Current MFA candidate Greg Rhyno published his first novel, To Me You Seem Giant, this fall. We asked him to share a favourite debut read:
"I read Roddy Doyle’s first novel—a novel about a band falling apart—while my own band fell apart all around me. I was twenty-five, touring across Canada, and growing a lot of bad facial hair. I should’ve been having the time of my life, but instead, I was waiting for the inevitable disaster.
During those long, prairie silences (and when it wasn’t my turn to drive), I read The Commitments, a story dense with musical references, all caps Irish vernacular, and more onomatopoeia than Adam West’s Batman.
I’d seen movies about bands before—This is Spinal Tap, The Blues Brothers, even Alan Parker’s 1991 adaptation of the novel itself, but I’d never really seen a band come to life on the page. How could you capture the fumbling of rehearsal or the incomparable joy of pulling off a good show? How could you capture the sheer noise of it all? Doyle’s novel does it. And does it with soul.
Reading The Commitments reminded me that our little drama was not a new one, and that maybe all bands need a shelf life. The circumstances of Doyle’s story were substantially different than my own, but the similarities were comforting. Most recognizable were the characters. On the road, I met every one of them: the unleashed id of Deco Cuffe, the charming sleaze of Joey The Lips, the encyclopedic fanaticism of Jimmy Rabbite. All the strange and fragile people that go up on stage just to make themselves heard.
When our band finally called it quits, I knew that eventually I’d want to write about it. Roddy Doyle’s first novel made me think that it was time to try writing something besides a song."
Greg's own debut, To Me You Seem Giant, is now out from NeWest Press. Catch him at one of these upcoming venues:
- Saturday, October 28th @ Young Voices Conference: Northern District Library, Toronto
- Saturday, November 4th @ The Bookshelf in Guelph, [2pm w/ Daniel Griffin]
- Wednesday, November 15th @ Silence in Guelph
For more events visit gregrhyno.com