Archive for the ‘Paul Quarrington’ Category

Another great Grimsby event…

Friday, March 4th, 2011

Back in April 2009, I made my first visit to the very popular Grimsby Author Series in the company of one of my literary heroes, Paul Quarrington. I believe it was Paul’s last public reading before he was diagnosed with lung cancer. But neither of us knew anything about that shocking news at the time and it was an amazing evening. Somewhere north of 200 people packed the room at the Casablanca Winery Inn in Grimsby. You can read about my impressions of that special night for me in a post I wrote nearly two years ago.

I was honoured to be invited back to read from The High Road last Monday evening. I was joined on the stage by Sue Kenney who read from her wonderful memoir of her pilgrimage along the Camino de Santiago in Spain. Sue read first and had the 230-strong crowd in the palm of her hand. Then it was my turn. The organizer of the event, Ken Boichuk, delivered one of the nicest introductions I’ve ever been given. He was very generous and so articulate. I kind of thought I should just read for a few mintues and then let Ken return to the podium to carry on his captivating talk!

Anway, it was a wonderful night with a very warm and welcoming crowd. Sue and I signed a whack of books for audience members afterwards and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. I’d go back to Grimsby in an instant. (Perhaps for novel number three!) It’s a great reading series with sellout crowds of serious book lovers. My thanks to Ken, Bud, Eva, the two Nicks, Lita, and all the others who work so hard to make the Grimsby Author Series such a well-known and respected gig for Canadian writers.

Sue Kenney, Ken Boichuk, et moi…

My Canada Reads Gift Guide

Friday, December 24th, 2010

CBC asked all of the Canada Reads finalists to answer a kind of holiday gift guide questionnaire. Today was my turn. (Excuse the crazed photo. It’s not CBC’s fault. It’s tough to get a good shot of me. Tell me I don’t always look like this…)

My CBC Book Club Podcast episode

Friday, October 1st, 2010

A couple of weeks ago, I got a call from one of the literary producers at CBC Radio about coming in to record a segment of their great CBC Book Club Podcast (longtime listener, first time… guest!). So in I went to the CBC Broadcast Centre, slapped on the headphones, and answered a series of questions I’d been sent earlier in the week. It was kind of fun. Anyway, it was produced and posted today. Check it out if you like…

Paul Quarrington 1953-2010

Thursday, January 21st, 2010

Like so many other Canlit lovers, I’m torn up today. There will no new Paul Quarrington novel to anticipate. Not any longer. Every few years there would be another, and we would line up to buy it. Then we would line up to hear him read sections to us (so much better than reading it ourselves). Then we would lament that we’d finished reading it. Then, the interminable wait until his next offering arrived. The Quarrington cycle. I know it well.

Long before I dared dream I might one day be a writer, I became an avid Quarrington fan. King Leary was my introduction. I was hooked. I quickly powered through the Quarrington canon and started collecting first editions (I do this for favourite authors). I loved his humour, melancholy introspection, and note-perfect dialogue. I can’t say I wouldn’t have written The Best Laid Plans without reading Paul Quarrington. But I can say with certainty, that his writing inspired me and taught me that it was possible to write a comic novel with a message and with a heart.

Sharing a car with Paul, and then the stage for a reading in Grimsby last spring, is a highlight in my fledgling writerly life. That, and appearing on the list of Leacock winners with him.

I will miss him. You can bet that I’ll have my nose in a Quarrington novel before the night is out, in tribute.

Here’s what I’ve written in the past about Paul:

The National Post’s online book site, The Afterword, collected tributes from the Canadian writing community today. Here’s my contribution.

My article runs in Writers’ Union of Canada mag

Tuesday, January 5th, 2010

Early in the fall, I was asked to write a piece for the fall/winter edition of WRITE, the official magazine of the Writers’ Union of Canada (WUC). The magazine is now out there, with Paul Quarrington on the cover, and focuses on Canadian humour. I was only too happy to oblige. I joined the WUC in the fall, figuring a contributor to the magazine better be a member. I wish I could actually reproduce the article here, but the magazine is only available to WUC members, and I wouldn’t want to be drummed out of the organization within a few months of joining! After all, membership has its privileges! Other contributors to this humour edition include my friend and fellow Leacock Medal winner, Mark Leiren-Young, the hilarious Drew Hayden Taylor (whose new novel I’ve recently blurbed), and the very funny Erika Ritter, among others. The magazine is great, and well worth reading, even with my piece! (Psst! The article I contributed is quite like the essay that ran on the Globe and Mail books site last spring.)

Thinking of Paul Quarrington today…

Monday, June 1st, 2009


As I wrote recently in one of my little “Writers I revere” posts, I’ve been a fan of Paul Quarrington for over 20 years.  I’ve read all of his novels and have first editions of each one.  I’ve always admired him and his writing.  So it was wonderful to share the stage with him in April at the Grimsby Author Series.

I started my day this morning as I often do, reading the Toronto Star.  To my great shock and concern, there was a story about Paul and his lung cancer diagnosis made two weeks ago.  What a bastard this disease is.  It’s fitting that today is dreary, overcast, and melancholy.  That just about sums up how I feel. Paul, your many fans are sending you positive vibes…


Writers I revere: Paul Quarrington

Saturday, May 23rd, 2009


I first read King Leary, Paul Quarrington‘s 1987 Leacock winning novel, shortly after it was published, and then proceeded to read everything else Quarrington has written before and since.  I loved King Leary.  Its mix of humour and pathos is masterful.  And, it’s about hockey!  Sports figures in a number of Quarrington’s earlier works that I also thoroughly enjoyed including Logan in Overtime and perhaps my favourite of his books, Home Game.  In fact, I recommended Home Game during my recent  interview with Hannah Sung of the CBC Book Club.  But Quarrington is no one-trick pony. His fiction ranges from sports, to the early days of the movie business in Civilization, to life in a small town in The Life of Hope, to the story of a drugged out and freaked out rock icon in Whale Music (1989 Governor General’s Award), to the world of Las Vegas magicians in The Spirit Cabinet, to storm chasers in Gavelston.  His latest book is The Ravine and is his most autobiographical novel.

Quarrington’s uncanny ability to make you laugh one moment and then break your heart in the next, is a gift that has always kept me turning the pages.  His humour is never gratuitous but is fully embodied in the story he’s telling. He creates characters that, while larger than life and sometimes even picaresque,  are fully realized and ready to step off the page.  There’s a John Irvingesque feel to his writing yet Quarrington is never derivative.  He’s an original. I confess that while I have loved all of his novels, I think I enjoyed his earlier offerings most of all.

I have collected first editions of his novels, including his very first, The Service, published by Coach House Press in 1978.  A high point of the last year for me, was driving to Grimsby with Paul, having dinner with him, and then sharing the stage with him as we both read from our novels at the wonderful Grimsby Author Series.  What a thrill.  As I wrote in an earlier blog post, Paul dutifully inscribed my first editions of his novel that I lugged in a backpack.  Nice.

Paul also writes nonfiction, screenplays, and music.  A man of many talents.  If you haven’t yet read a Quarrington novel, do yourself a favour and pick one up.  Then get ready to read the others…

Here we are signing at the Grimsby Author Series. This photo accompanied an article in Niagara This Week.


TBLP on CBC Radio Book Club

Monday, April 20th, 2009


Over at the CBC Book Club webpage, Canadians have been invited to submit favourite funny books.  Towards the end of the month, a list will be compiled and released.  As part of the CBC Book Club’s celebration of humour, I did a brief interview with host Hannah Sung.  You can listen to the interview here.  In f act, if you listen closely in the early going, you might even be able to hear my cell phone ring before I frantically turned it off while trying to sound intelligent at the same time (a challenge at the best of times!).  In my conversation with Hannah, I’m asked to recommend a funny book.  I suggested The Home Game by Paul Quarrington, a favourite novel from a favourite writer.  Anyway, feel free to head over to the CBC Book Club blog and add to the comment string to submit your favourite funny books.


Grimsby Authors Series – a great night

Saturday, April 4th, 2009


This past Wednesday, late in the day,  my wonderful publicist, Frances Bedford, picked me up at my office for a drive to Grimsby.  I piled into the back seat because the one and only Paul Quarrington was in the front seat. Yes, I drove to the Grimsby Authors Series night with one of my Canlit heroes.  I tried not to be the gushing author stalker but it was a challenge given that I dragged into the back seat with me a backpack filled with my first editions of all ten of his wonderful novels.  I’d been collecting his novels  long before I ever contemplated writing TBLP.  As well, Paul Quarrington won the 1988 Leacock Medal for King Leary, the same book chosen last year for CBC’s Canada Reads.

We had dinner together and then the two of us read before a very generous and enthusiastic audience of nearly 200 at the Casablanca Winery Inn.  Mercifully, I read first for about 25 minutes and then answered a few questions.  Then Paul read from his latest novel, The Ravine, and he was hilarious and wise.

A local bookseller took care of book sales at the event and I’m pleased to report that TBLP sold out.  On the drive home after the reading, Paul generously inscribed each of my Quarrington first editions. An evening I won’t soon forget.



I just stumbled upon an article in Niagara This Week about the evening.  Here Paul and I are signing at the Grimsby Author Series.


It’s going to be a busy few months…

Friday, February 20th, 2009

I’ve just updated the Appearances page with a raft of new speaking/reading/signing gigs that have been coming in recently.  Many of the new ones are from public libraries, which I think is wonderful.  I’m thrilled that most libraries across the country seem to have stocked TBLP.  I always enjoy  meeting  book-lovers in general and TBLP readers in particular.  Perhaps I’ll see some of you at one of these upcoming events.  If you’re there, speak up!

  • Monday, February 23, 2009: A talk at another local Toronto-area book club.
  • Friday, March 27, 2009: A talk to a private book club in Caledon, Ontario.
  • Tuesday, March 31, 2009: A talk, Q&A, and book signing at The Whiff of Grape, a dinner club in Toronto running continuously since the 1960s.
  • Saturday, April 18, 2009, 2:00 p.m.: A talk, reading and panel discussion at the Port Hope Public Library with some local self-published authors.
  • Tuesday, April 21, 2009: A talk at a private book club in Ottawa, Ontario.
  • Thursday, April 30, 2009: A talk at a private book club in Orillia, Ontario, home to the Stephen Leacock Museum.