Tuesday, September 6, 2011

David Gilmour in the NaPo


This article by Mark Medley in the National Post based on an interview he conducted with David Gilmour upon the release of his latest novel brought to mind a similarly bizarre explosion some years back when listening to Nigel Beale's interview podcast with Gilmour a day after he won the Gov-Gen Award for A Perfect Night to go to China. But first to the NaPo piece.

Gilmour doesn't hang out with writers because they're "insecure".

He then recounts how he went on a manhunt for Andre Alexis after the reviewer had trashed A Perfect Night to go to China. A year and a half of rage. But he calmed down. "Beating the living shit out of this guy" became a plan to "slap him across the face". Medley reassures Alexis: "Still, the critic can breath [sic] easy -- if they do come face-to-face, 'I'm going to try to keep my hands to myself', Gilmour promises." I love the hilarious "try" and "promises". I'm sure Alexis' pulse would slow a few dozen beats per minute if he spotted those two words. It's now been five years since that thumbs-down review.

Beale, in his probing interview, asked Gilmour about the GG award process. The author, to his credit, admitted that success depended completely on the luck of the draw as to who the jurists were that particular year. He followed that up with this juvenile head-scratcher regarding his win: "everyone who's ever been a critic is going to have to eat it". But why would critics uncharitable to Gilmour's work care if he won the award or not since even Gilmour doesn't believe it has any objective merit?

But then the shit really hit the fan. Beale was highly praiseworthy of the book as a whole, but prefaced his comments with this: "I didn't like some of the similes you used in the first two chapters." Gilmour's response?

"Are you fucking with me? Don't fuck with me about my work. I don't put up with bullshit from people. Don't you be telling me that the quality of my work differs from one chapter to another. That is fucking presumptuous. I won't put up with that bullshit, do you understand? Fuck you."

But it gets better. Switching gears ....

"Those books are like children. When someone ... says, 'I like your first son, but I don't like your daughter', my response is to say 'fuck you'. "

The analogy is silly. A book is an insentient collection of words. It would be more accurate to say that a book is a closed-loop extention of the author, or father, to use Gilmour's terms. But rushing to the rescue of the honour of one's son is more noble than justifying one's artistic production by rage and threats. But let's play with his comparison, anyway. A son (or daughter) has to grow up. If a father attempts to continually coddle his offspring from the inevitable challenges and horrors of life, it promotes dependence and -- ironically -- a greater chance that protective intervention will need to be undertaken to save the bubble-world child/adolescent/adult. Which brings us back to the NaPo article.

Gilmour doesn't mix with writers because they're "insecure". Didn't Freud call this projection?

Another irony is that Gilmour relished sticking it to his guests, without warning, when he hosted his own TV arts program.

I bought A Perfect Night to go to China several months ago, but have been plowing through other novels since then. I'm in the middle of two others now, but when I finish them, I'll pick up Gilmour's book, read it, then review it in this space. Yes, even under the implicit threat of physical backlash! I just won't tell the greater public which bars I frequent.

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