Meet the Author: Julie Booker

Sometimes, with short story collections, it takes a little bit of reading before you fall in love. You might need to get to the second or third story before you're all "AHA! These are completely awesome!". Not so much the case with Julie Booker's debut collection of stories, Up Up Up. Partway through the first tale, of two plus-sized pals embarking on a canoe trip, we were messaging our friends and telling them how great this book was going to be. We were so enthralled by the twenty pieces in the collection that we wanted to know more about the great mind behind them, and asked Julie to answer our Meet the Author questions. You can also come out to The Holy Oak Book Club, taking place on Saturday July 30th, to meet Julie in person, hear her read, and ask her some questions of your own!

How would you describe Up Up Up to someone who hasn’t read it yet?

It’s 20 stories, often humourous, about people who don’t get what they want but who never stop trying.

Tell us a bit about what you’re reading right now.

The Odious Child and Other Stories
by Carolyn Black. Smart and funny. My kind of stories.

What was the first book you ever bought? Have you re-read it lately?

1972. The New American Webster Handy College Dictionary (pbk). 75 cents. And a paperback thesaurus. I bought them at the Scholastic Book Fair. The librarian praised me for my purchases. My friends said I was weird. The following year I bought a rhyming dictionary. I still use the thesaurus.

Is there a book that you’ve read that you would really like to go back in time and un-read? Why was it so bad?

American Psycho
. I didn’t read it as satire. I had to keep telling myself, this is an important book; I should read this. But I hated every minute of it.

Did you have a favourite book or story to have read to you as a child? What made it so special?

Green Eggs and Ham. Night after night, I made my father read it to me until finally he said he was sick of it. I said I’d settle for the Irish folktale he’d been telling us for years about a leprechaun who gets caught by a human and has to reveal where he’s hidden the pot of gold. The leprechaun convinces him to let him go on the condition he’ll tie a ribbon round the stack of hay it’s buried under while the man sleeps. Of course, in the morning there’s a field of red ribbons. I love a surprise ending.

What makes or breaks a live reading for you?


If you had to drop everything and immerse yourself in a book right now, what would it be?

I’m dying to read Pico Iyer’s The Open Road: The Global Journey of the Fourteenth Dalai Lama. I love his books.

You can choose one author to go out drinking with. Who do you pick, and where do you take them?

Leonard Cohen. Bar Italia on College St. With all those at-eye-level mirrors I could check out the other patrons’ reactions while appearing to give Leonard my full attention.

What’s your favourite opening to a book?

How about a story? I have two.

- This is the story I wouldn’t tell you when I was your girlfriend. (The Swim Team by Miranda July)

- “Tell me things I won’t mind forgetting,” she said. “Make it useless stuff or skip it.” (In the Cemetery Where Al Jolson Is Buried by Amy Hempel)

If you could re-write the ending to any famous novel, which would it be? And what might you change it to?

Old Yeller. I’ve since become wise to the inevitable ending of a book whose main protagonist is a dog.

Is there one big, famous book that you feel like you really should have read already, but still haven’t?

The Bible. In grade five, I decided a lot of the great stories of the world originated from it so I announced to Mrs. Ashby that I’d chosen it for my book report. She gently dissuaded me: “It’s a little long.” I’ve been meaning to get back to it ever since.

What word(s) do you love the most?

Skooch. Zaftig is pretty cool too.

What word(s) do you absolutely despise?

Like or um, but only when they like insert themselves into my speech when I’m like over excited or um nervous.

Photo: Denis De Klerck
Julie Booker is five feet tall. She lives in a Toronto row house and drives a tiny car. She has a toy poodle and twin baby boys. She teaches small children. She sees the world in pithy arcs, nicely contained. Her short stories have appeared in numerous literary magazines and anthologies, including the 2010 edition of Best Canadian Stories. She won the Writers' Union of Canada's Short Prose Competition for Developing Writers in 2009.

You'll find the rest of our Meet The Authors here. 


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