Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Checking in and warming up

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Hello all.

I’ll be hanging around here for the next few weeks, like an older sibling you quickly regret inviting to the party (think Frank Jr. in Saturday Night Fever), offering up ham-fisted jokes, conventional wisdom, useless advice, pointless complaints, warmed-over clichés, and generous helpings of self-promotion.

Blogging, in other words.

I should offer some credentials. As my bio above says, I just published my first novel, I’m the review editor at Quill & Quire, and I do a fair amount of freelance writing and reviewing for various magazines and newspapers. I have also worked at a literary agency, served as managing editor for a literary quarterly, as a judge for a provincial book award, and as a member of a granting jury, and have appeared on TV and radio the odd time as a talking head, always on the topic of books.

Most recently, I was a guest panelist on Talking Books with Ian Brown, on CBC Radio One, and I have a short story published in the newest issue of Exile magazine (which will be launched on Tuesday, June 3 at the Dora Keogh pub on the Danforth).

None of which makes me a grizzled CanLit veteran – not by a long-shot. One odd thing about Canadian books is that if you hang around long enough – and I'm still a newbie – you end up amassing a similar CV, almost by default. Despite the often-impressive, occasionally depressing amounts of money that flow through the Canadian book industry, it is still very much like a guerrilla movement: always looking for volunteers. There are an awful lot of daring nighttime raids being led by raw recruits. A lot of amateurs in over their heads (see: my bio, above).

This is all intended to lower (if that’s possible, at this point) any expectations as well as strike the appropriate note of a self-deprecation right at the outset. William James began the monumental series of lectures that would become The Varieties of Religious Experience by saying “It is with no small amount of trepidation that I take my place behind this desk, and face this learned audience.”

I’m not William James, but I go into pretty much every situation with no small amount of trepidation, so the analogy almost fits. By the end of my four weeks here, I won’t have come up with anything as intellectually important as The Varieties of Religious Experience, but I may end up with something far, far more modest – The Varieties of CanLit Experience, maybe. (And any publisher who would pay money for a book with that for a title likely folded thirty years ago, thank god.)

In the meantime, feel free to send questions, requests, complaints, etc.

Next up (in a day or so): thoughts on blogs, of the mostly literary kind. Excitement!

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.

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Nathan Whitlock

Nathan Whitlock is the review editor of Quill & Quire magazine. His writing and reviews have appeared in The Toronto Star, The Globe and Mail, Maisonneuve, Toro, Geist, Saturday Night and elsewhere. His novel, A Week of This: a novel in seven days, was published this spring by ECW Press.

Go to Nathan Whitlock’s Author Page