The Names of Things: A Memoir

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The Porcupine's Quill, 2006 - Biography & Autobiography - 299 pages
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The Names of Things is a book about a man and a generation. Born to a working-class family in Toronto, David Helwig grew up in the haunted town of Niagara-on-the-Lake long before it became a fashionable summer destination for charter coaches of American tourists. David won a scholarship from General Motors to attend the University of Toronto and launched himself into theatrical productions at Hart House and mingled with such writers as John Robert Colombo, Henry Beissel, Edward Lacey, David Lewis Stein and Edna Paris.

After working in summer stock with young actors including Timothy Findley, Gordon Pinsent and Jackie Burroughs, he spent a couple of years in the suburbs of Birkenhead, then moved to Kingston where, in the 1960s he shared the world of little magazines with Tom Marshall and Michael Ondaatje and the world of prisons with the inmates he taught. In the 1970s he worked under John Hirsch at the CBC. He edited books for Oberon Press. He was part of the generation of young Canadian writers who believed they could achieve anything. He also shares a touching account of family life, of learning to be a father. Poetry, some of it never before published, catches the echoes of the life he lived. From childhood during the Second World War to becoming a grandfather at the millennium, this is the story of one man and his connections with the history of Canada in the latter part of the twentieth century.

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About the author (2006)

Born in Toronto in 1938, David Helwig attended the University of Toronto and the University of Liverpool. His first stories were published in Canadian Forum and The Montrealer while he was still an undergraduate. He then went on to teach at Queen's University. He worked in summer stock with the Straw Hat Players, mostly as a business manager and technician, rubbing elbows with such actors as Gordon Pinsent, Jackie Burroughs and Timothy Findley.While at Queen's University, Helwig did some informal teaching in Collin's Bay Penitentiary and subsequently wrote A Book About Billie with a former inmate.Helwig has also served as literary manager of CBC Television Drama, working under John Hirsch, supervising the work of story editors and the department's relations with writers.In 1980, he gave up teaching and became a full-time freelance writer.He has done a wide range of writing - fiction, poetry, essays - authoring more than twenty books.Helwig is also the founder and long-time editor of the Best Canadian Stories annual.David Helwig lives on Prince Edward Island in the village of Eldon.He indulges his passion for vocal music by singing with choirs in Montreal, Kingston, and Charlottetown.He has appeared as bass soloist in Handel's Messiah, Bach's St Matthew Passion and Mozart's Requiem.

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