Wednesday, November 5, 2008


Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer for DESK SPACE


KATHRYN KUITENBROUWER Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer. I write novels and short stories, am the magazine editor for, teach at the University of Toronto, write reviews for various publications including the Globe and Mail. I live in High Park.

DS When did you start writing, publish your first book or when are you publishing your next?

KK I don’t remember when I started writing, but was certainly writing storybooks by kindergarten and grade one. Clowns featured.
Way Up, a collection of stories was published in 2003. A novel, The Nettle Spinner was published in 2005. My second novel Perfecting will be published in the spring of 2009.

DS Where do write (at your desk/outside/in bed)?

KK I wrote at my desk with a kind of monastic routine until my chair broke and I bought one of those kneeling prayer chairs (thinking it might help) but I hate the damn thing as it requires abdominal muscles. Now I can’t bear the space at all so I write on a laptop at the dining room table, amidst the vile cutlery and soiled plates or, channeling Colette, who wrote in bed, on the couch under a boiled wool blanket, which incidentally can induce severe lower back strain. I suppose I ought to go out and buy a new chair at some point, but the thing cost a pretty penny and I feel lousy about wasting the money.

DS Why you work where you do (at your desk because it is a quiet space/outside b/c it helps you think or in the park b/c you can smoke, etc)?

KK It’s that damn chair, again. I feel terribly guilty about it all. My husband built a mantle around the fireplace in my office and beautiful built-in bookshelves. The room is insulated with a double row of books on the exterior wall, so quite cosy. There is a lovely Persian carpet in the room, as well as art by Scott Griffin and Holly Farrell (they actually have a show together upcoming in Seattle). The room is my sanctuary, mired only by the presence of that nasty chair. So, I work where I work by default, by guilty necessity.

DS What are you working on now?

KK I am manically rewriting the opening bits to my new novel, Perfecting:

“Thirty years had passed by and the last six were droughted. Martha walked the Pecos River determined, and when she came at it, she skirted the prickly pear, grabbed weeping willow boughs here and there for stability. She was a beauty, had on handmade ropers people here could not afford. Black horse leather boots that would make anyone look cowboy. She had sweet hips, hair cut straight, a bob, no bangs, and dyed black. Hips to dare touch. Black jeans, black eyelet shirt. The river was but a thin wet meander cleaving desiccated banks, down to a trickle in most places, and where it ran strong, it still couldn’t be called a river much. But they called it that, holding onto hope, while north and south, good neighbours squabbled over who got what water. The land around was a red-skinned beauty, too, with hips to make a man cry or dare to touch.”

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