Gilmour on the writing, the parenting, the ego 

Governor General award-winning author in Whistler for literary fest

By Vivian Moreau

David Gilmour is feeling good. He’s just finished his latest book, he’s sipping some fine java in his Toronto home and he’s chatting with a reporter.

In Whistler next week for Literary Leanings, a three-day literary schmooze fest, Gilmour will read from his award-winning novel A Perfect Night to Go to China (Thomas Allen, 2005) . And hit the slopes, something he hasn’t done in almost 30 years.

“I’m definitely going to try,” he said, “because otherwise I’ll just end up sitting in a bar drinking.” He admits for the past year and a half since he won the Governor General’s award for his novel that review magazine Quill and Quire lauded for its “refusal to tell us everything’s going to be okay,” he’s knocked more than a few back to celebrate the book’s win, a coup he said that had just as much to do with the jury as the book.

“If you win the Governor General award what you win is a jury,” Gilmour said, “which is to say you win a collection of people who see your work the way you do and if you don’t win it, it means you’ve got a jury who doesn’t see it the way you do.”

Gilmour says the writing life he fantasized about at 18 in a university cafeteria has come true. Every morning he approaches with joy the two hours of writing he puts in each day.

“I have a real sense of exhilaration and just delight that somehow I’ve pulled this off and that it’s actually ended up being my life.”

In addition to fiction writing Gilmour reviews films and books for the Globe and Mail and the National Post . He reviewed films for CBC’s The Journal and The National and through the 1990s hosted CBC’s Gilmour on the Arts . His latest project is a non-fiction book, The Film Club , about two years he spent in close confines with his stay-at-home son whom Gilmour had allowed to quit school in Grade 10.

“I said ‘Okay you can drop out of school, you don’t have to work, don’t have to pay rent, you can sleep until five every afternoon. But you have to watch three movies a week with me.’” Gilmour’s strategy was to savour his son’s company before teenage/parental disenfranchisement settled in completely and to trust his son would find his own way. His strategy worked. His son, now 21, finished school after two years of couch surfing and is now in university, a six-foot-four rapper, his dad says.

Although based on his relationship with his son, Gilmour said in the book he’s tried to keep the focus on his son and the films.

“My novels tend to be very autographical and I’m a little tired of the miracle of me and I wouldn’t be surprised if my readers were too,” he said.

But on the eve of Valentine’s Day, Gilmour is amiably firm on the benefits of a life of serial monogamy.

“I’m lucky,” he said. “I adore my ex-wives and I consider them very much my family and they’re around my life a lot… I had children with fabulous women and I realize just because you change beds you do not lose people like this out of your lives — because they are irreplaceable.”

David Gilmour reads with Annette Lapointe, John Vaillant, Stephen Vogler, Sara Leach and Lisa Richardson on Tuesday, Feb. 20, 6:30 p.m. at Maurice Young Millennium Place. Tickets, $15.

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