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About the Author

Sky Gilbert

Sky Gilbert is a writer, director, and drag queen extraordinaire. He was co-founder and artistic director of Buddies in Bad Times Theatre (North Americaâ??s largest gay and lesbian theatre) for 18 years. His hit plays include The Dressing Gown, Drag Queens on Trial, Play Murder, The Emotionalists, and the Dora Mavor Moore Award-winning The Whoreâ??s Revenge. His first three novels: Guilty (1998), St. Stephenâ??s, (1999) and I Am Kasper Klotz (2001) were critically acclaimed. ECW Press published Skyâ??s first collection of poetry, Digressions of a Naked Party Girl, in 1998, and his theatre memoir, Ejaculations from the Charm Factory, in 2000. His second book of collected poems, Temptations for a Juvenile Delinquent, was published by ECW in 2003. He was recently the recipient of the Margo Bindhardt Award (from the Toronto Arts Foundation), the Silver Ticket Award (from the Toronto Alliance for the Performing Arts), and the ReLit Award (for his fourth novel, An English Gentleman), and also recently received a PhD from the University of Toronto. By day, Sky holds a University Research Chair in Drama and Creative Writing at the University of Guelph.

Books by this Author
A Nice Place to Visit

A Nice Place to Visit

The Story of Two American Filmmakers
edition:Paperback
also available: eBook
tagged : canadian
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Brother Dumb

Brother Dumb

edition:Paperback
also available: eBook
tagged :
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Come Back

Come Back

A Novel
edition:Paperback
also available: eBook
tagged : gay
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Drag Queens on Trial

Drag Queens on Trial

A Courtroom Melodrama
edition:Paperback
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I Have AIDS!

I Have AIDS!

edition:Paperback
also available: eBook
tagged : canadian
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It's All Tru

It's All Tru

edition:eBook
also available: Paperback
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Excerpt

Kurt: Well I suppose I should thank you for . . . being honest with me . . .

Pause.

I suppose. So have you taken PEP?

Travis: I told you, I have the prescription but—

Kurt: No, not PrEP. PEP.

Travis: Oh, you mean the—

Kurt: Yes PEP, the after one.

Travis: Oh that’s right . . . PrEP is before . . .

Kurt: Which would have been much better to take, but since you haven’t, then you should go to emergency and have them give you PEP right away. Has it been more than seventy-?two hours?

Travis: Just.

Kurt: Well that’s what you should do then. Go to emergency tonight.

Travis: Okay, I will.

Kurt: I should say so.

Kurt clears his plate to the counter.

So, are we finished?

Travis: With—

Kurt: With this discussion?

Travis: Yes. I guess so. I just wanted you to know.

Kurt: As long as you take the PEP then we’ll consider the matter over. After all, there’s nothing we can do about it. And then start taking the Truvada. You will start taking the Truvada?

Travis: Of course I will.

Kurt: Good.

Kurt moves to go.

Travis: Where are you going?

Kurt: I’m going to my study.

Travis: Oh.

Pause.

You don’t want any . . . dessert?

Pause.

Kurt: I’m not in the mood right now.

Pause.

Maybe later.

He makes a move to go.

Travis: Kurt.

Kurt: What?

Travis: Are you mad at me?

Kurt: Not exactly. I’m perturbed. But I’ll get over it.

Travis: You will?

Kurt: Of course I will. I love you.

Pause.

Do you want me to go to emergency with you?

Travis: No, I think I can go myself.

Pause.

I love you too, and . . . I’m sorry.

Kurt: Yes, I know you are. See you later.

Kurt leaves the kitchen. Travis starts to clean things up as the lights dim. Music.

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Sad Old Faggot

Sad Old Faggot

A Novel
edition:Paperback
also available: eBook
tagged : gay
More Info
Excerpt

How Should a Faggot Be?

 

I found a worm in my bed.

I was checking because we got this notice about bedbugs in our building. Christ, I don’t even like to think about them crawling all over me.

There’s a painting at the MLT in downtown Toronto — you know the MLT, the Magic Lantern Cinemas? They sometimes show art there and they have a piano and it’s really very, you know, friendly.

I’m sure it won’t last long.

Anyway the painting — it’s more of a drawing really — is of a woman with little bugs crawling all over her. The artist who made it is fucking lousy. I say that because I can tell it’s meant to be artistic . . . pretty . . . whatever. I mean for anyone who has ever had bugs crawling all over them (and I have — there were bedbugs in our apartment once) it’s hard to look on a painting like that as “artistic.”

Anyway I was tearing the sheets off the bed and searching for bedbugs and at the end of the bed in one of the ridges in the corner of the mattress where you usually find bedbugs I found a little worm.

It was writhing in the sunlight.

It was probably dying.

Or who knows — it could have been wriggling around having a gay old time thinking about its happy worm future. Who knows?

Anyway, it freaked me out so much that I just flicked it off the bed and onto the floor. Which was a dumb thing to do because after that I never saw it again. I think it might have been not a worm, but the larvae for some creature. Some creature that could grow into something big and buggy and eat me.

Jesus.

-

So, I’m going to tell the truth about Sky Gilbert. The whole truth and nothing but the truth. I know you’ve heard that before, and you’ve also heard many a doofus question “What is truth?” But when they say shit like that you know you’re getting the wool pulled over your eyes. Look in the toilet bowel. Look at your asshole in a mirror, that’s truth. Everything else is salad dressing.

Sure you can challenge me — what do I mean when I say my truth? And I would say: what I know about myself for sure. I’m going to tell all here, though I’m not going to trash people. I mean there are obviously some people I can’t talk about — mostly because I don’t hate them. That’s the trouble with a book like this. You end up sounding like a crank. (I am a crank, and that’s the truth.) I can’t write about the people I love except to say I love them. So when I get to someone I love I’ll just say “I love them.” Which means I’m not going to talk about them in any detail. Because, truth be told, there are of course things I don’t like about them, even though I love them. But I love them too much to tell you those things.

You just have to accept that. Or at least accept the fact that I’m telling you the truth.

This book isn’t going to be like the one I wrote 16 years ago called Ejaculations from the Charm Factory. That was a “memoir” about my life up to the age of 46. I’m not going to say that the book was a lie. But it was certainly very carefully calculated. My editor Michael Holmes came to me with the idea of a memoir and at first I didn’t want to do it because I figured I’d have to tell the whole truth and alienate a lot of people whom I still loved. But Michael said, “Hey, you can be very strategic about what you write and what you don’t.”

So that’s exactly what I did. That book is not the truth about me. In fact it is the furthest thing from the truth in some ways. I like to say that it’s the facts about me but none of the inner truth. I only said nice things about my friends and I picked very specific people to trash. Only people I really hated at the time. For instance I really let Kyle Rae have it. And the Good Reverend Brent Hawkes. That was very calculated — in the sense that I thought not only that those two people deserved my hate but that it wouldn’t hurt my career to trash them. I wasn’t, for instance, going to trash Tim Jones — so I tried to minimize the conflict we had when he was my general manager at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre — because I knew he was becoming a powerful arts executive. And even though I knew really scandalous gossip about Toronto Star theatre critic Richard Ouzounian, I didn’t want to put that into the book because he was, well, a big deal at that time.

Now I’m not saying that my memoir is a piece of shit. I still think it has some value as a document about growing up artistic in the crazy Queen Street of Toronto in the ’80s. But as a fucking memoir, who cares? When it comes down to it, who gives a shit about me in the grand scheme of things?

-

So what the fuck am I doing here? If my story doesn’t matter then what’s the point of me writing another book about me? Well, the inspiration came from an article by Susan Swan I just read in the Globe and Mail. I’m ashamed to say I’ve never read a book by Susan Swan. I’ve read hardly any books by Canadian authors, period. Sorry about that. I mean I used to like Margaret Atwood and Robertson Davies when I was a teen. But basically, it’s like this. I start in on a Canadian novel and it doesn’t take long before I just get bored and disappointed. I recently really tried to read Lynn Coady. It started out great, then . . . I just lost interest. I don’t mean to trash Lynn Coady especially. She seems a lot better than the rest. (I read nearly half the damn thing.) I mean it really was readable . . . whatever. I can’t remember the title. It had a good title, and the book was funny but . . . I don’t know. I apologize for not being more Canadian.

But I do know who Susan Swan is and she seems to me to be very smart and beautiful (even if she’s old like me). The article was a review of some Swedish writer whom I will probably never read so forget about him. But in the article, Susan Swan talks about the “new novel” and how the new novel is not fiction but biography. And she uses Sheila Heti’s book How Should a Person Be? as an example. The gist of her argument is that the “new” novelists are better because they reveal so much about themselves, their real actual lives. They write fact, not fiction, or at least mix the two together in heavy doses. And you can’t measure a novel by how “imaginative” it is, but by how much it actually reveals about the author’s life.

Okay, so I read that. And I thought, hey, I can do that.

Probably better than fucking Sheila Heti.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got nothing against Sheila Heti. I met her twice. I think she is fucking gorgeous, for sure. If I was straight I would totally be in love with her. Totally. She reminds me of a thin version of Lena Dunham — and honestly, isn’t that what everybody wants to be? She’s obviously very delicate and sensitive and smart as a whip. I met her at Hillar Liitoja’s house — he’s a director friend of mine and she was on the board of his theatre company. Sheila was very polite to me but we didn’t bond until we ended up at a donor’s dinner together for another little theatre company. Then we let loose and gossiped and had so much fun. I was completely charmed by her.

So I’m seriously jealous now because she is the greatest novelist since sliced bread and I’m not.

But really I have nothing against her. It’s not about Sheila Heti being awful, it’s about me being awful for being so small-minded as to be jealous of her.

And the only reason I think I could do this whole “reality novel” thing better than Sheila Heti is because of this: it’s easy to be a reality novelist when you are young and beautiful and brilliant and have your life before you, and the biggest problem you have ever faced is breaking up with Carl Wilson.

Okay, this is the thing. I’ve never even met Carl Wilson, but he published an article of mine once and I’ve talked to him on the phone. And he strikes me as one of the most brilliant and sensitive males on the face of the fucking earth. I would like to marry him (and I don’t want to marry anybody). And he was Sheila Heti’s partner.

I’m sure most straight women would kill to have had Carl Wilson as a lover or husband or even just a one-night stand. I read Carl Wilson’s book about Celine Dion called Let’s Talk About Love and I just fucking adored it. (Okay, so I did like one recent Canadian book.) Now the truth about that book is — and I’m not telling tales out of school because Wilson admits as much — Let’s Talk About Love is all about Sheila Heti. That’s why I love the book so much, because it’s a love letter in the form of an essay. Read between the lines — Wilson keeps digressing and talking about Heti — and the book is up there with Roland Barthes A Lover’s Discourse as far as I’m concerned. It’s a theoretical book that is actually driven by a real love affair.

Wow.

So what I’m saying is that Sheila is young and beautiful and brilliant with her whole life ahead of her and has only had the singular misfortune of being loved too much by a perfect, brilliant man.

So who wouldn’t want to read a reality novel about her charmed fucking life?

And me, I’m an old, crippled faggot. I’ll never run again. I’ll never kneel again — not without help — very humiliating, let me tell you, for an old cocksucker like me. I’m 62 years old and I drink too much and I’ll probably be dead soon. And I’m still a fucking hopeless (and I mean it is hopeless) slut.

The real truth about Sheila Heti is one thing.

But who wants to hear the real truth about me?

 

How Should a Faggot Be?

 

I found a worm in my bed.

I was checking because we got this notice about bedbugs in our building. Christ, I don’t even like to think about them crawling all over me.

There’s a painting at the MLT in downtown Toronto — you know the MLT, the Magic Lantern Cinemas? They sometimes show art there and they have a piano and it’s really very, you know, friendly.

I’m sure it won’t last long.

Anyway the painting — it’s more of a drawing really — is of a woman with little bugs crawling all over her. The artist who made it is fucking lousy. I say that because I can tell it’s meant to be artistic . . . pretty . . . whatever. I mean for anyone who has ever had bugs crawling all over them (and I have — there were bedbugs in our apartment once) it’s hard to look on a painting like that as “artistic.”

Anyway I was tearing the sheets off the bed and searching for bedbugs and at the end of the bed in one of the ridges in the corner of the mattress where you usually find bedbugs I found a little worm.

It was writhing in the sunlight.

It was probably dying.

Or who knows — it could have been wriggling around having a gay old time thinking about its happy worm future. Who knows?

Anyway, it freaked me out so much that I just flicked it off the bed and onto the floor. Which was a dumb thing to do because after that I never saw it again. I think it might have been not a worm, but the larvae for some creature. Some creature that could grow into something big and buggy and eat me.

Jesus.

-

So, I’m going to tell the truth about Sky Gilbert. The whole truth and nothing but the truth. I know you’ve heard that before, and you’ve also heard many a doofus question “What is truth?” But when they say shit like that you know you’re getting the wool pulled over your eyes. Look in the toilet bowel. Look at your asshole in a mirror, that’s truth. Everything else is salad dressing.

Sure you can challenge me — what do I mean when I say my truth? And I would say: what I know about myself for sure. I’m going to tell all here, though I’m not going to trash people. I mean there are obviously some people I can’t talk about — mostly because I don’t hate them. That’s the trouble with a book like this. You end up sounding like a crank. (I am a crank, and that’s the truth.) I can’t write about the people I love except to say I love them. So when I get to someone I love I’ll just say “I love them.” Which means I’m not going to talk about them in any detail. Because, truth be told, there are of course things I don’t like about them, even though I love them. But I love them too much to tell you those things.

You just have to accept that. Or at least accept the fact that I’m telling you the truth.

This book isn’t going to be like the one I wrote 16 years ago called Ejaculations from the Charm Factory. That was a “memoir” about my life up to the age of 46. I’m not going to say that the book was a lie. But it was certainly very carefully calculated. My editor Michael Holmes came to me with the idea of a memoir and at first I didn’t want to do it because I figured I’d have to tell the whole truth and alienate a lot of people whom I still loved. But Michael said, “Hey, you can be very strategic about what you write and what you don’t.”

So that’s exactly what I did. That book is not the truth about me. In fact it is the furthest thing from the truth in some ways. I like to say that it’s the facts about me but none of the inner truth. I only said nice things about my friends and I picked very specific people to trash. Only people I really hated at the time. For instance I really let Kyle Rae have it. And the Good Reverend Brent Hawkes. That was very calculated — in the sense that I thought not only that those two people deserved my hate but that it wouldn’t hurt my career to trash them. I wasn’t, for instance, going to trash Tim Jones — so I tried to minimize the conflict we had when he was my general manager at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre — because I knew he was becoming a powerful arts executive. And even though I knew really scandalous gossip about Toronto Star theatre critic Richard Ouzounian, I didn’t want to put that into the book because he was, well, a big deal at that time.

Now I’m not saying that my memoir is a piece of shit. I still think it has some value as a document about growing up artistic in the crazy Queen Street of Toronto in the ’80s. But as a fucking memoir, who cares? When it comes down to it, who gives a shit about me in the grand scheme of things?

-

So what the fuck am I doing here? If my story doesn’t matter then what’s the point of me writing another book about me? Well, the inspiration came from an article by Susan Swan I just read in the Globe and Mail. I’m ashamed to say I’ve never read a book by Susan Swan. I’ve read hardly any books by Canadian authors, period. Sorry about that. I mean I used to like Margaret Atwood and Robertson Davies when I was a teen. But basically, it’s like this. I start in on a Canadian novel and it doesn’t take long before I just get bored and disappointed. I recently really tried to read Lynn Coady. It started out great, then . . . I just lost interest. I don’t mean to trash Lynn Coady especially. She seems a lot better than the rest. (I read nearly half the damn thing.) I mean it really was readable . . . whatever. I can’t remember the title. It had a good title, and the book was funny but . . . I don’t know. I apologize for not being more Canadian.

But I do know who Susan Swan is and she seems to me to be very smart and beautiful (even if she’s old like me). The article was a review of some Swedish writer whom I will probably never read so forget about him. But in the article, Susan Swan talks about the “new novel” and how the new novel is not fiction but biography. And she uses Sheila Heti’s book How Should a Person Be? as an example. The gist of her argument is that the “new” novelists are better because they reveal so much about themselves, their real actual lives. They write fact, not fiction, or at least mix the two together in heavy doses. And you can’t measure a novel by how “imaginative” it is, but by how much it actually reveals about the author’s life.

Okay, so I read that. And I thought, hey, I can do that.

Probably better than fucking Sheila Heti.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got nothing against Sheila Heti. I met her twice. I think she is fucking gorgeous, for sure. If I was straight I would totally be in love with her. Totally. She reminds me of a thin version of Lena Dunham — and honestly, isn’t that what everybody wants to be? She’s obviously very delicate and sensitive and smart as a whip. I met her at Hillar Liitoja’s house — he’s a director friend of mine and she was on the board of his theatre company. Sheila was very polite to me but we didn’t bond until we ended up at a donor’s dinner together for another little theatre company. Then we let loose and gossiped and had so much fun. I was completely charmed by her.

So I’m seriously jealous now because she is the greatest novelist since sliced bread and I’m not.

But really I have nothing against her. It’s not about Sheila Heti being awful, it’s about me being awful for being so small-minded as to be jealous of her.

And the only reason I think I could do this whole “reality novel” thing better than Sheila Heti is because of this: it’s easy to be a reality novelist when you are young and beautiful and brilliant and have your life before you, and the biggest problem you have ever faced is breaking up with Carl Wilson.

Okay, this is the thing. I’ve never even met Carl Wilson, but he published an article of mine once and I’ve talked to him on the phone. And he strikes me as one of the most brilliant and sensitive males on the face of the fucking earth. I would like to marry him (and I don’t want to marry anybody). And he was Sheila Heti’s partner.

I’m sure most straight women would kill to have had Carl Wilson as a lover or husband or even just a one-night stand. I read Carl Wilson’s book about Celine Dion called Let’s Talk About Love and I just fucking adored it. (Okay, so I did like one recent Canadian book.) Now the truth about that book is — and I’m not telling tales out of school because Wilson admits as much — Let’s Talk About Love is all about Sheila Heti. That’s why I love the book so much, because it’s a love letter in the form of an essay. Read between the lines — Wilson keeps digressing and talking about Heti — and the book is up there with Roland Barthes A Lover’s Discourse as far as I’m concerned. It’s a theoretical book that is actually driven by a real love affair.

Wow.

So what I’m saying is that Sheila is young and beautiful and brilliant with her whole life ahead of her and has only had the singular misfortune of being loved too much by a perfect, brilliant man.

So who wouldn’t want to read a reality novel about her charmed fucking life?

And me, I’m an old, crippled faggot. I’ll never run again. I’ll never kneel again — not without help — very humiliating, let me tell you, for an old cocksucker like me. I’m 62 years old and I drink too much and I’ll probably be dead soon. And I’m still a fucking hopeless (and I mean it is hopeless) slut.

The real truth about Sheila Heti is one thing.

But who wants to hear the real truth about me?

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Shakespeare Beyond Science

Shakespeare Beyond Science

When Poetry Was The World
edition:Paperback
tagged : shakespeare
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Small Things

Small Things

(a random selection of anti-essays)
edition:eBook
also available: Paperback
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small things

small things

(a random selection of anti-essays)
edition:Paperback
also available: eBook
tagged : essays, canadian
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St. Francis of Millbrook

St. Francis of Millbrook

edition:eBook
also available: Paperback
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