25th Trillium Award

The Dirty Dozen, with Eric Bronson

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Eric Bronson

Eric Bronson is a writer and philosophy professor at York University. He can often be found working on his novels at Yerba Mate Cafe on Queen West, but while he might be a familiar face, his New Jersey accent suggests that he hasn't always known these streets. Before landing in Ontario he travelled through the USA, Thailand, Russia and the Ukraine, and you might say he's learned a life lesson with each precarious journey. He shares some of these — and a few confessions, in his take on the Open Book Dirty Dozen.

Eric's new novel, The King of Rags (Neverland Publishing), follows the life of ragtime pianist Scott Joplin.

Eric Bronson's Dirty Dozen

1. I left New York City to follow my girlfriend (now my wife) to Ontario. My application for Canadian citizenship is still pending, in part because I have been unable to prove that I speak English. Apparently my New Jersey accent is (*$+#^*!) problematic. Fair enough.

2. Life lesson I learned at my book launch this summer at the Scott Joplin International Ragtime Festival in Sedalia, Missouri: You better know how to point out the nearest bathroom or you won't be able to answer 90% of your fans' questions.

3. While monitoring inconsistencies in the Ukrainian Parliamentary elections in the early 1990s, I accidentally voted three times.

4. On the Trans-Siberian railway I became an unwitting partner in a coat-smuggling operation as we crossed the Chinese border into Russia. When the black marketeers who shared my cabin were kicked off the train it fell to me to disembark the next day and hand over the duffel bags to a comrade's mother. She thanked me and served me tea.

5. While playing recreational whiffle ball I broke my nose and contracted Lyme disease... 20 years apart.

6. Life lesson I learned from the Nigerian guy who pumped gas with me at a Chevron Station in Washington, D.C., after I complained that the boss man stole my cigar: "Next time you get something for free, don't tell anyone. Idiot."

7. Barnacle Bob plays the most authentic ragtime music I've ever heard at the Snake Pit in Dawson City, Yukon. If you've ever read Robert Service's "The Shooting of Dan McGrew,"

"Then you've a haunch what the music meant. . . hunger and night and the stars.
And hunger not of the belly kind, that's banished with bacon and beans,
But the gnawing hunger of lonely men for a home and all that it means;"

8. Most pleasant surprise I've learned in my travels: Thai sex workers in the Bangkok red-light district are remarkable Connect Four players. Virtually unbeatable.

9. I trained for three years at the Broadway Dance Center's elite tap dance school, never making it beyond "Beginners."

10. Worst opening line received on a final exam essay from a failing philosophy student: "Evil is something that is very bad."

11. After traveling all the way to Pamplona, I decided not to run with the bulls at the last moment when my wife casually mentioned that she forgot to bring my change of underwear.

12. Life lesson I learned from Chef Ron: "The cheaper the beer, the better the soup."

Eric Bronson teaches philosophy in the Humanities Department at York University in Toronto. His historical fiction novel, King of Rags, was published last summer by Neverland Press. He is the editor of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Philosophy (2011), Poker and Philosophy (2006) and Baseball and Philosophy (2004), and co-editor of The Hobbit and Philosophy (2012) and The Lord of the Rings and Philosophy (2003). In 2007 he served as the "Soul Trainer" for the CBC radio morning show Sounds Like Canada.

For more information about King of Rags please visit the Neverland Publishing website.

Buy this book at your local independent bookstore, online from the publisher or at Chapters/Indigo or Amazon.

1 comment

You sir, make me laugh! I look forward to learning more about your life experiences Mr. Bronson !

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