2017 FEATURED AUTHOR: Charles Demers, The Dad Dialogues: A Correspondence on Fatherhood (and the Universe)

(This is fourth of Galiano Island Books features on authors and artists attending the 2017 Galiano Literary Festival February 17-19th on Galiano Island. Tix still available (250) 539-3340 or leetrentadue@gmail.com.)

Charlie Demers caught my attention while documenting the dark corners of existence in his hilariously insightful book The Horrors: An A to Z of Funny Thoughts on Awful Things (2015). Writing books and essays as well as performance and stand-up comedy have made Charles “Canada-famous” including appearances on CBC’s funny show The Debaters. He’s grown a huge online following as well on his Twitter account and personal blog Chuck of the Sea. We’re very excited to welcome him back to Galiano’s #LitFest 2017.


“The comic or ironic sensibility is one of the only things that can really allow you to face that kind of absurd and chaotic terror in the face,” he says. “I’ve used comedy, in my life, alternately to hide from reality, but more often than not, that’s the sound that pain makes when it’s leaving my body.”

Here’s a taste of his hilarious and irreverent standup comedy:

And if you liked that here he is again waxing ridiculous about the ups and downs of giving gifts…

Charlie will be joining us for the 2nd time here at The Galiano Literary Festival this time sharing his new book The Dad Dialogues: A Correspondence on Fatherhood (and the Universe) co-authored with the legendarily prolific Canadian poet and Friend of the Festival George Bowering. The Dad Dialogues was recently featured as an Editors Pick by Maclean’s magazine in Canada.

978-1-55152-662-1-DadDialogues“Charles Demers is a thirtysomething comedian and the author of three books; George Bowering is eighty, Canada’s first poet laureate, and the author of more than eighty books. Charlie and George are also the best of friends. And the fathers of daughters.

In this unique book of correspondence, these two men from different generations write to each other about the burdens, anxieties, and singular joys of parenthood. The letters begin as Charlie and his wife discover they will become parents; he expresses his hopes and fears of impending fatherhood, compounded by his OCD and his own father’s illness, while George recalls his experiences raising a daughter in the 1970s and his anxieties about bringing a child into a troubled world.”

Charlie recently caught up w/ me to answer a few questions…

KK – Welcome back to Galiano Island. I’ve heard Galiano Island is a special place for you? 

CD – Galiano is a very, very special place for me; I’ve been visiting regularly since I was about 12 or 13. I proposed to my wife, Cara, on Galiano, and we also had our very quiet, romantic, December honeymoon on Galiano.

Since there’s not a lot of swimming to do in December, we ended up spending a fairly big chunk of that honeymoon time in what quickly became one of our favourite bookstores on earth.So it’s always an enormous treat to get to be back with Lee and Jim and everyone at the store and the festival.

KK – George Bowering is an incredible dude and dear friend of the Festival. It must have been interesting working with him. How did it go? Did you guys spend much time together? What did you learn? Did you teach the old dog any new tricks? 🙂
CD – George and I have been good friends for several years; our first contact was when I interviewed him, at age 21, for the SFU student newspaper on the subject of his retirement from the English department there, but we didn’t get to be pals until years later when we started bowling together (really). We wrote the book to each other over email, so there wasn’t a ton of time in each other’s physical presence, but we did take up a lot of space in each other’s minds for about a year and a half.
George has taught me a lot about what I consider to be some of the most important things about being a writer, stuff that I try, and sometimes fail, to do: be smart without being baroque or obscure, be playful and funny without being frivolous. I’m not sure what, if anything, I taught him, but I do know that he is a big, big fan of my work as an animated slug on what is supposed to be a show for children, Beat Bugs, but of which he is a devoted, 81-year-old fan.
KK – Twitter seems to be a unique and special place for a lot of writers and comedians who are using it to connect directly with audiences. Do you love it? It’s got a little bit of a bad rep lately because Trump and his trolls. Does that part effect you much?

CD – If I’m being completely honest, these days my sympathies are increasingly in line with the people saying that social media is a force for the diabolical. I have had a lot of fun on Twitter over the years, and I think that it can be a really good, creative space for writers; I’m proud of a lot of what I’ve put up on there.


But one deadly thing about it, beyond the anxiety of hopping into a verbal mosh pit consisting of the entire English-speaking world at once, is that it can sometimes satiate the need to be heard that could otherwise act as an impetus for writing something more substantial.

Every tweet that I write is read by more people than have bought all my books, combined. That sort of thing can mess with your perspective, and sense of creative priorities.

KK – Tell me about your new book and being a pro writer in 2017. Is the writer life what you expected it to be? What’s the coming year hold for you in terms of how you’ll be spending your time?

CD – The Dad Dialogues is something I’m really proud of — I approached it very differently than any other piece of writing that I’ve attempted. Rather than trying to hone it down to anything straining for “perfection,” I really saw the thing more as an artifact, or archive — a real-time capture of my daughter’s first year of life, my first year as a father, my own father’s hardest year of fighting cancer, my friendship with George, my fears and hopes for the political world.

Once something was written down, even if things changed afterwards, or I was proven wrong, I tried to leave it as it was, to keep it as an imperfect record. I think the book is lively, and animated by the strong mutual affection between George and I, and for our families, and for the world of ideas.

At the risk of betraying my deeply pessimistic and catastrophic persona, the pro-writer life is for the most part a terrific adventure, existential angst and all. This coming year I am hoping to get to work on a new book of non-fiction, and I have several scripts that I’m working on, a couple with collaborators, and I’m excited to get to those.

(Photos & videos are the copyright of their creators and sourced via Google Images & YouTube.)

Many heartfelt thx to Charlie for participating in this interview and taking the questions and running with them. Your a star! *hat tip*

Pls plan to join us and buy your #LitFest tickets today! (250) 539-3340 orleetrentadue@gmail.com.

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