books on the radio


Peter Darbyshire: The Warhol Gang Doesn’t Exist

Peter Darbyshire's New Book is Called the Warhol Gang.

Click here to listen to Peter Darbyshire discuss the Warhol Gang.

There’s a scene in the movie Office Space where one of the characters – played by Ron Livingston – has finally had enough of his soulless boss and the mindlessness of his workday cubicle existence.

Stolen power drill in hand, he rampages through the office, tearing down cubicle walls and gutting a fresh fish at his desk (to a Geto Boys soundtrack).  It’s a scene of liberation for the character, a scene where he finally asserts himself and starts to control his own destiny.

This scene is not replicated in Peter Darbyshire’s new novel, The Warhol Gang.

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From Harper Collins

The Warhol Gang begins and ends with what seems like death.

The book’s protagonist is given the name Trotsky on page 4 by a man named ‘Nickel’, his new boss.  Trotsky has just been hired at Adsenses, “a neuromarketing company that scans his brain to test new products”.

Trotsky spends his days at work cocooned in a special ‘pod’ where he experiences heightened sensory episodes and imaginary scenarios designed by neuromarketers to test prospective products.

In the pod he may see himself in scented rooms, in his own expensive apartment with beautiful women, wearing designer clothes, with a sense of family, fulfillment and certainty.

Nothing could be further from the reality of Trotsky’s existence.

These holograms reflect a deep loneliness in the character and an abundant sense of absence surrounds him.

He searches for some kind of genuine experience and in the course of doing so meets a woman who dreams of stardom but who makes her living faking accidents for insurance money.

And from there the story continues one surreal inversion of desire after another until the characters’ reality becomes an embodiment of a rebel mythology.

Warhol, Trotsky, Che, Holiday, Thatcher – the names evoke a sense of recent pop culture – and ‘real’ culture – history. Each name signifying real historical people but when overlaid on the book’s characters the names create a surreal and eerie effect.

Truth is that I’m going to have to go back and read this book again.

So many ideas and tangents are coming back to me as I write this and I know that there’s a lot more in this book than I got the first time thru.

Peter is addressing the absurdity and hopelessness of life when it’s met by a world that devours flesh and blood dreams with marketed illusions of reality.

What happens when your dreams come not from within but are insinuated upon you via incessant external stimulus?

What happens when your desires are the desires that others desire for you to have?

What difference does anything make? Why not go in for the kill?

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Let the Great World Spin: The Colum McCann Interview

Check out my conversation with Colum McCann, plus a reading from LTGWS.

CLICK HERE FOR THE BOTR / COLUM MCCANN INTERVIEW

I had the great pleasure of speaking to Colum McCann this past week.

Unfortunately, we only had a little more than 10 minutes to talk as he was ripping thru a media junket in Toronto on his way to meet with the dudes at the Afterword.

It was still an excellent conversation and I’m grateful to the folks at Harper Collins Canada for making it happen.

I have filled out the half-hour time slot on CJSF 90.1 FM (Simon Fraser University Independent Radio) with some found audio of Colum talking about the book and also reading from the first chapter.

Let me know what you think.



Fame Whores, Cocaine and Smelling Tom Ford: The Shinan Govani Interview

Shinan 02

It wasn’t a famously grim Vancouver day on the cusp of autumn.  It was a little overcast, a little rainy.  The weather couldn’t quite decide what it wanted to be and so settled on a kind of consistently unadorned greyness with a minor chilling, insubstantial breeze.

This was the backdrop to my interview with Shinan Govani at the Elephant and Castle Pub in downtown Vancouver.

Shinan showed up for the interview umbrella in hand, clearly having heeded the advice of the concierge at the Shangri-La Hotel where he was staying.

We ordered a round of gin & tonics and settled in for the interview.

You can listen to the interview by clicking this link.Bold Face Names

Shinan is the National Post’s “resident snoop, town crier and people watcher.”

According to Richard Johnson of the New York Post’s legendary Page 6, “Shinan Govani works with bemused detachment in a bizarro world of fame whores and the truly famous, and he knows the difference. In Boldface Names, he plumbs the depths of the shallow party circuit, and finds humanity beneath the celebrity, and wisdom beyond mere wit.”

Shinan was in town to promote the launch of his new book, Bold Face Names, which, if the back cover copy is to be trusted, carries a narrative that sweeps “…from the beaches of Anguilla to the towers of Dubai, from LA to London to the social mines of Toronto…”

Social mines of Toronto?!!?  Dear god help us all.



The Shinan Govani Interview: Bold Face Names

Govani_ShinanPimentalPhoto

This Thursday afternoon at an undisclosed location in downtown Vancouver I will be interviewing Canada’s finest disher of celebrity gossip turned wisecracking novelist, Shinan Govani.

Shinan is the National Post‘s “resident snoop, town crier and people watcher.”

Bold Face Names

According to Richard Johnson of the New York Post‘s legendary Page 6, “Shinan Govani works with bemused detachment in a bizarro world of fame whores and the truly famous, and he knows the difference. In Boldface Names, he plumbs the depths of the shallow party circuit, and finds humanity beneath the celebrity, and wisdom beyond mere wit.”

Shinan is in town to promote the launch of his new book, Bold Face Names, which, if the back cover copy is to be trusted, carries a narrative that sweeps “…from the beaches of Anguilla to the towers of Dubai, from LA to London to the social mines of Toronto…”

Social mines of Toronto?!!?  Dear god help us all.

I just received my copy of the book and I’m going to burn through it this afternoon.

Stay tuned for hijinx.



Sitting in with the BC Booksellers Association

A month or so ago I was sitting in the office of Boxcar Marketing with Monique Trottier.  We were sitting around and discussing our usual panoply of concerns about the state – if not stasis – of the book publishing industry as well as BookCamp Toronto when she received an email from Rob ‘President for Life’ Wiersma.  He was looking for someone to speak to booksellers about using social media to get the word out and build communities online.  Monique would be on tour at the time so she recommended me.  Rob, clearly out of options, agreed.

When I arrived at the Marriott Hotel downtown and walked into that conference room I felt an immediate tingle of trepidation.  Wait a minute… who are all these people?  I recognize Rob, Ria from Duthie Books, a few others but I had never seen so many booksellers in one room before.  It was crazy.

Luckily I snuck in quietly as they tore the representative from some government retail agency apart over a number of cryptic issues involving credit card transactions.  Then Lee Trentedue of Galiano Island Bookstore spoke very eloquently about cats and building and supporting communities through a Buy Locally program.

Steve Osgoode, Director of Digital Marketing and Business Development for Harper Collins Canada, was up next.  Minor wardrobe malfunction aside he did an excellent job of speaking to new developments in the digital book world – from electronic galleys, to ebook sales to the ongoing improvements to digital catalogs.

I was up next and spoke for about 30 minutes on social media – blogging, Facebook, Twitter, etc… – and managed to do well enough that no one passed out from boredom.

In the afternoon there were several roundtable discussions focusing on issues specific to the BC book trade and every bookseller participated.  The discussions were lively, everyone was engaged and Rob Wiersma deserves a lot of credit for putting it all together.  I look forward to more of it next year.

Over the next few days I will start to post links to various booksellers whom I met over the weekend and provide some thoughts on what and how to bring independent bookselling into the present with eyes to the future.  I was really excited by all the people that I met over the weekend and look forward to getting to know them more.