Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

solson's blog


You've had them. They wake you at 3 a.m. and they are always the best idea you ever had.

They solve the plot dead-end you've written yourself into; they promise to end your writer's block once and for all; at the very least they're guaranteed to get you that big, fat advance.

And you have no pen, no paper, no pencil, no BlackBerry, or your BlackBerry is dead.

I have jotted ideas on cigarette packs with burnt matchsticks; on mirrors with lipstick; on bathroom walls with soap. I have written my thoughts in the air with the glowing tip of a burnt branch and carved them into a shining wet beach.


The new story in fashion and design is that everything has to tell a story. That "heritage wear" jacket has to reference your grandpa's lumberjack shirt. (He probably never was a lumberjack, he wore it to drink beer at the cottage.)

That was the idea that menswear designer Joseph Abboud was reflecting when he described his new clothing collection, Black & Brown, as "working class luxury." Because we are all working class now, get it? The line features scrumptious wools, corduroys and cashmere scarves and it was being modelled by young guys in fingerless gloves and newsboy caps. Very Dickensian chic.

Madame Bovary and brain science

Reading MADAME BOVARY in 2009 is very different from reading it in 1970 or so, the first time I met Flaubert. While classics are classics for a reason – they stand the test, you can read them at 16 or 60 – too often they are quarantined in our school syllabus and then put them aside in favour of Ruth Rendell (not that she’s any slouch, her psychological novels under pen name Barbara Vine have the same clotted despair as Madame Bovary).

The Uninvited

“That Michael Winter,” said Si Si Penaloza on Tuesday night. “What a lovely guy. I met him tonight at the Penguin thing. He’s charismatic.”

“What Penguin thing?” I said, immediately annoyed that I hadn’t been invited.

We were drinking cocktails at a swish party for the launch of a new boutique vodka, Grey Goose Poire. The Poire party was at the Art Gallery of Ontario and it was my first look at the Frank Gehry transformation (it’s surprising how many people haven’t seen it yet. I blame the weather).

“Oh, The Hamish Hamilton launch at Nyood,” Si Si said. Si Si is the editorial director of the newly launched and an occasional contributor to Globe Style. She is also an Olympic-class schmoozer. She probably had six more events that night.


Dear Stephen Colbert
I know it's inexcusably tardy to be sending you a Christmas card in March, but, honest, I couldn't find your address. Then, when I heard last week that my Globe and Mail colleague Carl Wilson had got invited onto your show on March 4*, I thought Hey! Someone up there really wants Stephen to have his card.

So here it is. The card depicts a WORLD WAR TWO FRENCH GINGERBREAD FARMHOUSE. Building this bombed-out gingerbread house with my two sons was the best Christmas Day therapy ever (next to watching A COLBERT CHRISTMAS, of course).

I mean, what do you do when you open the IKEA gingerbread kit and realize half the roof is gone? Break out the plastic soldiers, of course!

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