Bookmas! with Missy Marston

Book­mas: When every present bet­ter be rec­tan­gu­lar in shape. And the heav­ier the bet­ter!

Today’s not-so-secret Book­San­ta: Mis­sy Marston!

Mis­sy Marston’s writ­ing has appeared in var­i­ous pub­li­ca­tions, includ­ing Grain and Arc Poet­ry Mag­a­zine. She was the win­ner of the Lil­lian I. Found Award for her poem, “Jesus Christ came from my home town.” Her debut nov­el The Love Mon­ster won the 2013 Ottawa Book Award for Fic­tion. She lives in Ottawa, Ontario.

What 2014-pub­lished fic­tion would you rec­om­mend?

can’t and won’t by Lydia Davis. I love every­thing about this book. I love the way it looks (a beau­ti­ful styl­ish small hard­cov­er, white with green and black print) and I love the way it reads. Lydia Davis, I learned quite recent­ly, writes these wry lit­tle micro-sto­ries. They range from one sen­tence in length to six or sev­en pages. There is a poet­ic beau­ty and a fero­cious restrained voice in every sin­gle one. Some you will like for the title alone. One favourite of mine is, “I’m Pret­ty Com­fort­able, But I Could Be a Lit­tle More Com­fort­able.

What 2014-pub­lished non-fic­tion would you rec­om­mend?

This Great Escape: The Case of Michael Pary­la by Andrew Stein­metz. To be fair this book was pub­lished in 2013, but I haven’t read any 2014 non-fic­tion titles yet. This book is the biog­ra­phy of a dis­tant rel­a­tive of the author who appeared for 57 sec­onds in the WWII movie The Great Escape. Per­fect for peo­ple inter­est­ed in the war, in movies, in Steve McQueen and — because it can’t help but turn into a mem­oir of sorts — the con­nec­tions with­in fam­i­lies. Beau­ti­ful­ly writ­ten and inno­v­a­tive in struc­ture.

What one book do you believe needs more love?

Pon­ty­pool Changes Every­thing by Tony Burgess. An orig­i­nal work of great beau­ty. I don’t know why it didn’t win every prize going. See me going on about it here.

What book that you’ve read in 2014 (not nec­es­sar­i­ly a 2014 book) would you rec­om­mend?

Glass, Irony & God by Anne Car­son. The first poem, The Glass Essay, is a stun­ner. Best explo­ration of a furi­ous, mature, intel­li­gent woman shat­tered by stu­pid romance I have ever read. Gut-wrench­ing.

What ongo­ing series of books would you rec­om­mend?

This year I read The Patrick Mel­rose Nov­els by Edward St. Aubyn. There are five and I tore through them. Dark fic­tion­al­ized auto­bi­og­ra­phy (about child­hood sex­u­al abuse and the after­math). I wasn’t sure at first what I thought of them, but there is a pre­ci­sion and econ­o­my in the lay­ing out of the sto­ry that is impres­sive. And it seemed to me an impor­tant sto­ry to tell. Not sure it is a good Christ­mas present.

What author would you rec­om­mend?

Saul Bel­low. Because he is rel­a­tive­ly new to me and when I read Her­zog the thought that went through my mind was this: Oh, I see. There is anoth­er lev­el of writ­ing I was not aware of. Beau­ti­ful dia­monds on every page. Lit­er­al­ly dozens and dozens of sin­gle sen­tences that are as love­ly as the best poet­ry I have ever read.

What’s the one book you’ve read in your life­time that you think every­one should read?

The Satan­ic Vers­es by Salman Rushdie. If you haven’t read it, just read it. It is bril­liant. Best nov­el I have ever read. And it is prob­a­bly not what you think it is. It wasn’t what I thought it was.

Also: Break­fast of Cham­pi­ons by Kurt Von­negut. Full of good lessons for humans and many sur­pris­es of form.

Let’s go spe­cif­ic: what books would you rec­om­mend for:

  • The sci­ence-fic­tion fan: My book, The Love Mon­ster! There is very lit­tle sci­ence in it, but there are green aliens from out­er space. And I think it is pret­ty fun­ny.
  • The hor­ror fan: Zom­bie by Joyce Car­ol Oates. So good. So creepy. Will haunt you for­ev­er. Raisin eyes. *shud­der*
  • The fan­ta­sy fan: Strange Pil­grims by Gabriel Gar­cia Márquez. Is it fan­ta­sy? I don’t know. Stu­pid gen­res. There is a sto­ry fea­tur­ing an aging pros­ti­tute that teach­es her dog how to go to her grave and cry real tears. It feels like fan­ta­sy. And it is very, very good.
  • The strict real­ism fan: Expe­ri­ence by Mar­tin Amis. Mem­oir by the fun­ni­est man alive.
  • The thriller/mystery fan: Being Dead by Jim Crace. Again, I may have the genre wrong, but this is a great book with a mys­tery in it. Also very creepy.
  • The non-fic­tion fan: Louis Riel: A Com­ic-Strip Biog­ra­phy by Chester Brown. His­to­ry made mag­i­cal.
  • The Cana­di­an fan: See above.
  • The roman­tic: The His­to­ry of the Siege of Lis­bon by José Sara­m­a­go. Sad proof-read­er takes risks, wins the love of a beau­ti­ful lady.

If, god for­bid, peo­ple couldn’t find your book, who else would you sug­gest they seek out for a sim­i­lar lit­er­ary fix?

You can find my book. I believe in you.

OK, I will give this a try. Most of the writ­ers I read and love do not sound like me. First of all, they are bet­ter writ­ers than me. Sec­ond, there is some­thing gen­er­a­tional at work. I think that most peo­ple tend to read writ­ers who are old­er than them, which is true of me. When I have rec­og­nized some­thing sim­i­lar in writ­ing, it tends to be by writ­ers who are more or less my con­tem­po­raries, those who have grown up lis­ten­ing to the same music and hear­ing the same news. Jen­nifer Egan comes to mind. Rick Moody in his ear­li­er work*. Though, I would nev­er pre­sume to put myself in the same field as either of them. Christ.

*Rick Moody has always been an incred­i­ble tal­ent, but with The Divin­ers he estab­lished him­self as a tow­er­ing genius if you ask me. Those open­ing 13 pages are a lit­er­ary won­der. Worth it to buy the book just for that. Any­body who gets that book for Christ­mas is a lucky per­son.

And final­ly, what would you rec­om­mend for the hol­i­days in a non-lit­er­ary con­text?

For peo­ple who cel­e­brate Christ­mas, it tends to be the hol­i­day that is not a hol­i­day. If you can make it hap­pen, plan a few pyja­ma days with peo­ple you love. Movies, take-out food, no vis­i­tors. Just relax for heaven’s sake.

Bookmas! with A.M. Dellamonica

Book­mas: when we cel­e­brate the birth of Ray Brad­bury. Was he born in a manger? Per­haps. Wikipedia is way vague on that.

Today’s not-so-secret Book­San­ta: A.M. Del­la­m­on­i­ca!

A.M. Del­la­m­on­i­ca is a Cana­di­an author who has pub­lished over thir­ty short sto­ries in the field since the 1980s. Del­la­m­on­i­ca writes in a num­ber of sub-gen­res includ­ing sci­ence fic­tion, fan­ta­sy, and alter­nate his­to­ry. Her sto­ries were select­ed for “Year’s Best” sci­ence fic­tion antholo­gies in 2002 and 2007. Del­la­m­on­i­ca teach­es cre­ative writ­ing online at the UCLA Exten­sion Writer’s Pro­gram. Her nov­els include Indi­go Springs, Blue Mag­ic, and the recent (and pret­ty damn great) Child of a Hid­den Sea.

What 2014-pub­lished fic­tion would you rec­om­mend?

The new books I read this year that I enjoyed the most were: Christo­pher Buehlman’s The Less­er Dead, Peter Watts’s Echoprax­ia, Caitlin Sweet’s The Door in the Moun­tain, and Jay Lake’s Last Plane to Heav­en, his final col­lec­tion.

What 2014-pub­lished non-fic­tion would you rec­om­mend?

My non-fic­tion read­ing doesn’t always tend to be cur­rent, but my absolute favorite, every sin­gle year, is The Best Amer­i­can Sci­ence and Nature Writ­ing.

What book that you’ve read in 2014 (not nec­es­sar­i­ly a 2014 book) would you rec­om­mend?

Just one book that I read this year? Whoo, that’s a toughie! Right now I am try­ing to get every­one I know to read Tana French’s The Secret Place, so that they and I can talk about her strange take on friend­ship, and whether or not there’s any valid­i­ty to what she seems to be say­ing in her work.

In terms of non-fic­tion, I real­ly enjoyed The Great Influen­za, by John M. Bar­ry. Who doesn’t love a plague for the hol­i­days?

What ongo­ing series of books would you rec­om­mend?

I am also always hap­py when a new Ember­verse nov­el by S.M. Stir­ling comes out, and he’s launch­ing a new tril­o­gy in that uni­verse with The Gold­en Princess.

What author would you rec­om­mend?

Nico­la Grif­fith! Don’t just read Hild, but go back and get The Blue Place, Stay, and Always.

What’s the one book you’ve read in your life­time that you think every­one should read?

This answer changes day to day, but the James Tip­tree biog­ra­phy by Julie Phillips is the best biog­ra­phy I’ve ever read.

Let’s go spe­cif­ic: what one author would you rec­om­mend for:

If, god for­bid, peo­ple couldn’t find any of your books, who else would you sug­gest they seek out for a sim­i­lar lit­er­ary fix?

I often rec­om­mend M.K. Hob­son. Our writ­ing is very dif­fer­ent in a lot of ways, but I think our first books revolved around a lot of the same themes.

What would you rec­om­mend for the hol­i­days in a non-lit­er­ary con­text?

This is a gift idea, of a sort: remem­ber that the hol­i­days come with a lot of oblig­a­tions. My rec­om­men­da­tion would be to lis­ten to that inner voice that says “I don’t wan­na …” and, at least once, hon­or that voice by blow­ing off the event you feel you have to attend.

Or, if that voice is less inner, and it’s a loved one say­ing “I don’t wan­na…”? Maybe you can give them the enor­mous gift of “You don’t have to!”

Bookmas! with Craig Davidson

Book­mas: that time of year when the pen is might­i­er than not only the sword, but also socks, gift cards, and video games. Maybe not a PS4, how­ev­er; that item is tight!

Today’s not-so-secret Book­San­ta: Craig David­son!

CRAIG DAVIDSON has pub­lished four utter­ly bril­liant works of lit­er­ary fic­tion: 2013’s Giller Award-nom­i­nat­ed Cataract CityRust and Bone (made into an Oscar-nom­i­nat­ed fea­ture film), The Fight­er, and Sarah Court. Under his pseu­do­nym Nick Cut­ter, he has also pub­lished the aston­ish­ing hor­ror nov­el The Troop, with The Deep due in ear­ly 2015. David­son is a grad­u­ate of the Iowa Writ­ers’ Work­shop, and his arti­cles and jour­nal­ism have been pub­lished in the Nation­al Post, Esquire, GQ, The Wal­rus, and The Wash­ing­ton Post, among oth­ers.

1. What 2014-pub­lished fic­tion would you rec­om­mend?

Walt, by Rus­sell Wanger­sky. Or Ian Weir’s Will Star­ling.

2. What 2014-pub­lished book do you believe needs more love?

I thought Cloud, by Eric McCor­ma­ck was awful darn good. Jaw­bone Lake by Ray Robin­son was also out­stand­ing.

3. What book that you’ve read in 2014 (not nec­es­sar­i­ly a 2014 book) would you rec­om­mend?

I read the Preach­er com­ic series. Not sure why it took me that long. Hel­lu­va ride.

4. What ongo­ing series of books would you rec­om­mend?

Jo Nesbø’s Har­ry Hole stuff is always super-strong.

5. What author would you rec­om­mend?

Unre­served­ly? Hmm. Maybe … Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl is a book that I rec­om­mend unre­served­ly. I know every­one prob­a­bly does, but I’ve nev­er had a book that I read, told some­one else they had to read, that some­one else loved it and passed it on, and on, and on … that book spread like wild­fire amongst my friends and fam­i­ly and every­one loved it, which is a huge rar­i­ty.

6. What’s the one book you’ve read in your life­time that you think every­one should read?

Where the Red Fern Grows by Wil­son Rawls

7. Let’s go spe­cif­ic: what books would you rec­om­mend for:

8. And final­ly, what would you rec­om­mend for the hol­i­days in a non-lit­er­ary con­text, i.e. not a book rec­om­men­da­tion. Doesn’t have to be a gift idea.

A juicer. Keep your­self in good bod­i­ly health, peo­ple! Juice your greens and avoid colds this win­ter.

Bookmas! with Peter Darbyshire

Book­mas: when thoughts of good cheer are always accom­pa­nied with read­ings of good prose.

Today’s Not-so-secret Book­San­ta: Peter Dar­byshire

By day, Peter Dar­byshire is an edi­tor for Van­cou­ver news­pa­per The Province. By night, when he’s not busy fighting/causing crime, Peter is the acclaimed author of the nov­els The Warhol Gang and Please, win­ner of Canada’s ReLit Award for Best Alter­na­tive Nov­el and the Ontario Arts Council’s K.M. Hunter Award for Best New Book. Peter has also penned numer­ous short sto­ries, and also pub­lish­es the Cross series of super­nat­ur­al thrillers under the pen name Peter Roman, a series of which I am anx­ious­ly await­ing the sec­ond book.

What 2014-pub­lished fic­tion would you rec­om­mend?

The book that real­ly hit me this year was Jonathan Bennett’s The Colo­nial Hotel. I should point out that Jonathan is a friend of mine, but I hope peo­ple won’t hold that against him.

When Jonathan told me about the idea for his book over drinks some time ago, I thought he had lost his mind. We were drink­ing some love­ly Aus­tralian shi­raz and he start­ed talk­ing about adapt­ing a long poem he’d writ­ten of the Paris and Helen myth into a poet­ic nov­el. I made agree­able nois­es, as it was his wine, and kept my thoughts to myself. That’s Can­Lit for you.

I bought the book when it came out, as friends do. I even read it, as friends don’t always do. And I was absolute­ly stunned by it. It’s a slim, ele­gant vol­ume about a pair of aid workers/lovers who are torn apart when a civ­il war hits their part of the world. The prose is spare but poet­ic and absolute­ly loaded. It real­ly made me ques­tion my own assump­tions and even bias­es as a read­er — how many books do that? I can’t rec­om­mend this one enough. Good on ya, Jonathan.

What 2014-pub­lished non-fic­tion would you rec­om­mend?

I don’t read a lot of non-fic­tion because of my day job. I’m an edi­tor at The Province news­pa­per, and when I come home I just want to escape the luna­cy of real life by slip­ping into some fan­ta­sy and make-believe. That said, I am cur­rent­ly read­ing a bit about Vancouver’s past. I’m part­way through Eve Lazarus’s Sen­sa­tion­al Van­cou­ver, which offers glimpses into Vancouver’s crazy his­to­ry of opi­um dens, bank-rob­ber cops, haunt­ed hous­es, broth­els, boot­leg­gers — you know, all the stuff that made Van­cou­ver the great, world-class city it is today.

I’d also sug­gest a sim­i­lar book Anvil pub­lished in 2013: This Day in Van­cou­ver, by Jesse Don­ald­son. Both books are full of those sto­ries that make you think, “This can’t be true.” But if there’s one thing I’ve learned from news­pa­pers, it’s that real life is always stranger than fic­tion.

What 2014-pub­lished book to do feel needs more love?

Right now I’m read­ing Paul Vermeersch’s new poet­ry col­lec­tion Don’t Let It End Like This Tell Them I Said Some­thing. I can’t get through it because I keep re-read­ing sec­tions. That’s par­tial­ly because I don’t under­stand poet­ry and par­tial­ly because they’re just so damned good. I read the first sec­tion of the book one night a lit­tle while ago, then imme­di­ate­ly went back and reread it again. Then I read it again the next day. It’s the sort of writ­ing that sinks down into the lit­tle nooks and cran­nies in your brain and bub­bles away there. Incred­i­ble stuff.

What book that you’ve read in 2014 (not nec­es­sar­i­ly a 2014 book) would you rec­om­mend?

Max Barry’s Lex­i­con. It’s about a secret agency of “poets” – spe­cial­ly trained peo­ple who learn to use words as weapons. Like most poets, they inevitably go to war with each oth­er. The sto­ry revolves around a cat­a­clysmic event in a small Aus­tralian town that invokes the spir­it of the Tow­er of Babel. I think it’s the first gen­uine lit­er­ary thriller I’ve read.

What ongo­ing series of books would you rec­om­mend?

The Johannes Cabal books by Jonathan L. Howard. They fol­low the mis­ad­ven­tures of the cranky but clever necro­mancer Johannes Cabal, who thinks noth­ing of mak­ing deals with the dev­il, ven­tur­ing into the Dream­lands or even hang­ing about with quirky vam­pires. They’re delight­ful­ly fun­ny books that invoke the dread and eeri­ness of Love­craft with­out the latter’s excess­es. I wish I’d thought of Johannes Cabal first!

What author would you rec­om­mend?

I am eager­ly await­ing the new Corey Redekop book. [ED.: You and me both, broth­er] While I wait, I’m read­ing Echoprax­ia by Peter Watts, the mad genius of sci-fi. I couldn’t pos­si­bly describe Watts’ books. All I can real­ly say is he saved sci­ence fic­tion for me.

What’s the one book you think every­one should read?

Ita­lo Calvino’s Invis­i­ble Cities. If you can’t enjoy this book, then I don’t know… It must be like see­ing the world in black and white and nev­er know­ing any­thing about colours.

Let’s go genre spe­cif­ic: what books would you rec­om­mend for

  1. The sci­ence-fic­tion fan: I already men­tioned Peter Watts’ Echoprax­ia, so I may as well pick Blind­sight by Watts as well. A first con­tact sto­ry with tru­ly alien aliens, an explo­ration of con­scious­ness, a bio­log­i­cal argu­ment for the pos­si­bil­i­ty of vam­pires, a pro­jec­tion of our obses­sion with vir­tu­al worlds – and so much more? Yes, please.
  2. The hor­ror fan: I’m look­ing for­ward to read­ing David Nickle’s new book, Knife Fight and Oth­er Strug­gles. David is a fel­low ChiZine author and a fel­low jour­nal­ist, so maybe there’s some con­flict of inter­est in me choos­ing this book. I don’t care. He’s a smart and scary writer with the right edge of insan­i­ty for me. I mean, this one fea­tures a may­or who gets into knife fights with oppo­nents. I’m in!
  3. The fan­ta­sy fan: I just fin­ished Sebastien de Castell’s Traitor’s Blade and loved it. It’s a nice alter­na­tive to the grim­dark sen­si­bil­i­ties dom­i­nat­ing the genre right now. It’s the sto­ry of a fall­en Great­coat — kind of a wan­der­ing judge — who’s been framed for a mur­der along with some friends. It’s great fun with some of the best action scenes I’ve ever read. If you like the sen­si­bil­i­ty of The Three Mus­ke­teers or even Fire­fly, then you’ll love Traitor’s Blade.
  4. The strict real­ism fan: Bet­ter Liv­ing Through Plas­tic Explo­sives by Zsuzsi Gart­ner. I’m a huge fan of Gartner’s writ­ing. I’d call it mag­ic real­ism, only the mag­ic is in the prose not the world. It’s real­ly kind of inde­scrib­able. Peo­ple who have read her under­stand. Peo­ple who haven’t read her are sleep­read­ing through life.
  5. The thriller/mystery fan: Come Bar­bar­ians by Todd Babi­ak. I kind of gave up on mys­ter­ies a while back because I found most of the acclaimed books in the genre painful­ly dull to read. If you can’t both­er to write a good line, why should I both­er try­ing to fig­ure our your mys­tery? Babi­ak made me care about the genre again. This one’s a great mix of mys­tery and inter­na­tion­al thriller, with a lit­er­ary sen­si­bil­i­ty. Babi­ak shows you how it should be done. I can’t wait for the sequel.
  6. The non-fic­tion fan: My Bright Abyss by Chris­t­ian Wiman. I think a good non-fic­tion book either tells you about some­thing you don’t know or makes you think about some­thing you do know in a dif­fer­ent way. I’ve had kind of a hate on for reli­gion most of my life for the usu­al rea­sons and the usu­al per­son­al asso­ci­a­tions. But Wiman’s book about redis­cov­er­ing his lost spir­i­tu­al­i­ty made me pause and look at people’s faith in a dif­fer­ent light. It’s Wiman grap­pling with the idea of faith at all in the mod­ern world — with­out reject­ing sci­ence or mod­ern thought — in the wake of a ter­mi­nal can­cer diag­no­sis. It’s chal­leng­ing, thought­ful and just plain beau­ti­ful — Wiman is a poet and the edi­tor of Poet­ry mag­a­zine. He looks at faith and spir­i­tu­al­i­ty through the lens of a poet, which is real­ly the ide­al way to do it. I was sur­prised at how much this book moved me. Poets. They’re always mess­ing with you.
  7. The British/German/Canadian blood­line fan: World War Z by Max Brooks. Because zom­bies are an inter­na­tion­al con­cern.
  8. The kidlit fan: For­tu­nate­ly, the Milk by Neil Gaiman. I’m read­ing a lot of kids’ books these days, on account of hav­ing a four-year-old boy who loves sto­ries. I took him to the local book and pil­low store recent­ly to buy some chap­ter books and picked this up on a whim. My boy wasn’t inter­est­ed, as it wasn’t Scoo­by-Doo or scary. But he end­ed up lov­ing it — as did I. It’s a great, fun sto­ry about a father who goes out to buy milk for his children’s break­fast and comes back with a sto­ry of being abduct­ed by aliens, time trav­el, pirates, wum­pires, a dinosaur pro­fes­sor and more. Real­ly fun and clever stuff. I hate Neil Gaiman for mak­ing it look so easy.

If, god for­bid, peo­ple couldn’t find any of your books, who else would you sug­gest they seek out for a sim­i­lar lit­er­ary fix?

What sort of future apoc­a­lypse are you imag­in­ing here? Is this a Handmaid’s Tale, where my books have been banned by the state? Or is this more of a Road sce­nario, where can­ni­bals use my books as kin­dling for their cook­ing fires? I sup­pose it doesn’t mat­ter. The future is always an apoc­a­lypse for some­one.

For my Peter Dar­byshire books, I’d sug­gest read­ing Shelf Mon­key by Corey Redekop. I think it mines the same vein of mad­ness run­ning under the sur­face of soci­ety. [ED.: I did not ask/beg/pay Peter for this rec­om­men­da­tion. How­ev­er, I did sleep with his image beneath my pil­low, hop­ing my dreams would reach his sub­con­cious. Dreamwish­es work!]

I’d also sug­gest Craig David­son. I’m not sure we have much in com­mon in terms of actu­al sto­ry, but I think we both embrace the same spir­it of craft and lit­er­ary exper­i­men­ta­tion. He writes lines so sharp they draw blood, and he can struc­ture a sto­ry so well he must have an archi­tec­ture degree. Real­ly, I’m just try­ing to asso­ciate myself with him in the hope that some con­fused read­er will buy my books along with his.

For my Peter Roman alter ego, I’d say Roger Zelazny because my Cross nov­els (The Mona Lisa Sac­ri­fice and the forth­com­ing The Dead Ham­lets) are real­ly my attempt to write the books that inspired me as a kid. Zelazny was the writer I read and re-read and then re-re-read. I still return to his works every few years. I’ve always been a nos­tal­gic soul.

If you want a writer who’s still alive, I’d say Steven Brust, whose Jhereg books about a charm­ing assas­sin in a fan­ta­sy land also had a major influ­ence on me. I’m a suck­er for charm­ing rogues. Which may explain why I’m gen­er­al­ly broke.

And final­ly, what would you rec­om­mend for the hol­i­days in a non-lit­er­ary con­text.

Hey, you can’t go wrong with a good game. I love all the usu­al games in fash­ion right now — Tick­et to Ride, Last Night on Earth, Gloom, Zom­bies!!! But I also love play­ing co-oper­a­tive games, as they’re less hard on my mar­riage. I was intro­duced to For­bid­den Island recent­ly, and I real­ly enjoyed it. I real­ly want to get the sequel, For­bid­den Desert. (I ini­tial­ly typed that out as For­bid­den Dessert….) Pan­dem­ic is also on my gift list.

If your loved one isn’t into games, then I don’t know… a good scotch to dull the pain?

Bookmas! with Scott Fotheringham

Book­mas: a time when a gift card and a shrug just won’t cut it. Try hard­er!

Today’s Not-so-secret Book­mas Book­San­ta:

 Scott Fother­ing­ham! 

Scott Fother­ing­ham used his expe­ri­ence as a research sci­en­tist in New York to write his high­ly praised (and deserved­ly so) debut nov­el The Rest is Silence (Goose Lane Edi­tions, 2012). Scott holds a PhD from Cor­nell Uni­ver­si­ty in mol­e­c­u­lar genet­ics, and a BSc from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Guelph. The Rest is Silence—a bril­liant nov­el of eco­log­i­cal dev­as­ta­tion, sci­en­tif­ic advance­ment, and the search for mean­ing in a world on the brink of disaster—was short­list­ed for the First Nov­el Award, the Ottawa Book Award, and the Dart­mouth Book Award for Fic­tion. He now lives and writes near Ottawa, after a sojourn near Hal­i­fax.

What 2014-pub­lished fic­tion would you rec­om­mend?

OK, here’s the deal. I’m in the midst of get­ting my fledg­ling copy­writ­ing career up and fly­ing, so these days I tend to read trade books about mar­ket­ing, PR, copy­writ­ing, and entre­pre­neur­ship. Those, and children’s books. I read a lot of children’s books. As in ten or more each week. I’m afraid to say I don’t think I’ve read a 2014-pub­lished fic­tion book this year. But I still have two months to do so! I’ll read what oth­ers say and read one of those, OK?

What 2014-pub­lished non-fic­tion would you rec­om­mend?

The tweets of @BillMckibben.

What one 2014-pub­lished book ani­mal do you believe needs more love?

Monarch but­ter­flies. If we can save them by dras­ti­cal­ly reduc­ing pes­ti­cide use, mono­cul­ture farm­ing, and defor­esta­tion we will deserve to high-five each oth­er well into the night while we dance around a bon­fire.

What book that you’ve read in 2014 (not nec­es­sar­i­ly a 2014 book) would you rec­om­mend?

Holy yik­er­doo­dles, I can’t believe I’ve lived for 53 win­ters with­out hav­ing read Neil Gaiman. How the f*^k did that hap­pen? The Ocean At The End of The Lane is a won­der­ful evo­ca­tion of what it is to be a boy. I just lucked across Frag­ile Things, a col­lec­tion of short sto­ries and poet­ry that I am lov­ing.

What ongo­ing series of books would you rec­om­mend?

My daugh­ter is par­tial to the Mag­ic Tree House series by Mary Pope Osborne. We’re learn­ing about his­to­ry, sib­ling love, and resource­ful­ness. Best thing is there’s over 50 of these books and the library seems to have them all.

What author would you rec­om­mend?

Chris Ware and Daniel Clowes, both of whom write and draw. I learned to read from com­ic books and I still like them.

What’s the one book you think every­one should read?

Did you say three? I dis­tinct­ly heard you say three. Corey, let me get my ear trum­pet so I can be sure. Where is that darn thing when I need it?

Mid­dle­march, though I know it’s not everyone’s cup of Eng­lish tea. Their Eyes Were Watch­ing God, by Zora Neale Hurston. What’s Bred in the Bone, by Robert­son Davies. And my favourite book of all time, All The King’s Men, by Robert Penn War­ren. I would reread that book, again, if only for this line: “Man is con­ceived in sin and born in cor­rup­tion and he pas­seth from the stink of the didie to the stench of the shroud. There is always some­thing.”

Let’s go genre spe­cif­ic: what books would you rec­om­mend for

  1. The sci­ence-fic­tion fan: I don’t read much sci-fi at all, but I did love Ursu­la K. Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Dark­ness. By the way, she wrote a nice trans­la­tion of the Tao te Ching.
  2. The hor­ror fan: Franken­stein, Mary Shel­ley. And since you didn’t ask, I’ll tell you why. It’s a per­fect para­ble for the way we’ve allowed mol­e­c­u­lar biol­o­gy to run amuck. You can read this book and sub­sti­tute GMOs for the mon­ster. Pre­scient.
  3. The fan­ta­sy fan: Life is too fan­tas­ti­cal as it is to read fan­ta­sy. Why make shit up when it’s hap­pen­ing all the time already. Unless you count Neil Gaiman as a fan­ta­sy writer and then I’d say, “Neil Gaiman”.
  4. The strict real­ism fan: Can I skip this ques­tion? It’s almost time to start the next in the Mag­ic Tree House series. In this one, Jack and Annie go to the court of King Arthur, where some shenani­gans have caused sad­ness in the land. Only the sib­lings can save the day.
  5. The non-fic­tion fan: Some­one I love told me I’d real­ly like Dear Sug­ar, by Cheryl Strayed. It’s on my bed­side table just wait­ing to be opened and read as soon as I fin­ish the lat­est instal­ment of the Mag­ic Tree House series. In this one our intre­pid duo vis­it the world’s fair in Paris at the turn of the 19th cen­tu­ry and get to meet Alexan­der Gra­ham Bell, Louis Pas­teur, and Thomas Edi­son. Heady stuff!
  6. The Hock­eyLit fan: King Leary, by Paul Quar­ring­ton. He also wrote about the end of his life in the won­der­ful Cig­ar Box Ban­jo.

If, god for­bid, peo­ple couldn’t find any of your books, who else would you sug­gest they seek out for a sim­i­lar lit­er­ary fix?

Ann-Marie Mac­Don­ald. Does that sound arro­gant? I hope not. It’s meant to sound appre­cia­tive of one of my inspi­ra­tions. Read­ing Fall On Your Knees is a good mem­o­ry and this fin­ish­es near the top of the list for best title of a nov­el.

And final­ly, what would you rec­om­mend for the hol­i­days in a non-lit­er­ary con­text.

Jill Bar­ber, Rose Cousins, and Meaghan Smith’s Christ­mas album, A New Kind Of Light. Puts me in the Christ­mas spir­it as well as any music.