I experienced the bliss of reading in the family car during trips in our GMC Suburban, plenty of room providing we kept our knees tight to our chests and staggered our breathing.
—Struan Sinclair, author of "Automatic World"
In the spirit of Canada Reads
, Canada's biggest battle of the books, CBC Manitoba is proud to present Manitoba Reads, in partnership with McNally Robinson Booksellers
and the Winnipeg International Writers Festival
, author of Automatic World
is one of the four finalists for Manitoba Reads. SCENE asked Sinclair
to tell us how he became a writer:
Like many others I came to writing through reading. Josef Skvorecky
, in his essay The Freedom to Read
, talks about "the old intense delight that I used to feel as a boy under the blanket, that supreme bliss of reading for pleasure, and for no other reason in the world". I experienced the bliss of reading in the family car during trips in our GMC Suburban, plenty of room providing we kept our knees tight to our chests and staggered our breathing.
I fed my insomnia reading under blankets to the weird intermittent orangeade glow of ColecoVision Baseball. The year I discovered The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
I modified my handlebars so I could read on the ride to school.
"Automatic World" by Struan Sinclair (Doubleday)
I was chronically ill as a child. When I was nine or 10 and stuck in hospital I had my first proper writerly thought: I imagined that the world had a second skin. On the other side lay the future in the form of irregular tiles. I had to duck through the membrane to find my tiles and rearrange them.
I'm sure I was influenced in this idea by something I'd read, though I can't now recall what. But perhaps I had begun to do a writer's first (and last) work; counterfeiting time, and in that way enduring.
Later that year my class was asked to write about a day in the life of a dime. The lives of these dimes tended to be difficult, ugly and short: they were imprisoned in piggybanks, drowned in washes, entombed in wet cement.
My dime featured in a bleak and violent tale of religious and cultural persecution. The principal came to my house on a Monday night to speak to my parents. I had an "urgent imagination." Urgent.
I put the word and the principal into my next draft. Mine was the only one left out of the fourth-grade magazine. They couldn't handle my dime. I didn't mind. The censorship confirmed my story's urgency and its worth.
Emerging writers must believe that they are dangerous. It is the engine they feed themselves.
In 2009, a version of this story found its way into Automatic World
. The Winnipeg International Writer's Festival THIN AIR 2012 festival kicks off with the finals for Manitoba Reads. Join CBC host Ismaila Alfa at the Centre Cultural Franco-Manitobain Friday September 21, at 8:00 p.m. for a fun face-off between advocates Jonathan Ball, Rosanna Deerchild, Mike Green, and Alix Sobler. The winning title will be announced on the Weekend Morning Show on Sunday, September 23.