Michael Winter is very likely counting his blessings. Last year he narrowly escaped death by incinerator, and together he and novelist Christine Pountney have most recently entered a new chapter (excuse the bad pun, but I can’t help myself!) in their lives: They are proud parents of a beautiful baby born barely two weeks ago. And it is no secret that Michael has even more to happy about: His most recent book has just made the Giller long list.
Self-Portrait by Michael Winter
I bought Winter’s first book of short stories Creaking in Their Skins back in the days I would run into him in doorways around St. Johns, Newfoundland, and was taken by the imagery and sensuality of his language. Since then he has come far and won numerous awards, including most recently a publishing deal with Penguin. One critic has described his work as linguistic pointillism. Perhaps when I have caught up on my reading I’ll understand what that means. I’m also looking forward to reading some of Christine’s work. Her book Last Chance Texaco was long-listed for the prestigious Orange Prize in 2000.
Pancake Island by Michael Winter
That Michael Winters is now on the Giller Prize list with one of my all time favourite writers Michael Ondaatje was far less of a surprise to me than the recent discovery that this writer can paint, and paint well. A painting of his family seated around a table reminded me very much of a Vuillard, and even a notebook sketch shows wonderful promise. Michael says he might consider some kind of “writers that paint” exhibition, but he has too much respect for painting to claim to be a visual artist. I disagree.
This man is already a painter whether he likes it not, and I think it would be exciting to see touches of his sketches or paintings in the pages, or even on the cover of one of his books. I wish the new family every happiness, and am getting ready to dive into ten years of his writing, but before I follow the exploits of Winter’s alter ego, Gabriel English, l will start with his 2004 novel about the life of artist Rockwell Kent, The Big Why.