As accessible and wryly funny as his writing, Grant Lawrence visited the Vancouver Book Club (a Vancouver is Awesome initiative) and talked about his experiences living, writing and touring his first book, Adventures in Solitude. (Plus, there was free wine so that was great.)
Adventures in Solitude is the account of how Grant Lawrence grew to love the wonders and dangers of a little place called Desolation Sound, and it is largely a tale of his own self discovery. The Sound is available only with a boat and an iron will; it is a glorious paradise in the summer and so dangerously stormy and secluded in the winter as to drive people batshit crazy (a.k.a. “going bush”). The collection of stories and ruminations in Adventures in Solitude are funny, poignant, informative, deeply personal, violent and strange—most often they are a combination of two, three or all of these. The characters, from Russell the yuppie lawyer turned warmhearted hermit stoner to bizarro-land Santa Claus Bernard the German to the morose Captain Vancouver to Lawrence and his family and friends, each go through captivating journeys that highlight Lawrence’s talents as a storyteller.
When he visited Vancouver is Awesome, Discorder was there and got to know a little bit about the inspiration and development of his Adventures. We discussed family relationships, the place of “truth” in writing, Canadian literature and the public lashing of Captain Vancouver after his return from his “discovery” of what Grant describes as “the bipolar central character” of the book. Having been a rock star, a radio host and now successful a author, it’s a surprise to learn that his ultimate dream job is yet to be had—late night talk show host a lá Johnny Carson.
Lawrence is a paragon of Canadian credibility for a multitude of reasons, one of which is his position as “host with the most” of the CBC Radio 3 Podcast. One of the features of this institution is the “90-second egg,” where Grant puts rapid fire questions to his guests, leaving no room for thought or lies. I put a version of this tradition to Grant about Adventures in Solitude, as well as his adventures in music and radio.
Grant Lawrence, CBC radio host/musician/author.
West Vancouver, BC, Canada.
Best band name from CBC3 podcast:
The Apostle of Hustle
Worst band name:
Best tour moment so far:
Book tour or rock tour? Book tour: Boyd Devereaux, Stanley Cup Champion with the Detroit Red Wings, came to the book launch in Toronto! Rock tour: Flying in to Japan in 2000 and finding out our first show in Tokyo was sold-out.
Worst tour moment:
Book tour: Doing the Vancouver Is Awesome book club discussion with a fully formed chocolate chip stuck to my lower lip, everyone thinking it was untreated, month-old herpes. [Authors note: We thought he had a cut! We were being polite! Grant’s stories often center on injury or potential injury and he did in fact cut himself at the reading.] Rock tour: getting violent food poisoning in England, hallucinating that the Queen Mother was shitting on my chest, missing two gigs, eventually ending up in a Welsh hospital being treated by the female Bill Cosby of Wales.
Tegan or Sara?
Both are very funny/cool, but I’ll say Tegan since I know her better.
Last thing you stole:
Geez… tough one, believe it or not. Probably something from… Starbucks? Their cashiers confuse easily. More like not charging me by mistake rather than stealing. Is there a difference? [Author’s note: Yes.]
What do you believe but cannot prove?
That all the stories in Adventures in Solitude are true, sort of.
If you could only bring one album to Desolation Sound what would it be?
Billy Joel Glass Houses
Favourite “Canadian Definition” [Author’s note: The podcast also sometimes features a segment where a guest gives their favourite term that is noted specifically as Canadian in the dictionary.]
Crokinole! The greatest Canadian board game of all time!
If you could have one superhero power what would it be?
To be invisible.
What’s your worst fear?
First band you saw live:
What is your best quality?
Baking chocolate chip cookies / gasoline. [Author’s note: I purposefully did not clarify this response as it is very entertaining to imagine Grant really loving the smell of those items combined.]
What’s the most memorable record shop you’ve visited in Canada:
Fred’s Record Shop, St. John’s Newfoundland.
Who needs a slap about the face?
Rob Ford, Mayor of Toronto.
What is Canada?
A massive small town.
The Vancouver Book Club was generously hosted by the fun and friendly Sitka Books and Art (now Ardea Books and Art) on West 4th Avenue. After you read the rest of our Jancember edition, check out an excerpt of Adventures in Solitude in the Vancouver is Awesome print edition by flipping this whole thing over.