Friday, December 30, 2016

What I'm Reading Now

"For that moment, she only knew the empty ache beside her, the void where her sister was supposed to be." -Katherena Vermette, The Break

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Indie Book Fair

We had fun yesterday standing, leaning, slouching, and sitting behind our table at the Meet the Presses Indie Book Fair in Toronto. We (me, Rebecca Comay, Bernard Kelly) were there for our chapbook press, espresso. I picked up a nice haul of small books and chapbooks, which you can see in the third photo. (The first two were taken by Bernard.) We ourselves
sold 30 books, which was quite satisfactory. The owner of a new bookstore in Dundas Ontario, The Printed Word, bought copies of all our titles for his store. We wish this brave young man much luck and hope to visit it in the not too-too distant future.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Jarrett Lerner on 'Danny Who Fell in a Hole'

The writer Jarrett Lerner has posted a review of 'Danny Who Fell in the Hole' that is the most thoughtful response to the book I've seen. My thanks to him. You can read it at

Monday, October 31, 2016

Cleaning house

Cleaning out stuff from my parents' house I came across this manuscript, which I wrote in (I think) 1979. I'd gone to see Timothy Findley, then the writer in residence at the University of Toronto where I was in my last undergraduate year. Tiff (as his friends called him) read a short story manuscript of mine called "Vienna Street" that was loosely based on the street I grew up on until the age of about twelve. He liked it and suggested that I turn it into a script for the CBC. I had my doubts but didn't see any harm in trying. This is the manuscript, which I haven't seen or thought of in decades. Someone at the CBC did read it and say nice things but, of course, passed on it. Timothy Findley, however, continued to be kind in several ways. He introduced me to his agent (who ignored my attempts to get in touch) and later praised my work during a television interview, based on a small chapbook that I'd self-published (100 or so copies). I used that quote on my first books before finally retiring it. Of course I was hardly the only young writer Tiff helped. He was a generous and warm-hearted person who believed it his duty to give the next generation a lift up whenever possible. Timothy Findley was a fine writer and a fine man.

Monday, October 24, 2016

A cover that wasn't to be

Just over six years ago my novel Valentine's Fall was published by Cormorant Books. I really liked the original cover design for this novel about a man meeting his old high school friends again. As I happened to come across it today I thought I'd post it here. The problem was, by coincidence the cover turned out to look remarkably similar to a very recent book about a tragic subject. I'm posting that cover, too. So it had to change and fast, as the book was about to go to print. The cover that replaced it, shown last, captures some of the more comic aspects of the book and has its good points but I was sorry to have to lose the original
. It's an interesting example of how a designer can go in very different directions for the same book. Which one do you like best?

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

What I'm (Re-)Reading #3

"The fact remains that getting people right is not what living is all about anyway. It's getting them wrong that is living, getting them wrong and wrong and wrong and then, on careful reconsideration, getting them wrong again. That's how we know we're alive: we're wrong." Philip Roth, American Pastoral.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

A new chapbook...and a launch on Tuesday Sept. 27!

Our small press, espresso books, is launching a new title and it's my own 'What I Learned in Florida,' a series of brief essays about childhood. Drawings by Sophie Fagan. We're having a launch at Field Trip Cafe, 3 Westmoreland Ave. (Ossington subway stop). Tuesday Sept. 27 8 p.m. Why not join us? Here are some photos from the binding process as well as the just-finished book.
You can find out more (and order the book online, too) at

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

A writing workshop...for kids!

I'll be giving a writing workshop for kids at the Lillian Smith Library in Toronto and it's free. Here are the details: Writing, Your Own Way 4:00 p.m. - 5:30 p.m. on recurring dates listed below 90 mins Lillian H. Smith Would you like to try writing a story, a poem, or even something from real life? Join award-winning author Cary Fagan in a fun workshop that takes your writing seriously. With Cary's guidance you can write a story in the form of a letter, a haiku, or just go your own way. For children ages 8 to 12. Space is limited. Registration begins September 1st in the branch or by calling 416-393-7746. Sophie's Studio was created to support early literacy, creativity and writing skills in young children thanks to a bequest from long-time library lover and user Sophia Lucyk.

Friday, August 26, 2016

What I'm Reading # 2

"Not an unbeliever, sir, a free-thinker. Perhaps you've never thought about the difference. As a free-thinker I can believe what I like, when I like. I can commit you, in your sad situation, to the protection of God this evening, even though tomorrow morning I shan't believe he exists. As an unbeliever I should be obliged not to believe, and that's an unwarrantable restriction on my thoughts." Penelope Fitzgerald, The Beginning of Spring.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

A new espresso chapbook

We (meaning Rebecca Comay, Bernard Kelly and myself) have just published a new chapbook under our espresso imprint. Fan Wu's 'Hoarfrost & Solace' is a beautiful and fascinating sequence, a series of translations from the Chinese that move farther from the original with each iteration. You can read more about it (and order it, if you like) at our website:

Friday, June 3, 2016

What I'm Reading #1

"There was something scary about watching an adult sleep. It was as if no one at all were in charge of the world." Kate DiCamillo, Raymie Nightingale

Monday, May 9, 2016

National Magazine Awards

"My Father's Picasso," a story published in 'Geist,' has been nominated for a National Magazine Award. Other fiction nominees include Russell Smith
, Zsuzsi Gartner, and Elizabeth Harvor. You can see all the National Magazine Award nominees at

Monday, May 2, 2016

Sudbury Reading Town!

I'm excited to be heading to Sudbury for the bilingual Reading Town literary festival. And honoured that the fest has chosen "Mr. Zinger's Hat" as the book to be read by the entire city--at the same time! I'll be seeing a student play based on the book, visiting schools, and...marching in a parade! Who says being an author means sitting alone at a desk?