AS A FORMER BOOK PUBLICIST, I AM WELL TRAINED IN PRETENDING TO HAVE READ MANY BOOKS
Our Type Reader for March is Evan Munday
Last year, he was posing as festival director for The Word On The Street Toronto; just weeks ago he began working with Type to oversee some of the events and web stuff our store does. And in his spare time, he writes the mildly amusing Dead Kid Detective Agency series and co-hosts the Archie-themed podcast, Radio Free Riverdale: it’s Type’s new community manager, Evan Munday. Stop him in the streets and tell him what sort of events Type should be doing!
EVAN ANSWERS THE TYPE QUESTIONNAIRE
What is the first book you remember loving?
The picture book Slugs by David Greenberg, because I was a gross child interested in gross things. Another childhood favourite was The Five Chinese Brothers by Claire Huchet Bishop and Kurt Wiese. Published in 1938, it was a classic in ethnic stereotyping and cultural appropriation, but I like to think I was into for other reasons: that the brothers had magical powers and such.
What is your favourite virtue in a book?
My favourite thing is when a book impels me to read another book. Perhaps it’s close-minded to be so interested about a sort of closed loop of literature, but I love when books can serve like the liner notes of an album. Just as I wanted to see who the band thanked so I could then seek out those other bands, I love finding references (or even topics) within books that help me develop a new shortlist for reading.
What do you appreciate most in a book character?
I very much like book characters who are decisive, as I am anything but.
What character (real or fictional) do you dislike the most?
I could go with a classic like Hitler, but he’s long dead. I find that current U.S. president loathsome, and I say that as a dual citizen. (Don’t normalize him, people! He was reading a teleprompter to seem human.) As far as fictional characters, go, I’ve always been very not into Prince Hamlet (see above). And I’m not going to make many friends, but I always disliked that snivelling creep Logan Echolls on Veronica Mars (though every other fan seems to love him). Come on, people. He wears boxer shorts and a puka-shell necklace. He is Red Flag City.
If you were to write a non-fiction book about anything, what would it be about?
There is a running joke (that is not really a joke) with the publisher of my books for young readers that I should write a critical appraisal of dance films – the Step Up franchise, in particular. We could call it Of Moose and Men. Maybe one day I’ll attempt this. Dance films are amazing and – in my mind – right up there with kung fu and animated films as the closest thing to pure cinema, but there have been (perhaps unsurprisingly) very few books about them.
Your favourite prose authors?
Junot Diaz, Michael Chabon, Sarah Vowell, Roxane Gay, Ray Bradbury, Suzette Mayr, André Alexis, Stephen Crane, Donald Antrim, and probably about a hundred other people I’m forgetting.
Your favourite poets?
Despite having worked on, marketed, and publicized poetry for much of my adult life, I’m afraid I don’t read a ton of poetry. That said, I do very much like Vivek Shraya, Kevin Connolly, Aisha Sasha John, Karen Solie, Susan Holbrook, Jordan Scott, Lisa Robertson, Sina Queyras.
Has a design or art book ever had an impact on your life, and if so, what was the impact?
As a kid who always wanted to draw comic books, I thought How To Draw Comics the Marvel Way (by Stan Lee and John Buscema) was the best book about drawing comics ever. I followed the advice in that book like it was my own personal Bible. I still believe it’s one of the better practical guides to making comics, even if your own personal tastes diverge significantly from the superhero fare of Marvel.
Do you read on public transportation?
Almost exclusively. Though I also read in bed, and that, tragically, cannot be compared to any form of public transit.
What qualities do you want in a book you’re reading while traveling?
Ideally, it will be paperback, so it doesn’t weigh down my luggage, and doesn’t feature any sort of prominent travel disasters. Other than that, I’m not overly picky.
What book have you never read but have always meant to? Do you think you will ever read it?
Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë. I mean, I’ve listened to the Kate Bush song countless times and even read R. Sikoryak’s Tales from the Crypt version of the book, but never the genuine article. And it seems like something I’d really like. Generally, I am beyond curious about artists who only create one book, film, album (just like Emily Brontë did). Maybe this will be the year I think of Heathcliff as something other than a cat.
What book do you pretend to have read, but in fact have not?
I have never read Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple, but as a bookseller, I hand-sold it like nobody’s business. I talked about how funny it was, how Semple was a writer for Arrested Development and the book employed a similar satire of privilege. But if you pressed me on details, I think my expertise on this book would fall apart. As a former book publicist, I am well trained in pretending I’ve read many books of which I have not even cracked the spine.
If you could force a single celebrity to read a specific book in it’s entirety, who would you chose, and what book would you make them read?
I would tie Casey Affleck down to a chair and force him to read both Tolstoy’s short story ‘The Kreutzer Sonata’ and We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche. To be honest, I feel like many male celebrities (and authors … and creative writing professors) could benefit from a thorough reading of both works, but I chose Mr. Affleck because we’re all still recovering from our acute and collective case of Oscar fever. They’re both short reads, they both hold an immense promise of change – especially among the male persuasion.
What book(s) are you reading right now?
The Sellout by Paul Beaty, Closer by Sarah Barmak, an advance reading copy of Fugue States by Pasha Malla, and the new Doom Patrol comic series by Gerard Way and Nick Derington.
photography by Paul Dotey