Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015


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Sex and the socialites
The London Sunday Times this week has a fascinating long excerpt from Paula Byrne's forthcoming book Mad World: Evelyn Waugh and the Secrets of Brideshead. Anyone familiar with Brideshead Revisited, or the life and other works of Waugh, will be engrossed by this piece, which lays bare (so to speak) all the delectable real-life scandal and naughtiness that gave birth to Waugh's masterpiece. Here's just a wee a snippet: Fast cars, faster women and sexual experimentation: the parties got wilder. Drug abuse — particularly cocaine and hashish — was rife. Evelyn Waugh, embarking on his career as one of Britain’s finest writers, chronicled every excessive detail. He went to a lesbian party where a baronet “dressed first as a girl and then stark naked” danced the charleston while a Russian played a saw like a violin.

Literary tête-à-tête
Meanwhile, those interested in Hemingway will want to read Brad Frenette's interview, in the National Post's The Afterword, with Sean Hemingway, grandson of Ernest. The two discuss a new edition of A Moveable Feast, which Sean Hemingway says he has restored to his grandfather's original text, using the original manuscript. His comments are fascinating if read in tandem with those made by Hemingway friend and biographer A. E. Hotchner in a recent New York Times Op-ed, which he wrote in reaction to the new edition. A Moveable Feast, of course, was published posthumously, and Sean Hemingway claims that the version originally published by Scribner in 1964 was edited significantly by Mary Hemingway after Papa's death and does not represent the book his grandfather had actually wanted to publish. Hotchner insists that in 1959, while visiting Hemingway in Cuba, Hemingway gave him the finished manuscript of A Moveable Feast to deliver to Charles Scribner Jr. in New York and that what was eventually published was essentially the same material. Sean Hemingway claims he worked from his grandfather's original handwritten manuscript, produced in the late 1950s, and that he restored much of the text that was cut out by Mary Hemingway. Hotchner claims he was present in 1956, when Charles Ritz, of Paris' Ritz Hotel, produced for Hemingway a suitcase he had left in storage at the hotel in 1930 and which, it turned out, contained Papa's notebooks that formed the basis of A Moveable Feast. Something makes me think this isn't the last we'll here of this little spat.

Baffled booker bookies
Apparently London bookies are baffled by the fact that 95% of the bets made so far in this year's Booker contest have been for Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall. "It is as though a tip has gone around the literary world telling everyone that Mantel is a certainty," the Independent quotes odds-maker Graham Sharp as saying. The article goes on to remind us of that infamous 2002 contest when "bookmakers had to suspend betting on the outcome of the Booker prize after the award's official website accidentally displayed a dummy page naming Life of Pi's author Yann Martel as the winner." Nothing of the sort has happened this year. Nonetheless, not since 2002 has early betting so clearly pointed to one book.

Wilson's "Won't Do" list
There's a wonderful note, reproduced on, showing a list of the many things (21 in total) that Edmund Wilson simply would not do in his wrole as a writer, most of which these days are considered necessary — if not mandatory — for most writers if they want to continue paying the rent. They include: "Judge literary contests", "Give interviews", and "Autograph books for strangers". A handwritten addition at the top of the list reads: "I don't [do] live readings either unless I’m offered a very large fee.” No doubt if Wilson were alive today, "Blogging" would be on the list as well. Ahem. (Thanks to bookninja.)

Born on third
This makes my skin crawl. In large part because, as the writer says, I really do want to dislike this kid, but from the sounds of it he's immensely likable. It also makes me want to read his work.

Kindle smackdown
The gang at Green Apple Books in San Francisco have been producing some very funny videos that pit the Kindle against the boring old book. Guess who wins.

Skin book
The Boston Globe's book blog has a post about a call from HTML Giant for those with literary tattoos to submit pics for a proposed new book. They also point us to contrariwise, a site apparently devoted to such tatoos. Where art thou Derek?

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.

Shaun Smith

Shaun Smith is a novelist and journalist living in Toronto. His young adult novel Snakes & Ladders was published in January 2009 by the Dundurn Group.

Go to Shaun Smith ’s Author Page