Elizabeth Renzetti's Red Letter Day

Red Letter Day is the 49th Shelf series where Canadian authors tell us 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 Elizabeth Renzetti, Globe and Mail columnist and now author of the novel, Based on a True Story, which The Winnipeg Free Press calls "a winner ... hilarious and dark, always riveting, and crammed with satirical observations."

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 ...

*****

49th Shelf: You walk (or fly!) to your favourite bookstore (ER: Daunt Books in London) and browse the shelves for three books you’ve been meaning to buy. What are they?

ER:

49th Shelf: 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?

ER:

49th Shelf: 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: I’d actually jump off the couch and go to Woodbine racetrack, because I love horse racing and no amount of money flying from my wallet will ever keep me from it.

taco

49th Shelf: 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: Tacos Baja Ensenada in Los Angeles, because its fish tacos are still the best thing I’ve ever eaten. And the drive to east LA is crazy fun.

49th Shelf: At dinner, that good old question comes up: what would you be if you weren’t a writer?

broadway

ER: I would be a dresser on Broadway or London’s West End, and therefore privy to the most scurrilous gossip and fiercest catfights.

49th Shelf: Then they ask you about your latest book. What do you say? How do you describe it in two sentences?

ER: It’s an alcohol-soaked comedy of failure and revenge. Augusta, an actress who has trouble with booze and the truth, recruits a hapless journalist in a hunt for the lover who betrayed her.

49th Shelf: 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.

ER: Freedom from Torture.

49th Shelf: 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: Last Temptation of Bond, by Kimmy Beach.

*****

elizabeth renzetti

Elizabeth Renzetti has worked at the Globe and Mail since the dawn of time. At least she remembers when the newsroom had a smoking room, aka place of best gossip. She has worked for the Globe in Los Angeles and London, allowing her to interview Keith Richards twice (a career highlight.) Now she writes a twice-weekly column for the newspaper. Based on a True Story (House of Anansi), which is not in fact based on a true story, is her first novel.

June 18, 2014
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