Transcript: Imprint season 14 episode 13 | Dec 18, 2002

Tina Srebotnjak stands in a studio with pieces of art in red and orange hanging in the background.
She’s in her late thirties, with short chestnut hair and bangs. She’s wearing a long ivory blazer.

Tina says HELLO THERE.
TONIGHT ON IMPRINT, THE GREAT
LITERARY DEBATE.
FICTION VERSUS NONFICTION.

(piano music plays)
A clip shows a bookstore.

She continues IS A NOVEL A BETTER READ THAN A
BIOGRAPHY?
TWO WRITERS TAKE THE GLOVES
OFF IN A BATTLE FOR YOUR
HEARTS AND MINDS.
PULITZER PRIZE WINNER, MICHAEL B. KNEW
FROM AGE 10 HE WANTED TO BE A
WRITER THANKS TO A STORY HE
WROTE IN GRADE SCHOOL.

At an interview, Michael says IT WAS VERY PLRNABLE FOR ME
TO DO THAT, TO TELL A STORY IN
THAT WAY.

Tina says I BET.

Michael says AND THEN, HOW I COULD DO
SOMETHING, THAT MUCH FUN AND
GET RAISED FOR IT.
THAT'S WHAT I WANT TO DO.

Tina says AND WRITING AS A CAREER
CHOICE, BE CAREFUL WHEN YOU
BREAK THAT NEWS TO THE FAMILY.

Terry says MY PARENTS, THEY JUST WANT ME
TO TREAT IT AS A HOBBY.

Jeffrey says I FIRST WANTED TO BE AN ACTOR
AND THOUGHT IT WAS A TERRIBLE
IDEA.
I WAS 14 OR 15 AT THE TIME.
THEY THOUGHT AN ACTOR, THAT'S
A HARD LIFE.
SO A YEAR LATER I DECIDED TO
BE A WRITER AND FOR SOME CRAZY
REASON, THEY THOUGHT IT WAS A
RATHER PRUDENT CAREER PATH.

Edo van Belkom says THEY THOUGHT IT WAS GREAT
AND I PROVED THEM WRONG.

Theme music plays as the opening sequence rolls.
Fast clips show books and maps in hues of orange and red.

Back in the studio, Tina says
WELL, HERE IN THE LITERARY
TRENCHES, WE HAVE NOTICED THAT
READERS OFTEN DIVIDE IN TWO CANS, FICTION LOVERS,
THOSE WHO SOAK UP ALL OF THE
HOT NOVELS OF THE SEASON AND
NONFICTION JUNKIES.
THOSE WHO REVEL IN THE FACTS
OF THE GREAT BIOGRAPHY OR A
BOOK OF HISTORY.
WHICH IS THE BETTER READ?
WE TURN TO TWO EXPERTS TODAY,
ONE WRITER FROM EACH JENRE.
CHARLOTTE, ONE OF CANADA’S MOST RESPECTED BIOGRAPHERS AND
ANTANAS, A NOVELIST AND ARTISTIC
DIRECTOR OF TORONTO SCHOOL FOR
WRITERS, HELLO, YOU TWO.

Charlotte and Antanas say HI.

Tina asks AND, WHICH IS A BETTER READ,
FICTION OR NON?

A caption appears on screen. It reads "Antanas Sileika. Humber School for Writers." Antanas is in his fifties, with a short beard and blond hair.

Antanas says I HAVE TO SAY FICTION IS,
GENERALLY SPEAKING, ALL RIGHT.
ALL KINDS OF WONDERFUL THINGS
THAT EXIST IN NONFICTION, A
WHOLE SCALE. BUT, I WOULD HAVE
TO SAY DEFINITELY FICTION AND
AT LEAST TWO REASONS AND THE
FIRST ONE GOES LIKE THIS.
BECAUSE I OFTEN THOUGHT
IF YOU ARE A NONFICTION WRITER,
YOU ARE LIKE A TAILOR,
HERE YOU HAVE THE MAN AND CHOOSE HOW TO
DRESS HIM.
WHAT SUIT ARE YOU GOING TO MAKE
TO A GREATER OR LESSER DEGREE,
OR SUCCEED. BUT IF YOU ARE A
FICTION WRITER, YOU HAVE TO
CREATE THE MAN AS WELL.
IT GETS MORE COMPLICATED AND
THEN YOU HAVE TO DECIDE WHAT
KIND OF A SUIT HE'S GOING TO
WEAR.
THE SECOND ITEM IS THIS:
NOVELS, IN LOSTS OF EUROPEAN
LANGUAGES IT’S CALLED ROMANOS,
WHICH IS BASED
ON ROMANCE AND FUNDAMENTALLY,
WHAT A NOVEL DOES IS GIVE YOU
A CERTAIN AMOUNT OF ROMANCE,
SO THAT ON A RAINY AFTERNOON,
IF THEY ARE HAVING TEA WITH MY
WIFE, MIGHT PICK UP A BOOK OF
POETRY OR NOVEL BUT UNLIKELY
WE WOULD SAY, PICK UP THE
HISTORY OF THE WARS AND SPEND
THE AFTERNOON.

Tina laughs.

Antanas continues IT STRIKES -- A NOVEL TAKES
FOR THE HEART AND AIMS FOR
EMOTION. I THINK GENERALLY
SPEAKING BUT NOT UNIVERSALLY
TRUE THAT NONFICTION STRIKES
MORE FOR THE BRAIN.

Tina says I MUST SAY THAT WAS A
COMPELLING OPENING STATEMENT.

Charlotte sits next to Antanas. She’s in her forties, with short wavy blond hair.

Charlotte says COMPELLING BUT RUBBISH.

Antanas laugh.

Charlotte continues YOU BASICALLY JUST ARGUING FOR
ESCAPISM, THAT WHEN YOU SAY
READ, YOU ARE SAYING, WHAT YOU
WANT TO DO IS PICK UP A NOVEL
TO ESCAPE, TO ESCAPE INTO A
COMPLETELY CONSTRUCTED
UNIVERSITY.

The caption changes to "Charlotte Gray. Biographer."

Charlotte continues AND WHAT YOU ARE NOT SAYING
IS THAT HALF OF THE
NOVELS IN THIS WORLD, NOT VERY
GOOD, YOU HAVE TO ACTUALLY SAY-
WHAT YOU --

Antanas interrupts.

Charlotte continues MY TURN. YOU HAVE
TO ACTUALLY SAY, IT IS AN
ISSUE OF THE WRITING BECAUSE,
ONE OF THE GREAT FALLACYS ON
THIS DIVIDE BETWEEN FICTION
AND NONFICTION IS THAT SORT OF
FICTION IS THIS BEAUTIFULY
CONSTRUCTED COMPLETELY
ALTERNATIVE UNIVERSE
AND NONFICTION, THE WRITERS
JUST A SHOFLING, BARE FACTS AS
AT YOU AND BOTH OF US KNOW
THAT'S RUBBISH AND THAT,
FICTION IS OFTEN LARGELY AUTO
BIOGRAPHICAL AND NONFICTION,
ANYTHING THAT SHOVELS GREAT
UNDIGESTED AMOUNTS OF FACTS AT
YOU, I MEAN WHETHER IT IS
ABOUT THE PELOPONESE WAR,
NOBODY'S GOING TO READ.

Tina says WHAT ABOUT I WANT A STORY, A
READER MIGHT SAY. I WANT A
GOOD NARRATIVE, SOMETHING THAT'S
JUST GOING TO TELL ME A STORY ABOUT
SOMEBODY ELSE.

Charlotte says A WELL WRITTEN NONFICTION
WILL GIVE YOU NARRATIVE, WILL
GIVE YOU A STORY.
IT'S MORE CHALLENGE IN
MANY WAYS TO DO THAT.
OF COURSE, WHEN YOU ARE THEN
STARTING TO LOOK AT MODERN
FICTION, YOU ARE NOT OFTEN
GETTING A STORY.
THE HOLES OF THE POST
MODERNIST MOVEMENT IS TO
EXPLODE THE NARRATIVE BECAUSE
IT IS FALSE.

Antanas says I THINK THERE IS A COUPLE OF
THINGS GOING ON. IT ALWAYS
DEPENDS ON THE WRITING BUT
THERE ARE A COUPLE OF IMPORTANT
FACTORS THAT COME INTO PLAY.
FIRST OF ALL, PEOPLE JUST WANT
ESCAPISM.
BUT THE FACTS OF THE MATTER IS
AND THE ADVERTISING PEOPLE
KNOW THIS.
THEY DON'T SAY, THIS LEATHER
JACKET IS A MORE FINALLY MADE
LEATHER JACKET. THEY SAY,
IMAGINE YOURSELF AT THE TOP OF
THE SPANISH STEPS IN ROME. OH,
YES, I CAN IMAGINE MYSELF.

Charlotte says YOU LIKE ADVERTISING
SLOGANS?

Tina laughs.

Antanas says IT IS NOT A QUESTION OF
LIKING.
IT IS RECOGNIZING WHAT IS IN
THE HUMAN NATURE, THE DESIRE
TO DREAM AND BE TOUCHED IN
THE HEART.
I THINK THOSE ARE THE THINGS
THAT PEOPLE, THERE IS A
LONGING THAT FICTION SEEMS TO
FILL
SO I LIKE THAT A LOT. SO OF
COURSE THE WRITING -- BUT
ULTIMATELY, I THINK THAT ALL
DAY, IN ORDER TO WORK, AND I
WANT A DIFFERENT KIND OF
THINKING, IT'S A FORM OF
DREAMING, IT INVITES YOU TO
DREAM AND I THINK A MORE
PROFOUND WAY.

Tina says OKAY, CHARLOTTE, I KNOW YOU HAVE
SPOKEN ABOUT THIS BEFORE BUT
DO NONFICTION WRITERS GET THE
RESPECT THEY DESERVE?

Charlotte says ACTUALLY THE MOST PECULIAR
THING HAS HAPPENED IN CANADA
IN THE LAST 20 YEARS, IN THE
1970'S AND EARLY 1980'S WHEN I
FIRST ARRIVED HERE, IT WAS
NONFICTION WAS THE BIG THING.
PETER NEWMAN, THERE IS A WHOLE
LIST OF REALLY GOOD
BIOGRAPHERS, HISTORIANS,
NONFICTION WRITERS, IN THE
LAST FEW YEARS THIS IS
COMPLETELY REVERSED AND SORT
OF THE GOLD STANDARD IS NOW
FICTIONS, NOVELS, AND I THINK THIS
IS PARTLY ALL OF THESE
WONDERFUL PRIZES, AND I MEAN,
I WOULDN'T FOR A MINUTE RESENT
THE FACT THAT THERE ARE ALL OF
THESE WONDERFUL PRIZES EXPECT
THAT THEY HAVE COMPLETELY
SWAMPED THE NONFICTION FIELD
AND YOUNG WRITERS NOW THINK
THE ONLY WAY TO BE A WRITER IN
CANADA IS TO BE A FICTION
WRITER. AND I THINK THAT --
THAT LEADS TO TWO THINGS, THE
DOWNGRADING OF NONFICTION AND
ALSO A LOT OF -- A LOT OF
YOUNG WRITERS THAT WOULD BE
EXTREMELY GOOD AT NONFICTION
GETTING SUCKED INTO FICTION
WHICH THEY MAY NOT HAVE THE
SKILLS FOR SUCKED INTO
FICTION?

Antanas says WE OFTEN, WE ALWAYS TALKED
ABOUT FICTION.
AND IT BEING NINE TO ONE,
STUDENTS THAT WANTED TO STUDY
FICTION.
WE ARE IN ENDLESSLY TRYING, WE
CAN'T GIVE IT AWAY.

Tina says BUT IS THAT, CHARLOTTE SAID,
WE HAVE MADE OF THE FICTION WRITER,
SUCH A LITERARY SUPERSTAR -- THE
IMAGINATION.

Antanas says WE WERE STILL
LEADING THE POST 1967 CELEBRATION OF CANADA,
FINDING OURSELVES AND
WHAT HAPPEN IS THAT AFTER WE GO
TO THAT NATIONALISTIC PERIOD
ALL RIGHT,
WE HAVE HAD ENOUGH OF THAT NOW
AND NOW WE'RE MOVING ON.
I THINK THE FICTIONS STAY AROUND.

Tina says CHARLOTTE, DO NONFICTION
WRITERS GET A CHANCE TO
PRACTICE TR CRAFT ANYWHERE
EVEN IF INCLINED TOWARD IT?
ARE THERE VENUES WHERE PEOPLE CAN WRITE,
FOR INSTANCE.
THE NEW YORKER OR THE ATLANTIC
MONTHLY COMES TO MIND WHERE A
PERSON CAN WRITE 10,000 WORD
ESSAY ON SOMETHING?

Charlotte says I LIKE LOTS OF NONFICTION
WRITERS.
WE WROTE FOR MAGAZINES LIKE
SATURDAY NIGHT AND WEEKEND
MAGAZINE AND THEY HAVE GONE.
AND IT WAS DURING THAT PERIOD
WHERE I WAS WRITING FEATURES
OF 5,000 WORD THAT I LEARNED
HOW TO STRUCTURE, HOW TO
CRAFT.
IT WAS A WONDERFUL SORT OF
GRADUATE SCHOOL IN CREATIVE
WRITING IN NON FICTION. THOSE
MAGAZINES HAVE GONE SO NO
WHERE NOW FOR A YOUNG WRITER
TO PRACTICE THE NONFICTION
CRAFT.
AND SO, INCREASINGLY,
NONFICTION IS BEING DOMINATED
BY ACADEMICS.
BY PEOPLE WHO HAVE COME OUT OF
A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT KIND OF
TRAINING AND A LOT OF THAT
STUFF IS UNREADABLE TO THESE
SORT OF AVERAGE JOES, BECAUSE
ACADEMICS TEND TO BE WRITING
FOR EACH OTHER.

Tina says HERE IS A QUESTION: IN FACT,
IS NONFICTION, IS THERE A PERCEPTION IS
HARDER TO READ?
IT IS JUST HARDER TO GET
THROUGH BECAUSE IT HASN'T GOT
THE SWEEP OR THE SORT OF
ROMANCE --

Charlotte says IN CANADA RIGHT NOW, I
WOULD SAY THAT'S ABSOLUTELY
TRUE.
THERE IS NOT THE POOL OF
NONFICTION WRITERS THAT THERE
SHOULD BE AND THIS IS ISN'T
EXCLUSIVE TO CANADA.
IF YOU LOOK AT THE BOOK
SHELVES IN THE UK OR THE US. YOU
WALK INTO A BOOK STORE IN
BRITAIN AND IT IS VERY FIRST
RACK YOU SEE IS BIOGRAPHY.
I WAS SORT OF SALIVATE.
WHY CAN'T WE DO THIS IN
CANADA.
NOT THAT I'M SELF-INTERESTED-

Antanas says I THINK THIS IS AMUSING BUT
THINK FOR HOW LONG THE
CANADIAN WRITERS WERE THE LITTLE
KIDS ON THE BLOCK AND NOW
FINALLY WE ARRIVED AND DOWN IN
CHICAGO, SOMEONE FROM NATIONAL
PUBLIC RADIO SAID, EVERYONE
AGREES NOW THAT THE CANADIAN
FICTION IS PREEMINENT WRITING
IN THE WORLD IN THE
ENGLISH LANGUAGE. WE REACH
THA POINT TO FIND OUT IT IS A
PROBLEM.

Tina laughs.

Charlotte says I AM NOT SAYING
A PROBLEM FOR THE FICTION
WRITER, I THINK IT IS TERRIFIC
FOR THEM. BUT I AM SAYING
NONFICTION WRITERS HAVE BEEN
LEFT IN THE DUST.
AND I MEAN, JUST TO GO BACK TO
PRIZES, ONE OF THE THINGS THAT
HAS HAPPENED WITH THE PRIZES
AND THE FACT THAT CANADIAN
FICTION IS ALSO INTERNATIONAL
AND THEREFORE, WE'RE GETTING
THREE CANADIAN WRITERS SHORT
LISTED FOR THE BOOKER OR
WHATEVER.
IS THAT THIS ALL WASHES BACK
INTO CANADA.
IT MAKES IT EVEN MORE
GLAMOROUS AND NONFICTION,
CANADIAN NONFICTION, I MEAN IT
TENDS TO BE GROUNDED IN CANADA
SO IS IT DOESN'T SELL ABROAD
AND DOESN'T GET THE BENEFIT OF
THAT KIND OF,
SORT OF INTERNATIONAL DEMAND
COMING BACK INTO CANADA AND
ENCOURAGING PUBLISHERS TO LOOK
AT IT SERIOUSLY.

Tina says NOW LET ME ASK THIS
QUESTION ABOUT GENDER, BECAUSE
MY HUSBAND AND I HAVE THIS
CONDITIONING ARGUMENT.
HE SAYS WOMEN LIKE NOVELS AND
MEN LIKE NONFICTION, A
BOY-GIRL THING.
WHAT DO YOU THINK?

Charlotte says I THINK THAT WOMEN ARE
PREDOMINANT BOOK BUYERS,
CERTAINLY.

Tina says PERIOD.

Charlotte says THEY BUY MORE BOOKS THAN
MEN AND CERTAINLY TRUE THEY
BUY MORE FICTION.
AND IT IS INTERESTING THAT FOR
A LONG TIME, WOMEN WERE, IT
WAS REGARDED AS BEING A WASTE
OF TIME READING FICTION.
WHEN FICTION -- FICTION WAS NOT
GLAMOROUS IN THE 19TH CENTURY.
POETRY WAS THE GENRE, MEN AND
WOMEN WANTED TO READ AND
WANTED TO WRITE.
FICTION THEN WAS SORT
OF SEEN AS, YOU KNOW, IT WAS
ALWAYS ROMANCE NOVELS AND
WOMEN WERE JUST BEING ESCAPIST
WHEN THEY READ THEM.

Antanas says AND THE PRETELEVISION ERA.

Charlotte says SO NOW IT IS GLAMOROUS AND
PROPER.
IT IS JUST A LARGER SOCIETY
CHANGE.
I THINK A LOT OF THAT IS JUST
THE QUALITY OF ASSUMING THAT,
BOOKS ARE FILLED WITH
INFORMATION ARE GOING TO BE
BORING.
AND THEY'RE NOT.

Antanas says WOMEN HAVE ALWAYS BEEN THE
CONSUMERS OF CULTURE AND YOU
SEE THAT MUCH MORE -- YOU SEE
IT IN FICTION FOR SURE -- I GO TO THE HARBOR,
INTERNATIONAL HARBOR FESTIVAL
AND 70 PERCENT MIDDLE AGED
WOMEN. GO TO THE OPERA, THE
BALLET, THE SYMPHONY AND YOU
WILL VERY OFTEN SEE 70
PERCENT WOMEN AND 20 PERCENT
OF MEN ARE SNORING.
SO, I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO SAY
ABOUT THIS?
IT IS JUST I FACT OF THE WAY
THINGS ARE.
I WOULD SAY THAT MAYBE WOMEN
HAVE THE BETTER TASTES.

Tina says I WOULD SAY THAT TOO.
ONE LAST QUESTION, MY FAVOUR ITE, WHICH IS
MORE TRUE, NONFICTION OR
FICTION?

Charlotte says WHAT IS TRUTH?
I MEAN, I CAN TELL YOU, BEING
A BIOGRAPHER, WHAT JUST STUNS
ME IS HOW PEOPLE ACCEPT THAT
WHAT I WRITE, HAVING VERY
CAREFULLY RESEARCHED IT IS THE
ONLY TRUTH ON THE INDIVIDUAL
I'M WRITING ABOUT AND IT
ISN'T.

Antanas says AND FICTION TELLS US THE
TRUTH OF OUR HOPES AND OUR
DREAMS WHICH IS THE TRUTH YOU
CAN'T MEASURE IN ANY KIND OF
YARD STICK.

Tina says WELL, VERY IMPRESSIVE.
I MUST SAY ARGUMENTS FROM BOTH
OF YOU, NOW I DON'T KNOW WHAT
SIDE I'M ON.

Antanas laughs.

Tina continues NOW A WARNING TO
BUDDING WRITERS OF FICTION AND
NONFICTION.
NOT EVERYBODY MAY BE AS
ENTHUSIASTIC ABOUT YOUR CAREER
CHOICE AS YOU ARE.
HERE'S HOW THE FRIENDS AND
FAMILY OF SOME AUTHORS REACTED, I
BELIEVE INCLUDING OUR VERY OWN
CHARLOTTE GREY WHEN THEY BROKE
THE NEWS THAT WRITING WAS
THEIR TRUE CALLING.

Now on an animated slate, clips show different authors answering the question "How did people react when you told tem you wanted to be a writer?"

Stephen Brunt says THE PEOPLE WERE RELIEVED I
FOUND SOMETHING TO DO.
THAT IS WASN’T GOING TO BE A MUSICIAN,
THEY THOUGHT THIS WAS A
RELATIVELY SANE PROPOSITION
COMPARED TO ANYTHING I WANTED
TO DO.

Wayne Johnston says THEY USUALLY LAUGHED OR
WERE JUST COMPLETELY BE MUSED.
THEY HAD NO IDEA, LIKE I DID,
THAT BOOKS CAME FROM ANYWHERE
EXCEPT SOME NEBULUS.

Maxine Hong Kingston says A KEPT IT A SECRET SO THEY
NEVER KNEW.

Edo van Belkom says THEY THOUGHT
IT WAS CRAZY.
I PROVED THEM WRONG.

Austin Clarke says WITH CELEBRITY MIXED WITH A
CONVICTION THAT THEY HAD CAST
MY CHARACTER CORRECTLY MEANING,
THAT I WAS A BLASTED FOOL OR
CRAZY.

Emma Donoghue says THEY TOOK ME VRS
SERIOUSLY. IT ASTONISHS ME NOW
BUT THEY DID.

Tim O’Brien says THE WORD OH,-OH, CAME OUT
OF SOMEONE'S MOUTH.
PROBABLY MYMOM OR DAD.

Jeffrey Eugenides says I FIRST WANT TO BE AN ACTOR AND
THEY THOUGHT THIS WAS A TERRIBLE IDEA.
I WAS 14 OR 15 AT THE TIME.
THEY THOUGHT, AN ACTOR, THAT'S
A HARD LIFE.
SO A YEAR LATER, I SAID I
WANTED TO BE A WRITER AND FOR
SOME CRAZY REASON, THEY
THOUGHT IT THIS WAS A PRUDEN
CAREER PATH.

Guy Vanderhaeghe says WITH PITY AND HORROR.

Terry Woo A LOST MY OTHER FRIENDS ARE
MOSTLY ENGINEERS AND
ACCOUNTANTS, IT IS ALL
REALLY NEW TO THEM. THEY ARE
SUPPORTIVE AND VERY
ENTHUSIASTIC ABOUT IT.
MY PARENTS THOUGH, THEY JUST
WANT ME TO TREAT IT AS A
HOBBY.

Charlotte Gray says I THINK THE DAY AFTER I
ANNOUNCED I WANTED TO BE THE
FIRST FEMALE ASTRONAUT AND
THE DAY BEFORE I ANNOUNCED
THAT I WAS GOING TO BE A
BALLET DANCE,
SO EACH ANSWER WAS GIVEN
THE SAME AMOUNT OF
CREDIBILITY.

Now an animated book sitting on a car opens to reveal a clip of a male author signing books, followed by a baseball team playing a game.

Tina says UP NEXT, SUMMER LAND, THE
MAGICAL TRIBUTE TO BASEBALL
AND CHILDHOOD FROM AMERICAN
WRITER.
LATER, RECOMMENDED READING
FROM THE TORONTO OWE BLUEJAYS.
MICHAEL CHABON IS NOT EVEN 40 BUT SCORED ONE
LITERARY HOME RUN AFTER
ANOTHER.
AND A FEW YEARS AGO HE WON THE
PULITZER PRIZE FOR HIS NOVEL THE AMAZING
ADVENTURES OF KAVALIER AND CLAY,
AN EARLIER BOOK
BECAME THE HIT FILM WONDER
BOYS.
AND NOW MICHAEL HAS FULLFILLED
A CHILDHOOD DREAM WITH
SUMMER LAND, A SPRAWLING STORY
FOR YOUNG ADULTS.

The three books mentioned appear.

Tina continues SET IN A MAGICAL WORLD
WHERE BASEBALL RULES, IT’S GOT
FEATURED FILM WRITTEN ALL OVER
IT. IN A MINUTE MY
CONVERSATION WITH MICHAEL,
FIRST, HERE HE IS WITH HIS
FANS.

A clip features people queuing in a bookstore to get their books signed.

A young man says I AM A MAJOR FAN.
I JUST FIND HIS WRITING HONEST
AND SINCERE. HE WRITES WHAT
PEOPLE ARE THINKING AND
FEELING.

A man in his thirties says JUST HAD A VERY PLAYFUL AND
ARTICULATE. REALLY PRECISE
WRITING STYLE. I FIND A LOT OF
WRITERS LACK TODAY.

Michael speaks for his fans. He is in his late thirties, with shoulder-length wavy brown hair.

Michael says I WAS PREPREPARING TO WRITE
THIS BOOK FOR 28 YEARS BECAUSE
AT FIRST I CONCEIVED THE IDEA
WHEN I WAS 10 YEARS OLD. I
THINK THAT IS PART OF THE
EXPLANATION FOR WHY WHEN I
STARTED WRITING IT, IT ONLY
TOOK IF YOU ADDED UP ALL OF
THE TIME, ABOUT SEVEN MONTHS
TO WRITE.
I’VE BEEN WRITING IT IN SOME
PART OF MY BRAIN FOR ALL OF
THOSE YEARS AND ALL OF THE
READING I HAD DONE OVER THE
YEARS ABOUT METHOLOGY AND
BASEBALL AND SO ON, ALL
JUST WENT RIGHT INTO THAT BOOK
AND I KNEW WHY I HAD BEEN
DOING ALL THAT READING FOR ALL
OF THOSE YEARS.

Michael sits signing books. A female reader approaches him.

Michael says HI. HOW ARE YOU?

Now a clip plays of Tina interviewing Michael in a room at a stadium.

Tina says I AM AMAZED AT THE AGE OF
10 YOU HAD A SENSE YOU WERE
GOING TO BE A WRITER AND
OBVIOUSLY A REAL CLEAR IDEA
WHAT YOU WANTED TO DO?

Michael says IT JUST CAME NATURAL TO ME.
I GOT ASKED BY A
TEACHER TO WRITE A STORY,
SHORT STORY, AND I CHOSE TO
WRITE A SHORT STORY ABOUT
SHERLOCK HOMES MEETING CAPTAIN
NEEMO AND THEY TEAMED UP TO
FIGHT PROFESSOR MORIARTI.

A caption appears on screen. It reads "Michael Chabon. Summerland."

Michael continues AND I
HAD SUCH FUN WRITING IT AND I
REALLY TRIED TO WRITE IN THE
VOICE OF DOCTOR JOHN WATSON AND
IT WAS KIND OF A PASTICHE AND I LEARNED
A LOT JUST FROM DOING THAT
ABOUT WHAT A STYLE IS AND HOW
YOU -- WHAT KIND OF WORDS YOU
NEEDED TO CHOOSE TO MAKE YOUR
WRITING SOUND LIKE, AT LEAST
TO MY 10 YEAR OLD EAR AND IT
WAS VERY PLEASUREABLE FOR ME
TO DO THAT AND JUST TELL A
STORE IN THAT WAY AND THEN I
GOT A GOOD MARK ON --

Tina says I BET YOU DID.
YOUR TEACHER MUST HAVE -

Tina laughs.

Michael says IF I
CAN DO SOMETHING THAT MUST FUN
AND PRAISED FOR IT, THAT'S
WHAT I WANT TO BE, SO. ..

Tina says NOW THIS BOOK
IS ALSO ABOUT BASEBALL WHICH
OBVIOUSLY YOU LOVE.
WHAT IS IT ABOUT BASEBALL
THAT'S SO MAGNIFICENT?

Michael says WELL, I THINK THAT IN LARGE
PART, IT HAS TO DO WITH HAVING
GROWNUP WITH IT AND HAVING IT,
THAT THE FACT THAT IT WAS
SOMETHING PAST ON TO ME BY MY
FATHER. HE'S A BIG BASEBALL
FAN. HES A BROOKLYN DODGER FAN
GROWING UP AS A KID. HIS
FATHER WAS A BASEBALL FAN.
HIS FATHER WAS AN IMMIGRANT
AND THEN IT WAS A VERY QUICK
PROVING ROOT TO BECOMING VERY
AMERICAN, VERY QUICKLY TO
START LOVING BASEBALL AND I
THINK THERE WAS THIS KIND OF
TRADITION GOING BACK TO THE
FIRST GENERATION OF EUROPEAN
IMMIGRANTS THAT BASEBALL WAS
SOMETHING THAT YOU NEEDED TO
LOVE, BECAUSE THAT WAS THE WAY
YOU BECAME AMERICAN AND SO
THAT TRADITION IS STILL VERY
STRONG, GROWING UP AND, I
THINK THAT HAS A LOT TO DO
WITH IT.

Old footage shows a professional baseball game a kids playing baseball in the street.

Michael continues AND SOMETHING INTRINSICALLY
BEAUTIFUL ABOUT THE GAME
ITSELF, THE WAY THAT IT IS
PLAYED ON THIS BIG
GIANT GREEN FIELD AND IT
ALWAYS IN THE MIDDLE OF A CITY
AND SO THERE'S THAT SORT OF, I
DON'T KNOW, THAT LIKE, ELISION FIELD
IDEA TO IT AND THEN THE RULES
THEMSELVES ARE JUST SO
BEAUTIFULY COMPLICATED AND
PERFECT.

Tina says SO IN THE GRADE QUESTION
WHICH I AM SURE YOU ARE ASKED
ALL OF THE TIME, IS IT A
METAPHOR FOR LIFE.

Michael says IS BASEBALL?
EVERYTHING IS.

Tina says- REALLY, THE WHOLE BOOK
AROUND BASEBALL?
SO OBVIOUSLY IT HAS ALL OF THE
THINGS YOU TALKED ABOUT
ALREADY BUT ALSO THE SENSE OF
LOSS AND, YOU KNOW, FAILURE
AND WINNING.

Michael says ABSOLUTELY.
I THINK, AND THEN THAT ASPECT
OF BASEBALL THAT HAS TO DO
WITH FAILURE AND LOSS IS
REALLY ONE OF THE MOST
IMPORTANT ELEMENTS OF BASEBALL
BUT I DON'T NECESSARILY THINK
IT IS METHAPHORICALLY SO MUCH AS
JUST IT REALLY IS LIKE LIFE.
AND I MEAN, WHETHER, BASEBALL
JUST PARTAKES OF THAT QUALITY,
THAT IS SUCH AN IMPORTANT
ASPECT OF LIFE IF GENERAL, I
THINK MORE DEEPLY AND MORE
STRONGLY THAN SOME OTHER
SPORTS.

Tina says AND ON THE SUBJECT OF LOSS,
ETHAN, THE LOVELY, DELIGHTFUL
HERO IN THIS BOOK, IS LOUSY AT
BASEBALL AND FEELS HIMSELF TO
BE A COMPLETE LOSER AND HE
REALLY --

Michael says NO, THEY'RE REALLY NOT THAT
KIND.

Tina says HIS DAD, AND TRIES TO SAY.

Michael says HIS FATHER HAS TO BE NICE
BUT THE OTHER KID TELLS HIM HE
STINKS.

Tina says AND HE DOES.

Michael says YEAH, HE DOES.

Tina continues BUT STILL,
YOU KNOW, WHAT HAPPENS TO HIM
EARLY ON IN THE BOOD THAT
ONE OF THESE CREATURES COMES
ALONG LOOKING FOR A HERO AND
PEGS ETHAN AND SAYS YOU ARE
THE MAN.

Michael says HE'S BEEN SCOUTED.
HE'S BEEN SCOUTED AHEAD OF
TIME BY A HERO SCOUT, NAMED
RING FINGER BROWN WHO HAS THE
CAPACITY, A BASEBALL SCOUT
IDENTIFYING TALENT EVEN IN THE
MOST UNLIKELY PLACES AND THIS
SCOUT CAN SEE A HERO IN
SOMEONE EVEN WHO SEEMS TO BE
THE MOST UNLIKELY KANTED FOR
THAT JOB.

Tina says BUT YOU OBVIOUSLY OR THE
AUTHOR IN THE NOVEL OBVIOUSLY
THINKS HE'S A HERO AND THE
WORD HERO THESE DAYS IS
SUCH A LOADED ONE ESPECIALLY
IN AMERICA.
BUT WHAT DO YOU THINK?
WHAT QUALITYS DOES HE HAVE OR
QUALITIES DO YOU THINK?

Michael says TO ME, A HERO IS SOMEONE
WHO OVERCOMES HIS OR HER OWN
FAILINGS, HIS OR HER OWN
WEAKNESSES AND THE WEAKNESSES,
THE MORE, THE DEEPER THEY ARE,
THE MORE HEROIC THE PERSON
OVERCOMING THEM IS.
SOMEONE THAT OVERCOMES HIS OR
HER OWN COWARDNESS OR HIS OR HER OWN
INHERENTLY DECEPTIVE NATURE OR
UNWILLINGNESS TO REACH OUT AND
CONNECT TO OTHER PEOPLE OR
KIND OF AN EMOTIONAL LACK OF
SOME KIND, PEOPLE
OVERCOME THOSE KINDS OF
PROBLEMS WHICH ARE VERY COMMON
HUMAN PROBLEMS AND IN SPITE OF
THEM, MANAGE TO DO GREAT
THINGS, THOSE PEOPLE ARE
PEOPLE THAT I SEE AS HEROS AND
ETHAN IS A VERY LIMITED KID IN
SOME WAYS JUST AS ALL OF US
ARE LIMITED AND HE'S CARRYING
THIS BURDEN OF HIS MOTHER'S
RECENT DEATH WHICH HE'S NOT
QUITE COME TO TERMS WITH AND
THAT HAS HAMPERED IN MANY
WAYS.
HE'S A LONELY KID WITH A HARD
TIME REACHING OUT TO OTHER
PEOPLE AND THE LOW SELF
OPINION HE'S GOT A LOT OF
BAGGAGE. I DON'T THINK IT IS
THAT INUSUAL FOR A LITTLE KID OF 11
YEARS OLD TO FEEL LIKE HE HAS
THAT MUCH BAGGAGE.
AND I THINK THAT HE IS -- HE
BECOMES A HERO BECAUSE HE
DOES MANAGE TO RISE TO
THE OCCASION, TO OVERCOME HIS
OWN LIMITATIONS IN THAT WAY.

Tina says WELL, I WAS THINKING WHEN I
WAS READING ABOUT HIM HOW
OFTEN AND MAYBE IT IS JUST A
PREREQUISITE FOR CHILDREN, NOT
FOR CHILDREN BUT LITERATURE,
WHERE THE MAIN
CHARACTER IS THE CHILD, THAT,
THEY ALMOST NEED TO BE
MOTHERLESS OR THEY NEED TO BE
PARENTLESS, THE PARENTS CAN'T
BE IN THE PICTURE OR ELSE
THEY WOULDN’T BE ALLOWED TO
DO ALL THESE ADVENTURES AND THINGS,
WOULD THEY?

Michael says THAT'S VERY TRUE. THAT'S
PART OF THE STORY AND IT IS.
IT IS HARD IF YOU HAVE A KID
WHO HAS TWO PRESENT LOVING
PARENTS, IT’S VERY HARD FOR THAT KID
TO GET OUT OF THE HOUSE AND GO
OFF TO AND DO THE THINGS THAT
KIDS DO SOME ADVENTURES SO IT IS
VERY TYPICAL FOR THE CHILDREN
IN SUCH STORIES TO EITHER BE
ORPHANS OR HALF ORPHANS OR RUN
AWAYS OR AS THE CASE OF A BOOK, THEY HAVE BEEN SENT, THE
FIRST ONE OUT TO THE COUNTRY
TO ESCAPE THE LONDON BLITZ.
I MEAN, YOU HAVE TO TAKE
CHILDREN AWAY FROM THE
WATCHFUL EYES EVER THEIR
PARENTS.

Tina says IT STRUCK ME TOO WHEN
READING THE BOOK THAT IN A
WAY ADULTHOOD AND CHILDHOOD ARE
DIFFERENT WORLDS, THEY OFTEN
SEEM TO SPEAK IN DIFFERENT
LANGUAGE. ETHAN HAS A GREAT
LINE WHERE SOME ADULT IS
TALKING TO HIM AND HE REALIZED
IT WAS SUPPOSE TO BE A JOKE
AND HE SAYS HE HAD DONE A
SURVEY AND 73 PERCENT OF THE
TIME ADULTS THOUGHT THEY WERE
MAKING JOKES.

He laughs.

He says EXACTLY.

Tina continues THEY WERE ON A DIFFERENT WAVE
LENGTH AND SO I WAS INTERESTED
IN THAT IDEA OF INTERSECTION, ARE THEY
DIFFERENT LANDS, CHILDHOOD AND
ADULTHOOD?

Michael says I THINK THEY ARE, YES.
IT CAN BE VERY, HELPFUL TO
UNDERSTAND THEM AS BEING TWO
NEIGHBORING KINGDOMS AND, IN
FACT, I THINK WHAT HAS
HAPPENED, AT LEAST A DON'T
KNOW WHAT IT IS LIKE IN
CANADA.
BUT IN THE UNITED STATES OVER
THE LAST 20 YEARS OR SO, THE
COUNTRY OF CHILDHOOD HAS BEEN
COMPLETELY INVADED, TAKEN OVER
AND NEXT TO COLONIZED BY THE
COUNTRY OF ADULTHOOD AND SO
THAT ALL OF OUR CHILDHOOD IS
NOW IN ACTIVITY MONITORED BY
ADULTS, POLICED BY ADULTS,
SCHEDULED BY ADULTS, CONDUCTED
BY ADULTS -- AND FOR THEM TO
PLAY AND, YES, I THINK CHIDLHOO
IS A COUNTRY UNDER OCCUPATION AT
THE MOMENT.

Tina says YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT
THE OVERLY PROGRAMMED KIDS.

Michael says THE SCHEDULING…

Tina continues THE PLAYTIME AND THE STUFF
THAT KIDS USED TO, WHEN THEY
WERE ALLOWED TO BE KIDS.

Michael says IT'S PARTLY THE SCHEDULING.
IT'S PARTLY THE FACT THAT WE
JUST DON'T SEND CHILDREN OUT
INTO THE WORLD TO FIND
THEIR OWN
WAY TO PLAY. YES, YOU KNOW,
THAT THERE ARE ALL OF THESE
PLACES LIKE, THE DISCOVERY
ZONE, THE JUNGLE, CHUCKY
CHEESE AND SO ON THAT ARE
THESE ADULT CREATED FUN PLAY
AREAS WHERE CHILDREN CAN BE
MONITORED AND THEY PLAY AND
SEND THEM WITH HELMETS AND
PADS AND, I MEAN, A AM A
PARENT, I AM NOT CONDEMNING, I
ONLY CONDEMN MYSELF IF I'M
CONDEMNING THIS BUT IT IS JUST,
YOU KNOW, DID NOT USED TO THAT
WAY.
IT WAS NOT THAT WAY FOR 150
ODD YEARS AND IT WAS
DANGEROUS THING.
IT WAS EVERY BIT AS DANGEROUS
AS IT IS NOW.
IN SOME WAYS IT WAS MORE
DANGEROUS, THE HORRORS
ARE MUCHE BETTER KNOWN
NOW THAT THEY WERE THE AND
WE CAN’T HELP BE AWARE OF THEM.

Tina says SPIDERMAN II--

Michael says I DON’T KNOW.
EVEN IF I KNEW,
I WOULDN’T BE ABLE TO TELL YOU.

Tina says YOUR LIPS BE SEALED.
BUT YOU HAVE WRITTEN THE SCREEN
PLAYS.

Michael says I AM WORKING ON IT NOW,
YES.

Tina says I KNOW YOU LOVE COMIC BOOKS.
IS THIS JUST A LARK?

Michael says A LARX COMES PRETTY CLOSE.
IT’S REALLY FUN TO BE ABLE TO TAKE
THESE CHARACTERS THAT I GREW
UP WITH THAT I KNOW VERY
INTIMATELY AND USE THEM AS MY
OWN AND WRITE ABOUT THEM AND
MAKE UP STORE ES ABOUT THEM
YOU KNOW, I’VE DONE
A LOT OF SCREEN WRITING IN THE
PAST AND TELEVISION WRITING,
NOTHING I HAVE DONE
HAS NEVER BEEN PRODUCED AND WHETHER OR
NOT IT WAS GOING BE PRODUCED
AND ALWAYS IN DOUBT AND IT HAS
ALWAYS TURNED OUT TO BE NOT
THE CASE.

As he speaks, a clip shows scenes from the movie "Spiderman."

He continues BUT SOMETHING LIKE
THIS, ALREADY A STARTING DATE
SCHEDULED AND A RELEASE DATE
ALREADY ON THE SCHEDULE AND
KNOWING THAT IT IS GOING TO
HAPPEN AND MAYBE I'LL BE ALONG
FOR THE RIDE IS ALSO FUN AND A
CHARGE FOR ME.

Tina says WELL GOOD LUCK
ON THE MOVIE.

Michael says THANK YOU.

Tina says AND CONGRATULATIONS
ON SUMMERLAND, IT’S SUCH
A DELIGHFUL BOOK.

Michael says THANKS, TINA.

The clip ends.

Back in the studio, the book appears briefly. The cover features a yellow car flying over a garden.

Tina says SUMMERLAND BY MICHAEL CHABON, IT
IS PUBLISHED BY HIGH PERIOD.
AND TO TOAST MICHAEL'S LOVE OF
THE GAME, THIS WEEK, WE TAKE
OUR RECOMMENDED READING
FEATURE TO THE BASEBALL FIELD.

(piano music plays)
An animated slate reads "Recommended Reading from The Toronto Blue Jays."

A clip shows baseball players on a training session.

Chris Woodward says I RECOMMEND LORD OF THE RINGS
BY J.R.R TOLKEN.
GREAT BOOK, A BATTLE
BETWEEN GOOD AND EVIL AND IF
YOU LIKE FANTASY, I HIGHLY
RECOMMEND IT.
IT'S A GREAT BOOK.
EVEN IF YOU DON'T LIKE FANTASY,
IT'S A GREAT BOOK.

Roy Halladay says I RECOMMEND PILLARS OF THE
EARTH BY KEN FOLLETT. JUST A GREAT BOOK
REALLY, IN-DEPNTH, A LOT OF
DIFFERENT CHARACTERS AND ALL
INTERTWINED.
YOU KNOW, JUST A FUN BOOK FOR
ME TO READ.

Patt Tabler says I RECOMMEND WHEN PRIDE STILL
MATTERED, THE LIFE OF VINCE LOMBARDI, BY DAVID MARANISS.
I THINK IT WAS AN OUTSTANDING
BOOK AND TALKED ABOUT THE
LIFES AND TIMES OF VINCE LOMBARDI, WHO
WAS MY IDOL GROWING UP, NOT
JUST THE DAYS WITH THE GREEN
BAY PACKERS BUT HOW HE GOT
INTO COACHING AND SOME OF THE
GREAT THINGS HE DID.

Josh Phelps says I WOULD HAVE TO RECOMMEND THE
ROAD TO PERDITION. I CAN`T REMEMBER
THE AUTHOR RIGHT NOW.
IT'S A GREAT BOOK.
I CAN SEE WHY IT WOULD MAKE A
VERY GOOD MOVIE AND TOM HANKS
WOULD PLAY A GREAT ROLE AND IT
IS JUST A PAGE TURNER AND GOOD
STORY, IT TAKES YOU FROM FRONT
TO BACK AND YOU CAN'T PUT IT
DOWN.

Jerry Howarth says AND MY FAVORITE BOOK IS JAMES
PATTERSON CAT AND MOUSE,
IT'S A REAL PAGE
TURNER, A LOST FUN. THE
CHAPTERS ARE ONLY ABOUT A PAGE
AND A HALF LONG.
THAT MAKES IT INTEREST FOR A
SLOW READER LIKE ME AND I CAN READ
THAT BOOK QUICKLY.

At the studio, Tina says AND I AM AFRAID IT IS GAME
OVER FOR IMPRINT TONIGHT.
THANKS FOR SITTING IN THE
STANDS.
SO WHERE DO YOU WEIGHT IN ON
THE GREAT DEBATE BETWEEN
FICTION AND NONFICTION?
DROP US A LINE AND LET US KNOW.
OUR ADDRESS IS COMING RIGHT
UP. I AM TINA SREBOTNJAK,
GOOD NIGHT.

Theme music plays as the end credits roll.

Special thanks International Festival of Authors. Nicholas Hoare. Skydome.

Imprint. C/O TVOntario. P.O. Box 200. Station Q, Toronto, Ontario. M4T 2T1.

E-mail: imprint@tvo.org.

Website: www.tvo.org

A production of TVOntario. Copyright 2002,The Ontario Educational Communications Authority.

Watch: Imprint season 14 episode 13