Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

The WAR Series: Writers as Readers, with Geoff Pevere

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Geoff Pevere

If you want to talk pop culture in Toronto, you want to talk to Geoff Pevere. A veteran film critic with the Toronto Star and the Globe and Mail, he's lectured on film and media and was the co-author of the bestselling Mondo Canuck: A Canadian Pop Culture Odyssey.

He's shifted to music with his latest publication, Gods of the Hammer: The Teenage Head Story (Coach House Books). The book covers the evolution of the titular band, who have been called "beyond punk", and who attracted a maniacally devoted fanbase in Hamilton, Toronto and the surrounding area during late 1970s. The group seemed destined for international fame; in Gods of the Hammer, Geoff takes readers behind the scenes to see just what happened.

Today Geoff joins us to take on the The WAR Series: Writers As Readers questionnaire, which gives writers an opportunity to talk about the books that shaped them, from first loves to new favourites.

Read on to hear from Geoff about a formative early read, the cruellest sub-genre in literature and the kind of book he'd like to give his seventeen-year-old self, and be sure to pick up Gods of the Hammer for the music lover in your life.
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The WAR Series, Writers as Readers

The first book I remember reading on my own:
Can't remember which one arrived in the mail first, but when I was five or so I belonged to a kiddie book-of-the-month club. For some reason, I think the inaugural arrival was Hop on Pop by Dr. Seuss. I read it devotedly (between TV cartoons) for two reasons: because I could and it was proud, and because it belonged to me.

A book that made me cry:
Anything involving pet animals that died, of which there seemed to be a thriving genre when I was about eight or so. The cruellest literary form of all.

The first adult book I read:
I think it was Pierre Boulle's Monkey Planet, the literary inspiration for Planet of the Apes, which seemed to me (at ten) the very reason God created movies. The book wasn't nearly as cool, probably because it didn't have Charlton Heston in it growling “Take your stinking paws off me, you damned dirty ape!”

A book that made me laugh out loud:
It had to be one of the Mad magazine anthologies, and the laughing out loud probably ensured it was confiscated by some doofus teacher.

The book I have re-read many times:
Hop on Pop. Hands down number one repeat read.

A book I feel like I should have read, but haven't:
Can't tell you how many times I've tried to read Lord of the Rings, only to collapse into an opiate-strength slumber before anybody even ankles out the Shire.

The book I would give my seventeen year old self, if I could:
Anything related to practical money management. Come to think of it, anything to disavow me of the delusion I might get rich writing.

A book I feel strongly influenced me as a writer and why:
Less books than music and movie criticism, or anthologies thereof. Both were thriving forms during my formative years, and now mostly expired. These are the people I blame.

The best book I read in the past six months:
John Wayne: The Life and Legend, by Scott Eyman. Remarkably astute study of the life of the twentieth century's most monumental movie star, a man who wouldn't let anybody call him 'John Wayne' because he understood the difference between person and persona.

The book I plan on reading next:
I'm embarking on a book about the mythology of rock & roll, and plan on reading every single volume which bought into or perpetrated that particular generational boondoggle. Payback time.

A possible title for my autobiography:
He Couldn't Help Himself.


Geoff Pevere is one of Canada’s leading pop culture commentators and movie critics. The former host of CBC Radio’s groundbreaking Prime Time program, he is also the co-author of the national bestseller Mondo Canuck: A Canadian Pop Culture Odyssey. Currently a movie columnist with the Globe and Mail, he was a movie critic with the Toronto Star for ten years, a TV host with TVOntario and Rogers Television and a lecturer on film and media. His other books include Toronto on Film and Donald Shebib’s Goin’ Down the Road.

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