The Book That Changed My Life: Charles Demers

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      The Word Vancouver festival’s annual free celebration of all things literary continues until September 27. At its heart is, as always, a wide-ranging roster of authors.

      The Georgia Straight approached a group of these writers and asked them to describe their most their most significant experiences as readers. Which books fired up their desire to become authors themselves? Which ones resonated in a life-changing way?

      Here’s what Vancouver writer, playwright, and comedian Charles Demers told us. His new mystery, Primary Obsessions, introduces readers to a West Vancouver psychatric sleuth named Dr. Annick Boudreau.

      He's working on his second Dr. Boudreau mystery, Suicidal Tendencies. The Douglas & McIntyre series focuses on different aspects of her psychiatric practice, offering insights into the stigma that mentally ill people face. 

      Demers will be reading from his work at 8 p.m. on Sunday (September 20). Register here.

      I can’t think of any book that’s had a more profound effect on my life—both in terms of the explosive, revelatory experience of reading it as well its slow-burn influence on the choices I’ve made since—than the Marxist philosopher-critic Terry Eagleton’s Reason, Faith, and Revolution. Strangely, I found the original essay that the book grew from (Eagleton’s very negative review of Richard Dawkins’s The God Delusion) to be weirdly off-putting and unconvincing, and said so in my own largely positive review of Dawkins’s book at the time. But over the years, Eagleton’s case against atheism-on-the-cheap, scored off of straw-man theism, got under my skin. It would come to colour my whole thinking on meaning, transcendence, the compatibility of scientific and devotional ways of thinking, the universe, and God. I’m in theology school now, so, yeah—kind of a big one for me.