Near the University of Toronto, Colin Marshall talks to Alana Wilcox, Editorial Director of Coach House Books and author of the novel A Grammar of Endings. They discuss the past twenty years’ boom in Toronto writing; what factors, including an embarrassing mayor in the nineties, made “mythologizing our own city” possible; why Coach House prints right there on premises, “giving cultural producers access to the means of production”; the technological palimpsest of Coach House’s offices; the origin of their uTOpia series, which envision the Toronto of the future and which began when “you simply didn’t publish about Toronto”; the broadness of the ideas about the city that surprised her, as well as the number of its “civic nerds”; how Coach House pushes for “adventurous” writing, such a recent book on surveillance, a novel about Andy Warhol’s Sleep, and Christian Bök’s Eunoia; their shifting relationship over the years with the printed book; how she got interested in Toronto herself; what she shows students who turn up on field trips; her lack of worries about the future of the printed book, and how she finds readers process information differently depending on the physical medium of the text; their paper equivalent of 180-gram vinyl; how dominant bookselling chains have persisted in Canada, and the effects of that; Coach House’s own books involving the city, like Maggie Helwig’s blind-photographer novel Girls Fall Down and an upcoming study of the Ward, Toronto’s first slum; her first novel, the second novel she put away, and what writing taught her about publishing; Coach House’s “Exploded Views” series, which includes Shawn Micallef‘s book on all-consuming precarity The Trouble with Brunch and David Balzer’s Curationism; shopping by publisher, and how she started doing it herself almost right away, acting as a consumer on her “publishing crushes”; how much of an enemy to consider Amazon; the literary figure from whom Coach House’s bpNichol Lane takes its name; her lack of fascination with “CanLit”; the multiculturalism she doesn’t see in Toronto; and how the city has lately tired her out.
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