10 for the Top 10: Dave Bidini

The panelists are in the process of deciding which book they want to bring into the ring for the February debates. We'll reveal who they are — and the titles they choose — on November 23 on CBC Radio's Q and right here on CBC Books.

In the meantime, we want to introduce you to the authors you voted onto the Canada Reads: True Stories Top 10 list.

Today, the spotlight is on Dave Bidini, author of On a Cold Road.


Dave Bidini played rhythm guitar in the iconic Canadian rock band the Rheostatics before turning to writing. On a Cold Road, published in 1998, was his first book; he published his tenth, Writing Gordon Lightfoot, this past October. Aside from music and writing, Bidini is passionate about sports — particularly hockey — and a number of his books, including The Best Game You Can Name, Tropic of Hockey and Baseballissimo are about the games he loves. He also wrote and hosted Hockey Nomad, a Gemini Award-winning documentary based on Tropic of Hockey. His journalism has appeared in numerous publications, including the New York Times, the Village Voice and the Globe and Mail. And he still rocks out, as a member of BidiniBand.

Q: In three lines or less, describe your book to Canada.

DB: Other than it being total unbridled genius and the feel-good book of its generation, On a Cold Road is about the Rheostatics' 1994 tour of hockey rinks opening for The Tragically Hip. woven throughout is a chorus of voices from musicians who carved that road in the '60s and '70s. it is funny and terrifying and sad. Jack Kerouac in a parka.

Q What inspired your book?

DB: The need for speed. The lust for crust. The drive for five. Oh, i dunno: probably the literary fortune that awaits most authors.

Q: What do you most enjoy about writing non-fiction? What are the biggest challenges?

DB: It takes an awful lot of energy to lie, and is hardly worth it, so non-fiction is really quite stressless. Although remembering stuff can be a nuisance.

Q: What makes you fall in love with a non-fiction book?

DB: Usually, its bum.

Q: Describe where you write.

DB: In subways, in kitchens, in basements, in caverns, in duck sheds, on benches, in trenches, in clenches. Truthfully, I've learned to write anywhere.

Q: What are your favourite places to read, at home or out in the world?

DB: Definitely in the world. It's much quieter there.

Q: Is there a non-fiction book that had a great influence on your writing?

DB: Studs Terkel's The Good War and Scott Young's War on Ice are two.

Q: What did you want to be growing up? Why?

DB: A writer. Or a sports announcer. Or Rick Derringer. Or the Fonz. But mostly, a writer.

Q: What's your guilty pleasure when you take a break from writing?

DB: Sleep. Hours of it. Hours and hours. Oh, and heroin.

Q: If you could pick any Canadian personality to defend your book, who would it be and why?

DB: Jay Baruchel. He's smart. And funny. and smart. Did I mention he was funny?

Do you agree with Dave that Jay Baruchel is the ideal Canadian personality to defend his book? Enter our "perfect pairings" contest for a chance to win a complete set of the Canada Reads: True Stories Top 10!

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