Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Read Ontario, with Matthew Heiti

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Matthew Heiti

Ontario boasts a wealth of fantastic writers and amazing stories, and this October and November the Organization of Book Publishers of Ontario is highlighting a selection of the province's finest writing from great Ontario publishers. There's no better time to “Read Ontario”!

Today we speak with Matthew Heiti. A Genie-nominated screenwriter, Matthew has turned his talents to the novel with The City Still Breathing (Coach House Books). The City Still Breathing opens with a dead, naked body found on a highway outside Sudbury. When the body mysteriously disappears, eleven locals with wildly different problems, secrets and ambitions are drawn into the intrigue.

Today Matthew speaks with Open Book as part of the WAR Series (Writers as Readers) and talks about the books that have shaped his writing life. Matthew tells us about the comic that taught him to read, baking a good metaphor and the hidden greatness of Winnie the Pooh.

Visit a participating Read Ontario independent bookstore to get a copy of The City Still Breathing, or click here for details on how you can enter to win 42 amazing Read Ontario books.

Visit the Open Book: Toronto and Open Book: Ontario websites over the next few weeks to hear from some of Ontario's most creative authors.
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Read Ontario — Writers as Readers, the W.A.R. Series: Matthew Heiti

The first book I remember reading on my own: I taught myself to read with The Wizard of Id comic strips. I’m not sure if that bodes well.

A book that made me cry: Watership Down by Richard Adams. One of the truly great adventures.

The first adult book I read: Musashi by Eji Yoshikawa. This is just such an epic.

A book that made me laugh out loud: The Hawkline Monster by Richard Brautigan. Nobody bakes a metaphor like Mr. Brautigan. All of his books are laugh-out-loud lifesick tragedies.

The book I have re-read many times: Neuromancer by William Gibson. Lyrical, mystical, the most exciting book I’ve ever read.

A book I feel like I should have read, but haven't: It makes me grumpy to think that I will never be able to read everything I should read. I made a deal with myself to start by reading all the books I own. The problem is for every one I read, I buy two more. My attic is a microcosm of the world’s overpopulation problem.

The book I would give my seventeen year old self, if I could: Moby Dick by Herman Melville. The book I quit on three times before finally finishing it. I would say, Hey, maybe it’s okay if you skip over that long chapter on Cetology. But I know my seventeen-year-old self wouldn’t listen. He was so like that. Always wanted to do things the hard way.

A book I feel strongly influenced me as a writer and why: Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne. Nostalgia is my internal compass point, it’s humbling to always know you’re both coming from and headed toward nothing. These books are nostalgic haunts. There is both great joy and great sadness in them — this idea that everything precious is forever lost, but everything lost can be unearthed again. Milne’s writing is a testament to the power of simplicity.

The best book I read in the past six months: The Lion of Boaz-Jachin and Jachin-Boaz by Russell Hoban. (Actually all the best books I’ve read in the past six months have been by Mr. Hoban. Please read him. I can’t think of a more underappreciated writer.)

The book I plan on reading next: I’m working my way through all of John Bellairs books. Next up — The Mummy, the Will and the Crypt. It’s research, I swear.

A possible title for my autobiography: It would extremely depress me if I ever thought I was capable of writing an autobiography. It would depress me even more if anyone else actually wanted to read it. But if in some horrible universe this happened, it might be called Messy, Isn’t it?


Matthew Heiti was born in Sudbury, and holds an MA from the University of New Brunswick. His fiction has appeared in many periodicals and journals, and his plays have been workshopped and produced across the country. A Genie-nominated screenwriter, he is currently at work on a novel about two brothers fighting a dark presence that stalks the wasted sulphur hills of their neighbourhood.

For more information about The City Still Breathing please visit the Coach House website.

Buy this book at your local independent bookstore or online at Chapters/Indigo or Amazon.

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