This week’s literary dustup was over some remarks from award-winning novelist and University of Toronto professor David Gilmour, who said, among other things, that he doesn’t teach books by women, Chinese, or Canadian authors. For him, no writer of these demographics measures up to the creaky smut of, say, Henry Miller. Naturally, Gilmour was called to account for this interview, and submitted to a follow-up feature in the National Post where he tried to defend himself—making things much, much worse. Let’s see how deep a hole he’s digging, shall we?
This was an interview I gave sort of over the shoulder. I was having a conversation, in French, with a colleague while this young woman was doing this interview. So these were very much tossed-off remarks.
Those were jokes by the way. I mean, I’m the only guy in North America who teaches Truman Capote, and Truman Capote was not what you’d exactly call a real heterosexual guy.
And this is a young woman who kind of wanted to make a little name for herself, or something, because when I said “real heterosexual guys” I’m talking about Scott Fitzgerald [and] Scott Fitzgerald was not what you’d call a real guy’s guy, a real heterosexual guy. Part of Scott Fitzgerald’s charm is in his feminine sensibility.
It was a careless choice of words. I’m not a politician, I’m a writer.
Quite frankly, I was speaking to a Frenchman, so I was more concerned with my French than I was with what I was saying to this young woman.
What I am is I’m a middle-aged writer and I’m very interested in the middle-aged writers experience.
As Woody Allen once said, “The heart goes where it goes.”
I don’t want my reputation, which is impeccable as a teacher, to be besmirched in any way. Almost all my students are girls.