The award-winning novelist Trevor Cole is also a journalist, and he's been on the case of a turn-of-the-century Canadian bootlegger and the Mountie on his trail. The resulting new work of non-fiction is The Whisky King, the story of Rocco Perri and his pursuer Frank Zaneth, the RCMP's first undercover operative. The Toronto author shares his current passions.
What he's reading: "A couple of weeks ago, I couldn't have said I was a fan of ghost stories. Now every night I look forward to spending time in the graveyard with the spirits of Reverend Everly Thomas, Hans Vollman and Roger Bevins III. Lincoln in the Bardo, the new book by satirist George Saunders, is absurdly funny in parts, but also tender and melancholy. And the form of it – an assemblage of quotes and remembrances, both real and fictional – is fascinating."
What he's watching: "I used to watch cooking shows regularly, but I tired of the way TV turned the art of making good food into a combat sport. Then I found Chef's Table, on Netflix. Each episode is a beautiful, meditative documentary about a groundbreaking chef in some far-off part of the world. You get inside the head of the chef, come to understand their story, and why they cook the way they do. The filmmaking is exquisite. Other shows may do sport, but this is cooking as poetry and philosophy."
What he's listening to: "The burst of attention paid to Jake Gyllenhaal for his recent Broadway performance in Stephen Sondheim's Sunday in the Park with George got me listening again to the original cast recording from 1984. Mandy Patinkin played the painter Georges Seurat, and Bernadette Peters played his model, Dot, and they're both wonderful. It's the perfect thing to listen to on a peaceful Sunday afternoon, especially if you care about art and the agony of the artist."
Trevor Cole, with Elan Mastai, Carolyn Harris and Karen von Hahn, read at Ben McNally Books and Brunch, April 9, 10 a.m. $55. Vanity Fair Ballroom, King Edward Hotel, 37 King St. E., 416-361-0032