kick out of the precis my upcoming The Eliiad as he is given charge of carving the holiday turducken. Alice Cooper, of course, because of his poetic lyrics (i.e. "I'm swimming in blood / Like a rat on a sewer flow") and how they've inspired a generation of poets. Maybe he would amuse us all by staging a mock execution under the mistletoe. I'd also like to ask Connie Britton because she's great in every role she plays. That may not be "literary" in the strict sense and if that bothers anyone just imagine that if I said Joyce Carol Oates I would have obviously meant Connie Britton anyway. So, Connie Britton. I'd invite Lynn Crosbie because I love her and her work and wouldn't want to hog having cranberry sauce with the Coop all to myself. That would be Santa-enraging wrong. Finally I'd invite John Dowland so he could play the lute as supper concluded and we all got heavy into the nog. Nobody wrote sadder lyrics than Dowland and as I considered again the mighty context of the "literary" how welcome it would be to watch the snow fall gently outside and hear him sing "Come heavy sleep / The image of true death".

Alessandro Porco

1. Ralph Ellison

"If friendships between writers are not strong enough to overcome these built-in sources of conflict and competition, they fail, but if the relationship has been fruitful it finds continuity in the works of art that came into being during the quiet moments of antagonistic cooperation which marked the friendship."

2. Pierre Bourdieu

"In sum, it does not suffice to break with ordinary common sense, or with scholarly common sense in its ordinary form. We must also break with the instruments of rupture which negate the very experience against which they have been constructed."

3. Paul Blackburn

"Love is not enuf
Friendship is not enuf
Not even art
is / Life is too much"

4. Ezra Pound

"Nothing counts save the quality of the affection"

5. Rakim

"It ain't where you're from, it's where you're at."



Steven W. Beattie is the review editor at Quill & Quire. He administers the literary site That Shakespearean Rag.

David McGimpsey's most recent book is Li'l Bastard (Coach House Books) which was shortlisted for the Governor General's award. He lives and works in Montreal.

Alessandro Porco is the author of The Minutes: I-X (BookThug 2011) and Augustine in Carthage, and Other Poems (ECW, 2008). He is Assistant Professor of Poetry and Poetics at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington.


The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

Related item from our archives

Sachiko Murakami

Sachiko Murakami is the author of the poetry collections The Invisibility Exhibit (Talonbooks, 2008), a finalist for the Governor General’s Literary Award and the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award, and Rebuild (Talonbooks, 2011). She lives in Toronto.

Go to Sachiko Murakami’s Author Page