Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

The Beautiful Interviewers

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Today, I published a NEWSPAPER COLUMN about the trials of the book tour. But it's only half-serious. Literature and circus are Canada's two great cultural exports. We understand, inherently, the importance of literature both to explain what it's like to be a human being and what it's like to be Canadian. Our other cultural industries have been unable to produce figures like Richler, Atwood and Ondaatje.

Media interviews make up the number one reason for a book tour, and that aspect of The Book of Stanley tour has gone swimmingly, so far. Television and commercial radio outlets always want a news hook more resonant than: this dude wrote a book. Since The Book of Stanley is about religion, and therefore a piece of the American culture war, more news outlets have been interested than with my previous novel, The Garneau Block.

I've been playing it up. When they ask about readers who have been insulted by the book's religious themes, or consider it horribly blasphemous, I nod sagely. But is it not crucial, in a democracy, to argue? Freedom of expression isn't all about politeness and comfort. Writers are supposed to challenge the status quo, not just write pretty sentences. But since these interviews are often at noon or early in the morning, and bookended by discussions of green tea and make-up secrets, I probably come off like an overserious boor. Not like myself. I mean, I'm wearing a clown nose right now, just for kicks.

What do do, what to do? Smile more often. Compliment the interviewers, because they are beautiful indeed.

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.

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Todd Babiak

Todd Babiak is the author of the bestselling novel The Garneau Block (McClelland & Stewart, 2006) and the award-winning novel Choke Hold (Turnstone, 2000). His latest novel is The Book of Stanley (McClelland & Stewart, 2007).

Go to Todd Babiak’s Author Page