Friday, December 13, 2013

Writing Nonfiction: Everything you wanted to know . . . available online!

He's back! The Dr. Jekyll in me is gearing up to teach an online course through University of Toronto. It's called The Art of Fact: An Introduction to Writing Nonfiction. We launch January 20. And the
particulars look like this: "The hallmarks of Creative, Literary or Narrative Nonfiction are truth and personal presence. The genre includes subjective and objective streams, and encompasses memoir, autobiography, biography, history, adventure, travel, and true crime. The writer of nonfiction employs memory, imagination, analysis, and research, and adapts literary techniques from fiction, journalism, and the essay. This craft-oriented course aims to enhance your ability to tell true stories." You can find out more at the link above. Also:

Textbook: The Art of Fact: A Historical Anthology of Literary Journalism, edited by Kevin Kerrane and Ben Yagoda. (Touchstone/Simon & Schuster, ISBN 0-684-84630-6). 
Wherever you are, come on down.

Friday, December 6, 2013

In defence of Celine Dion (thanks for asking)


Re: 50 Canadians Who Changed the World. I very much appreciate the spirited review that turned up in today’s National Post. Vit Wagner makes some good points (see here). He’s right to mention Lester B. Pearson. I’m a great admirer of Pearson, and I was sorely tempted to include him even though he was born three years before 1900, my admittedly self-imposed cut-off date. But the idea was to paint a portrait of cutting-edge Canada, and to celebrate 20th-century Canadians who are shaping the 21st century. I stand by my decision. On the other hand, I fear I was wrong to omit Mordecai Richler, my all-time favorite Canadian novelist. I have apologized for that here. The one extenuating circumstance I neglected to mention is that, as an ex-Montrealer, I was feeling guilty about the preponderance of Montrealers. If you count them, you will see what I mean. As for Northrop Frye and Robert Lepage, they turn up in my epilogue, which presents a starter-list for Another 50 Canadians Who Changed the World.  Neil Young? The Performers category in 50 Canadians, which encompasses actors, musicians, and athletes, is already the largest in the book. Next time, sure. Oh, but I do stand by the inclusion of Celine Dion, quite apart from album-sales numbers. After quoting  music critic Carl Wilson, who wrote an entire book about his distaste for Dion, and inviting her detractors to please go here, I added: “In my view, Celine Dion changed the world not only by demonstrating the range of the human voice in the context of pop music, but above all by introducing the spirit of French Canada to those who have never known it.” For the rest, I would refer you to the book.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Legendary Different Drummer plays host to 50 Canadians

This morning took us out to Burlington to talk about 50 Canadians in the Different Drummer Book & Author Series. Would you believe that this series has been running since 1975? It may well be the oldest bookstore-based reading-talking-and-seriously-buying series in Canada. The only contender I can think of
is the Books-and-Breakfast series operated by Paragraphe Books in Montreal. This morning, my fellow authors were David Macfarlane and Rachel Joyce, and a fine trio we made. The tables were piled high with our books. We must have addressed an audience of nigh unto 300. What happens is that people subscribe to the literary series in advance, the way they might to a theatre
 season. Today's event was the last in the autumn run, which included three mornings and  nine authors. Afterwards, Cogeco television interviewed each of the authors. Gotta love that community involvement. A Different Drummer is legendary among Canadian independents, and this morning, we could see why.