Michael Crummey is a Canadian poet and storyteller, and the author of three novels and a story collection. He’ll discuss his most recent novel, Galore, at Sunday’s Brooklyn Book Festival, and at 92YTribeca on Monday.
For our readers who may not be familiar with your work, what’s the most accurate thing someone else has said about it?
This was my father’s comment when he finished my first novel, River Thieves: “It was good in spots.”
Here’s my friend Janet after reading Galore: “I got soused on your book.” (Soused is my favourite Newfoundland description of being completely and pleasurably drunk.)
Most readers I’ve heard from come down somewhere between the two.
What have you read/watched/listened to/looked at/ate recently that will permanently change our readers’ lives for the better?
I was lucky enough to see Leonard Cohen, live at Holy Heart Auditorium in St. John’s a while back, during his most recent tour. Best show I’ve ever witnessed. It was something approaching a religious experience. If he’s still on the road, I say catch him if you can.
And speaking of catching: the closest thing I’ve had to a religious experience in the last couple of weeks was a meal of cod eaten the day it was caught, pan fried with scruncheons and onions. It didn’t exactly change my life, but the vegan next to me with her greens and tofu finally said: “All right, I can’t stand the look on your face anymore, let me have a taste.”
Whose ghostwritten celebrity tell-all (or novel) would you sprint to the store to buy (along with a copy of The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius so that the checkout clerk doesn’t look at you screwy)?
How about Madonna? I know she did the sex book already, but it’s her mind I’m in love with.
Have you ever been a Starving Artist, and did it make you brilliant, or just hungry?
Not only have I been a starving artist, I lived in a garret for a while, a little attic room with a dormer window. Wrote my first novel up there, living on no-name soup and Kraft Mac & Cheese. As for whether it made me brilliant, see Dad’s comment, above.
What would you characterize as an ideal interaction with a reader?
Sitting beside someone on a bus or a plane who takes out Galore to finish the last few pages and then says, “This guy is terrific.”
Me: “Never heard of him.”
Reader: “I loved this book.”
Me: “Crummey. Is that a made-up name or something?”
Reader: “He’s really great.”
Me: “Are you going to eat those peanuts?”
Have you ever written anything that you’d like to take back?
Wrote some letters to a woman I was trying to convince myself I was in love with, a long time ago. Apparently she still has them, or so she claimed when I ran into her at a writer’s festival in Vancouver a few years back. A mortifying thought. I asked if she’d be willing to return them. Still waiting on that. Maybe she burned them for me.