CBC Digital Archives

Paul Quarrington on reclusion and writing 'Whale Music'

Since its debut in 2002, CBC Radio's Canada Reads has quickly become a popular and influential show, attracting huge audiences and driving up book sales. Each year, CBC convenes a panel of prominent Canadians to each pick a work of Canadian fiction and argue why their choice should be the book that all of Canada reads. The CBC Digital Archives brings you a collection of the animated and entertaining final debates, winner "reveals" and interviews with the winning authors of Canada Reads.

In the novel Whale Music, Quarrington writes about a former rock star who sequesters himself at his seaside mansion composing a symphony for whales. The main character is modeled after famous recluse Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys, who Quarrington admits he can relate to. "You always hear these stories, Brian Wilson for a while was kind of holed up in his bedroom and no one knew what he was doing ... and they said the man is totally whacked out," he explains in this 1990 clip from Midday. "I bet I can construct a set of circumstances where scurrying under the blankies and hiding your head for a year is the most sane and the most rational response to what's going on." Instead of hiding away, Quarrington authored a tale that won a Governor General's Literary Award, and was the basis for a feature film.

• Paul Quarrington was born July 22, 1953 in Toronto and spent his teen years in the suburb of Don Mills. He attended the University of Toronto from 1970 to 1972.

• As mentioned in this clip, at the time of the interview Quarrington was writer-in-residence for the Orillia Public Library.

• Quarrington is an avid sportsman and has used sports as the backdrop for some of his novels. Home Game is about baseball while King Leary and Logan in Overtime are about hockey.

• Quarrington's other literary honours include the Stephen Leacock Award for humour in 1987 for King Leary and Giller Prize nominations for Galveston (2004) and The Ravine (2008). He also won Canada Reads with King Leary in 2008. His work for the screen has also garnered awards. He received a 1991 Genie award for best screenplay (with Eugene Lipinski) for Perfectly Normal. He has also won two CFTPA (Canadian Film & Television Production Association) awards as a story editor.

• Paul Quarrington died of lung cancer in January 2010 at the age of 56.

Medium: Television
Program: Midday
Broadcast Date: April 19, 1990
Guest(s): Paul Quarrington
Host: Ralph Benmergui, Valerie Pringle
Duration: 6:12

Last updated: March 5, 2012

Page consulted on August 21, 2012

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