Over the last couple months, in between enjoying some fiction and working on my third novel (the second is with the publisher) I’ve read three literary biographies: the first sufficiently workmanlike to allow me to fill in the blanks and the other two delightful: Joseph Conrad: A Biography by Jeffrey Meyers; John le Carré: The Biography… Continue reading Talent, Effort, Experience, Luck
What do you write? Whatever I can’t get out of my mind. More often than not I find myself trying to make sense of what it’s like to be alive in the early twenty-first century. This most often takes the form of novels, poems, and essays. My poems are about anything. Increasingly the novels I’m writing… Continue reading Old-fashioned self-interview
Write what I have to, not what I want to.
My favourite gift to receive for Chanukah or Christmas, both of which we celebrate at home, is a book. Thanks to my wife Kara for this year’s wonderful choice of US National Book Award winner Charles Johnson’s The Way of the Writer. Part memoir, part how-to manual, part philosophical meditation from a writer and a… Continue reading “The Way of the Writer”
Character trumps language. Language trumps plot. Plot trumps setting, unless setting is a character.
Following are my remarks in acceptance of the 2016 Poetry Vine Award for Canadian Literature September 29, 2016 Toronto, Ontario Good afternoon. It’s wonderful to be here with you today. Some of you may be wondering what a nice Jewish book of poetry is doing with such a non-obviously poetic cover. I’ll come to… Continue reading The Jewish Literary Tradition
In university I had an English teacher who drove most of his students mad. He marked very harshly. Students who were used to A’s got C’s. B students eked out D’s. Everybody else failed. At a certain point, the class confronted him. Nobody could understand why his standards were so different. Some students actually complained… Continue reading The second-best way to learn how to write
I feel very fortunate that my novel Sons and Fathers was able to garner a high degree of media coverage for a literary novel published by an independent publisher. Sons and Fathers was written up in The National Post, New Brunswick’s Telegraph-Journal, Calgary Herald, the Ottawa-based Hill Times, Quill and Quire, and rated a brief… Continue reading When “poetry became bad”
Canada has a proud literary tradition of poets who go on to write novels. Leonard Cohen, Margaret Atwood, Anne Michaels, and Michael Ondaatje are just a few that come to mind. This phenomenon is comparable in part to the one in which many writers start off with short stories before penning a novel. Short story… Continue reading Of poets and novelists
When I’m speaking about Sons and Fathers, either at a formal event or in conversation with a friend, readers often ask me five very interesting questions. Here they are, along with my typical answers. How do you find the time to write with a young family and full-time job? Ah, the million dollar question! I… Continue reading The questions on your mind