Thursday, July 30, 2009


DESK SPACE Who (a one-liner or a bio)?

Steven W. Beattie, an intrepid Toronto-based writer, blogger, and literary critic, who spends his days (and some of his evenings) masquerading as the mild-mannered review editor for Quill & Quire magazine.

DS When did you start writing?

SWB Well, my first poem, called “Snow Is Like,” was written in senior kindergarten, but I think that would properly be classified as juvenilia. I’ve been writing literary criticism for the past six years or so. I started writing for the now-defunct Books in Canada, then branched out to places like Q&Q, the Edmonton Journal, the Vancouver Sun, and Canadian Notes and Queries.

In 2006 I also launched a narcissistic little online side-project – a litblog called That Shakespeherian Rag – largely because I like to hear myself talk, and the only thing I feel well-versed enough to talk about is books. The blog seems to have taken on a life of its own, though, and has gone through several incarnations (including its latest this past May, when I inadvertently napalmed the whole site while trying to update my blogging software). It’s basically a place for me to spout off about CanLit, the book biz, and literature in general. In its newest incarnation, I also changed the name to That Shakespearean Rag, since there seemed to be a fair bit of confusion around T.S. Eliot’s idiosyncratic spelling. Never let it be said that I’m not a populist at heart.

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

SWB Most of my writing is done at my desk; most of my reading is done off site.

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

SWB I write at my desk because no one gives me dirty looks about the bottle of Jim Beam that I keep by my elbow at all times, and I can deck myself out like Charles Bukowski in my boxers and a wife-beater undershirt.

That, and I have access to my library. Much of my writing process involves tearing through reference books, old novels I haven’t read in years, and other idiosyncratic stuff on my bookshelves. There’s a sense of security in knowing that all that stuff’s at hand, which makes it feel less like I’m working without a safety net.

If I were writing fiction, I could see maybe wanting to change locations, just to shake things up a bit. I’ve always been partial to writing in pubs, although the prose gets less articulate with each successive drink.

DS What are you working on now?

SWB A proof of Einstein’s theory of relativity. That, and some more criticism. There may be some fiction in my future, but that’s a bit further down the road. Right now I’m concentrating on what I do best: annoying people in the Canadian literary world.

1 comment:

Alex said...

Hmmm. That appears to be a rather well-thumbed copy of Scott Smith's "The Ruins." Some of the other books . . . not so much. Though I wouldn't want to read anything into that.