Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

The Questionless Books Interview: New York Times Critic David Orr

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The Questionless Books Interview: New York Times Critic David Orr

Inspired by the Proust Questionnaire, The Questionless Books Interview gets a host of lit-types (authors, editors, publishers, publicists, designers, booksellerss, readers, bloggers, journalists, etc.) to finish a bunch of statements about the state of literature and the "future of books".

David Orr writes the column "On Poetry" for The New York Times Book Review. His first book, Beautiful & Pointless: A Guide to Modern Poetry, will be published by HarperCollins in April in the US, June in Canada.

David's Book:

Beautiful & Pointless

I am...

David Orr.

I am known to...

Write poetry reviews. Poems too, sometimes.

I do this in...

The New York Times Book Review and Poetry magazine, mostly.

I do this because...

I am regularly rewarded with sacks of gold doubloons.

I do this when I...

Can.

The way I do this is...

I stare intently at the screen, after having spent days reading some poor poet’s life work. Then I remember something I have to do elsewhere in the house/down the street/in a Home Depot/deep in a jungle on the Osa Peninsula. Finally, shortly before the piece is due, I return from wherever I’ve been and write the whole thing in a furious burst.

At its core, a Writer is...

Hopefully not an “it,” first off.

As opposed to an Author, who is...

An unusually annoying writer.

A Writer is responsible for...

Producing writing that is interesting and more or less on time.

As opposed to an Author, who is responsible for...

Mentioning his or her book in a calculatedly casual way at parties.

At its core, Publishing is...

About getting people to pay money to read something.

As opposed to Editing, which is...

About getting writers to calm down and stop being stupid.

A Publisher should always...

Pay writers with actual dollars, not praise or brownies or whatever.

As opposed to an Editor, who should always...

Tell you when you need to calm down and stop being stupid.

A Manuscript that's ready to be read by others is...

A sweet, sweet thing.

As opposed to a Book that's ready to be ready by others, which is...

A source of alternating anxiety and euphoria.

A Manuscript should always...

Have a nice, hefty feel to it, like a box of doughnuts or a gun.

As opposed to a Book, which should always...

Have a cover that doesn’t involve the author’s head, unless the author is staggeringly good looking.

At its core, Bookselling is...

The labor of saints.

As opposed to Book Marketing, which is...

Sorry, I’m a poetry critic – what is this “marketing” of which you speak?

The smallest unit of narrative is...

Next!

To be a Book a thing must be...

Something that seems sufficiently like other things we’ve called books in the past.

The biggest reason to be scared of the future is...

The inevitable revolt of the cows.

The biggest reason to anticipate the future is...

Have I mentioned that my book is coming out in April in the US, June in Canada? You know, Beautiful & Pointless: A Guide to Modern Poetry? Cute orange cover? $16.65 preorder on Amazon.ca?

In the future we will all...

Who knows? But in April (or June!), we’ll all be wondering how to mail gold doubloons to David Orr in grateful recognition of his contribution to world literature.

At his/her core, a Reader is...

To be treasured.

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.

George Murray

George Murray’s six books of poetry include The Rush to Here and The Hunter. His most recent books, Whiteout and Glimpse: Selected Aphorisms, are published by ECW Press. He is the editor of the popular literary website Bookninja.com.

Go to George Murray’s Author Page