#tbt An Interview with Ron Sexsmith

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Found in the Margins is a defunct web magazine that Chris DePaul founded in 2006. Chris and his co-writers would interview musicians, writers and activists on one question: What books inspire the work you do? The Brothers DePaul will be reposting these archived interviews every Thursday. #tbt

This week's interview: Ron Sexsmith

Singer-songwriter Ron Sexsmith has been earning critical acclaim for his beautiful songs and heart warming styles ever since his debut album entitled Ron Sexsmith was released in 1995. Sexsmith has received the accreditation of such famed musicians as Paul McCartney, Elton John, Elvis Costello, Bono, Radiohead and Chris Martin and has heard his songs covered by the likes of Rod Stewart, Nick Lowe and Canadian musician, Feist. Sexsmith has been nominated for a multitude of Canadian Juno awards over the past decade - in 1998 winning for his Roots & Traditional album and in 2004 taking home the “Song Writer of the Year” award.

Ron Sexsmith recently shared with foundinthemargins a few titles of his favourite books and discussed what he finds so engaging and passionate about each.

“I like [each of these books] all for different reasons,” says Sexsmith. “Something Wicked, for example, reminded me of my childhood when I used to dream about being a detective.” Sexsmith speaks of Raymond Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes. This piece of fiction tells the story of two thirteen years old boys who save the souls of the residents in a small Midwestern town - along with their own - when an evil packaged within a “dark carnival” enters their town one midnight.

“I love all of Dickens’ books because I find they have a great sense of warmth and humanity - and are very humorous,” Sexsmith states as he more specifically mentions Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations and Our Mutual FriendGreat Expectations is often identified as Dickens’ best novel, telling the story of a boy who is helped by two people to rise from poverty to wealth in this story of crime, revenge and reward. Our Mutual Friend is the last novel Dickens’ completed in his prolific career and is considered one of his darkest and most complex pieces of work.

John Steinbeck’s Pulitzer Prize winning masterpiece, The Grapes of Wrath, tells the story of one family out of the thousands in 1939 forced to head west in search of a land of prosperity. Steinbeck captures the perseverance of the true human spirit through dismay, false hopes and loss, in this novel about the pursuit for a dream. “The Grapes of Wrath is just a very powerful story that stuck with me ever since I first read it back in high school,” Sexsmith says as he reflects on the piece of literature.

Sabbath’s Theatre blew me away with its brutal honesty and the most heroic of anti-heroes I’ve ever read about,” Sexsmith says of Philip Roth’s Sabbath’s Theatre – a novel that plays its protagonist as every other author’s antagonist. The novel’s non-hero, Mickey Sabbath, makes a discerning effort to be bad with his appetite for ‘acts of exhibitionism, voyeurism, fetishism, auto-eroticism and oral coitus.’ Sexsmith adds that this is “not for the prissy or politically correct.”