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! 

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.

Monarch ButterflyWhat 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?

Ocean_at_the_End_of the laneHoly 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.Magic Tree House #1: Dinosaurs Before Dark

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?

WhatsBredInTheBoneMiddlemarch, 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. King LearyThe 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.