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


Vancouver native Alex Leslie’s collection of short stories People Who Disappear will be published by Freehand Books in April and her chapbook of microfictions 20 Objects For The New World was published by Nomado in 2011. She teaches for Megaphone Magazine’s community writing program, which runs workshops in living facilities and drop-in centres in the Downtown Eastside and The West End. She is not twee.You can catch Alex reading at Play Cthonics with bill bissett on Jan. 18.

Lucy the dog is co-writer of Alex Leslie’s short fictions

Who is your favourite Vancouver/Lower Mainland writer?

Naming favourites stresses me out because it implicitly makes everybody else a non-favourite, which leads to my fear of ranking people. Also I like so many different kinds of writing that I can’t answer the question honestly. And also my tastes change quickly, which means I’m either eclectic or fickle. A few local writers whose work I loved this year: Richard Van Camp. This video of one of his poems/stories blows me away:

Richard Van Camp, The Uranium Leaking from Port Radium and Ray Rock Mines is Killing Us

I also loved Garry Thomas Morse‘s poetry collection (or long poem, however you read it) Discovery Passages. And Meredith Quartermain’s collection of microfictions Recipes From The Red Planet, which is playful and ingenious and strange.

Do you have a favourite story set in Vancouver?

I love Eden Robinson’s story Terminal Avenue. One of my favourite short stories, period. Downtown Eastside literature now has a certain cultural capital so I’ve become wary of that niche/trend, but Terminal Avenue is great.

Where is your favourite place to crack open a book in Vancouver?

I read a lot on public transit, while listening to my iPod. I WALK AMONG YOU.

What’s next on your reading list?

Camille Roy’s Sherwood Forest (futurepoem press) just arrived on my doorstep. I want to read Laurie Week’s Zipper Mouth put out by the CUNY Feminist Press. I’ve been meaning to read Amber Dawn’s Sub Rosa for a long time. I want to read Roxane Gay’s first book Aiyiti, which just came out. And Bhanu Kapil’s new book Schizophrene which just came out of Nightboat Books.

What writer excites you right now?

We went to the Indigenous Media Art festival at W2 in the fall and I saw an incredible short film by Chris Bose, who’s based in Kelowna (I think). It was a collage of film, text, historical footage. Chaotic but very planned and moving. That defines “writing” very broadly, but it is art/writing that excites me.

What writer would you love to see read their work?

I don’t know. I tend to stumble across interesting things unexpectedly and the people I think will be good turn out to be boring. I now accept that I have horrible luck/judgment. I’d like to see the writer who I haven’t heard of yet. I don’t mean that in a twee/zen way, I swear to god, she said defensively.

Do you read newspapers and if you do, which one(s), online or print, and why?

I look at rabble online pretty regularly. I read various blogs and they link to news stuff regularly. I look through the print version of The Globe and Mail every couple days, but I’m not a devoted newspaper reader. If I’m interested in a news topic I will internet binge on it until I’ve read every f*cking thing out there about it that Google can find. That is basically how I write short stories, incidentally. Ha. Ha.

What magazines/journals can you not live without?

I could live without magazines and journals. Is that a horrible thing to say? But I couldn’t live without books and they’re interrelated economies. Online I like HTMLGIANT, becuase I read about small press American experimental writing I wouldn’t otherwise (although you do have to comb through the tweeness), and Lambda Literary online, which is an incredible resource for reviews of queer books. I also look for book reviews and interviews on The Rumpus sometimes.

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

I don’t know if it’s a mentor-type conversation, but I do appreciate Meredith Quartermain’s work in bringing together female writers in Vancouver through her social organizing and her Rhizomatics group and also through Nomados, the press she runs with her partner Peter Quartermain. Many writers are self-involved and Meredith’s a great example of how to be generous with others.

Alex Leslie’s first book of short stories People Who Disappear will be released this spring from Freehand Books

Photos courtesy of Alex Leslie