Red Letter Day is the 49th Shelf series where Canadian authors tell me about a dream day where all pleasures are possible, thanks to a combination of extraordinary talent and mad cash.
Today that day is envisioned by Eliza Robertson, author of the upcoming short story collection, Wallflowers.
Here is the premise: It’s been a good year. Things are looking up. You’ve sold your book, some lucrative foreign rights, and won a few prizes. AND it’s your birthday. It’s time to treat yourself. For once, money is no object. It’s time to go live a little.
And so ...
GM: You walk (or fly!) to your favourite bookstore (ER: Munro's in Victoria) and browse the shelves for three books you’ve been meaning to buy. What are they?
GM: Then you see a struggling student scanning the shelves of the Canadian Literature section. You decide to “pay it forward” and buy three must-read books by Canadian authors to leave anonymously at the counter for the student. What are they?
- Oxygen, by Annabel Lyon
- 19 Knives, by Mark Anthony Jarman
- All the Anxious Girls on Earth, by Zsuzsi Gartner
GM: You’re a little bushed from all that buying and being considerate. So you’re going to go home, flake out on the couch for a while, and do something to celebrate the birthday. What is it?
ER: Listen to a killer album: Mingus Plays Piano: Spontaneous Compositions and Improvisations.
GM: Now you’re going to fly ten friends into town and take them out for dinner somewhere special. Where are you going to go? Why?
ER: We're going to a hole-in-the-wall sushi restaurant in Vancouver, or Sushi Plus in Victoria, because not every sushi restaurant should look slick. Also, the nori is rolled looser. That makes it easier to pick apart with chopsticks, which I do. OR—Vij 's in Vancouver, which is not a hole in anyone's wall, but delicious. (GM: Check out Vij's cookbooks.)
GM: At dinner, that good old question comes up: what would you be if you weren’t a writer?
ER: A filmmaker. Or otherwise involved in production. I think I'd make an alright 1st AD.
GM: Then they ask you about your latest book. What do you say? How do you describe it in two sentences?
ER: It's a bit of a piñata. The candy's all different inside. However, in assembling the stories together, I did note some commonalities. Many include birds, for example. And the characters are almost always alone.
GM: Finally, because you’re the sort of person who puts aside 10% of your income for charity, you decide to spend make a significant a charitable donation. To whom?
ER: I have donated to PEERS (Prostitutes' Empowerment, Education and Resource Society) in the past.
GM: That night you head to bed a contented person. Only one thing remains: deciding which of your new books you’ll read first until you fall asleep.
ER: Let's start with Anne Carson. Plainwater.
Eliza Robertson was born in Vancouver and studied creative writing at the University of Victoria. She pursued her MA in Prose Fiction at the University of East Anglia, where she received the Man Booker Scholarship and the Curtis Brown Prize for best writer. In 2013, she won the Commonwealth Short Story Prize and was a finalist for the Journey Prize and the CBC Short Story Prize. Her debut story collection, Wallflowers, will be published later this year. You can find her on Twitter at @ElizaRoberts0n.
Check out Jon Paul Fiorentino's Red Letter Day
Check out Stephanie Domet's Red Letter Day
Here's one of the tracks from Mingus Plays Piano:
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