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George "Book Ninja" Murray talks chaos, poetry and living a public life in tight-knit St. John's.

George Murray, author of Whiteout (ECW Press)

Whiteout is George Murray's sixth collection of poetry (ECW Press.) On the heels of Glimpse, the successful and playful book of aphorisms, Whiteout is decidedly more pensive, the result of change and chaos in Murray's own life.

We'd planned to meet in Trinity Bellwoods Park for a coffee and chat, but were forced indoors by the rain. The door that greeted us was Type Books where we holed up in the basement and talked, fittingly, about how the choice to let chaos exist often leads to the form out of which one makes sense of disorientation.

During the podcast, you'll hear the rumblings above us. Those would be customers coming in and out of the store, a most happy intrusion!

Other intrusions include: Did you know George Murray was once an actor? He talks about this, how he eventually came to be a writer and how he performed for years as "Book Ninja". Did you also know that George Murray is an amateur psychologist? I ask him to interpret me as his reader based on my favourite poem, and, boy, did he nail me!



From the podcast:

The World Goes Out Like an Old Television

It’s nothing so sudden as power loss—
you’ve turned this set off each night for years,
the picture always returns in the morning.

No, it’s something subtler, more natural,
a darkening under the skin …

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Sneak Peek: Brian Francis Reads from Natural Order (Doubleday Canada)

Brian Francis (Photo credit: Paula Wilson)

June 9, 2010, four intrepid writers took to the stage at The Gladstone Hotel to participate in Literary Death Match, an international touring event created by Todd Zuniga. It's good fun and not nearly as cutthroat as it sounds, just four writers reading from new or published works, then judged onstage by a panel of peers, the winner decided by a random task such as a cupcake toss or dance-off. (And, somehow, it's one of the more literary gatherings you'll hope to attend.) I had the pleasure of judging last winter's Toronto event and produced and co-hosted June's. (Look for us again this November with a special Giller des Refuses edition!)

That night, a fresh-faced, pleasantly-groomed fellow approached me to ask if it was going to fly with the audience if he read a sad passage from his upcoming novel. It was Brian Francis and this is what you need to know. The same guy who will make you cry this fall when Natural Order publishes with Doubleday Canada is the same guy who wrote the hilarious 2009 Canada Reads contender, Fruit about a boy with talking nipples and the same guy who maintains one of the most earnest blogs I've encountered in a good, long time, Caker Cooking—"from casseroles to canned corn, this is the best of the worst of mangiacake cuisine."

But, reme …

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Pop Culture, the Literary Gateway: Guest Post by Crissy Calhoun

Crissy Calhoun is the author of Love You to Death: The Unofficial Companion to the Vampire Diaries series (season 2's guide comes out in September) as well as books on Gossip Girl and one in the works on Pretty Little Liars with the genius Jen Knoch. By day, under the moniker Crissy Boylan, she works at as managing editor at ECW Press, and she generally confuses people by having two last names.

I found myself at San Diego Comic-Con last week, officially there for ECW Press to have a look around and see if we would fit in as an exhibitor. Unofficially, however, I was there to gawk at costumes, attend a few panels, and generally try not to be overwhelmed by the sheer number of attendees (125,000) or the absurdly handsome faces usually seen exclusively on my TV set. Though ECW has a strong history of publishing Canadian writing (and work on Canadian writing, which is how the company got its start), we also have a thriving pop culture list with a ton of titles on TV shows. I happily work on that list in my capacity as managing editor, and I moonlight as an author of companion guides, most recently on the second season of The Vampire Diaries.

If you’re unfamiliar with the genesis of The Vampire Diaries— which airs on MuchMusic here in Canada — it was born of Allo …

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In Conversation With: Tony Burgess


A few weeks ago, I was sitting on a patio when a gentleman, back lit by an early-summer sun, approached my table to boast that he recognized me from the back of my head. I shaded my eyes, Tony Burgess coming into view. "I recognize you from the front of your head," I (may have) replied, and he settled in with us for the duration of our stay. I quite liked his company. My only other dealings with Tony have come in late hours in the form of Facebook messages that read like non sequiturs. He's a prolific creator across genre and form, a master at drawing discomfort from the reader and one of the more truly interesting characters you'll have the pleasure to meet.

For my first interview as Host of Canadian Bookshelf, I hope you'll enjoy our get-to-know-you banter. I guess it's true that books really are the social object around which readers converse.

Julie Wilson: A friend recently told me of a dating site in which members are asked, alongside other questions, how they feel about horror films. Seems this is a huge signifier in terms of compatibility between prospective mates. Come to think of it, the first time I saw you from afar you were covered in fake blood at the opening party for The Scream in High Park. What's your relationship to violence and gore? Are you les …

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