Read All Over – Curtis Grahauer


Read All Over celebrates the bookworm in all of us, showcasing readers in Vancouver and the books they love most.

Curtis Grahauer is a Vancouver-based artist, filmmaker, and karaoke master. He’s the director behind Steel Viper Force: Fiero’s Redemption, a stone-cold hilarious, high-octane homage to direct-to-video action movies of the 80s and 90s, showcasing some of Vancouver’s most promising talent in film, comedy and music. When he’s not directing or working on his art projects, Curtis is available for duets at any of Weekend Leisure’s Karaoke nights, which he hosts, with gusto.

What’s on your nightstand right now? Are you enjoying it?

I go through phases, but I usually have a short attention span for novels so I jump back and forth between 2-5 books at any time. I’ve been reading World War Z on and off for the past 6 months. It’s kind of just a bunch of short stories, so it’s perfect for my reading habits.

Yippee Ki-Yay Moviegoer has also been on my shelf for a while. It’s a collection of online reviews of action movies. I picked it up after reading the author’s previous book, Seagalogy. YK-YM has been hit and miss, but Seagalogy is amazing: the author goes through each of Steven Seagal’s films in chronological order – an awesome piece of film literature, giving each film a fair analysis. It even has an introduction by David Gordon Green. Apparently he’s a huge Seagal fan.

Is there a genre you prefer? Why?

Old school Science Fiction is my go-to favourite (i.e., John Wyndham, Theodore Sturgeon, Olaf Stapledon, etc., from the 1930s to the 1960s). I am not sure why I gravitate towards this, other than having grown up as a male in the 80s & 90s with Star Wars, the Alien movies and seeing Terminator 2 in the theatre. Old school Sci-Fi is a bit more cerebral, less fantastic, classy, and they almost always have cool covers. I have a big collection of all of the John Wyndham Penguins (except for The Kraken Wakes) from 1970 with cover illustrations by Harry Willock – super classy editions and I’ve actually read all of them.

Who or what is your favourite Vancouver author or story set in Vancouver?

William Gibson was a favourite of mine from my late teens, yet I’m ashamed to say that I haven’t read any of his books from the last 20 years. I’ve heard good things about Pattern Recognition though, and it’s on my mental checklist every time I go to Pulp Fiction. Actually, while working on a recent project, I was interviewing some people who used to be in a band with him back in the late 70s, called UJ3RK5, and I got excited when his name came up. I’m going to have to try setting up an interview with him and keep my inner 19-year-old Sci-Fi geek in check.

Do you read newspapers and if you do, which ones? Online or print, and why?

Does the Onion AV Club count? I waste so much time on there, from their features, inventories and interviews on film, television, music and books to extensive TV episode reviews (a new guilty pleasure of mine), and a hilarious entertainment newswire. Nathan Rabin’s My Year of Flops series is impressive and now exists as a book with book-only extras. I keep meaning to leave it on my toilet as house-guest bathroom reading.

What books have influenced your life the most?

I can’t remember specific titles but my sister lent me a few books on veganism after I had already converted. There’s no way I would ever go back, unless it was a hunting-wild-game-in-a-civilization-has-collapsed- apocalypse-is-coming scenario. Jonathan Safran Foer’s Eating Animals is definitely preaching to the converted, but reading it reminded me that veganism stems from an empathetic and well-considered place and not just from a bunch of crazed fanatics. PETA, while I respect their cause and beliefs, can give vegans a bad reputation sometimes.

What is the most cherished item in your library?

The most cherished item in my modest-sized library is the Pelican edition of Olaf Stapledon’s Last and First Men. It was the only book of fiction to have been released under the Pelican Books imprint which was intended as an educational series. Last and First Men is a ‘future history’ novel – one of my favourite micro-genres, which presents possible-world scenarios in an expository format. It’s being held together with packing tape. Total geek.

What’s next on your list?

I’m in Dawson City for the month of November, so I came prepared with a few books. As She Climbed Across The Table by Jonathan Lethem. I bought it ‘cause he also wrote a Deep Focus Series book on John Carpenter’s They Live, which is one of the best guilty pleasure movies around. And the premise sounds cool – a love triangle between a physicist, an anthropologist and an artificial black hole. I also carted along Herman Melville’s Pierre or, The Ambiguities – the book he wrote while waiting for Moby Dick to be published. It has incest in it.  I also have Flatland, by Edwin A. Abbott – I bought this for $2 at the Museum of Jurassic Technology in LA. It’s a short little book that’s like Math for Dummies from 1884. It’ll be a good one to read one night while stoned.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

I don’t have a specific answer for that, but I find any writer, whatever she writes, whether books, articles, scripts, who can procrastinate but still be productive, to be inspiring. I love reading and hearing interviews with accomplished writers describing their process and how distractions factor into it. I am easily distracted, which leads me to think that I’m not being as productive as I could be. It’s a dangerous thought path, with lots of self-loathing, which involves getting stoned, not caring, realizing I’m being a baby and then getting down to work. There’s my process!

Are you a hoarder or an easy lender with books?

I am a cautious lender: I used to hoard, but now I’m selective with what I buy so I can only lend out a book to someone I know really well. I lend books to my Dad all the time. I know where he lives.

Your life story is published tomorrow, the title is?

The title would have to contain an overuse of punctuation and at least half a dozen subtitles that would be on the cover which would actually be the first page of the book which would consist of many different to-do lists, half finished doodles, old rejected proposals with self-deprecating annotations, an appendix filled with a few short stories and movie treatments with lots of run on sentences, and a DVD-ROM affixed to the back cover.

Or it could just be a straight up bio called, Curtis Grahauer: A Life. I used to work at the Vancouver Public Library and always found the 920’s (the call number for biographies) both fascinating and crushingly banal. That title would fit perfectly.

Check out some of Curtis’s projects!