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Eleanor Wachtel

26 October 2009 | Email This Post Email This Post | Print This Post Print This Post

Last week, Joseph Planta talked to CBC Radio host Eleanor Wachtel about interviewing and more. The host of Writers and Company, Wachtel hosts what is considered Canada’s foremost literary program. Podcasts of Writers and Company can be downloaded at here

Text of introduction by Joseph Planta:

I am Planta: On the Line. This is THECOMMENTARY.CA.

I’ve long been a fan of my guest now. And here’s why: A few weeks ago, it was a Wednesday, after a late lunch, I was in the bathroom brushing my teeth. I had to be somewhere at 3.00pm, and had to be out of the house by 2.15pm. I’ve tried to stop running the water as I brush my teeth, and to fill the silence or whatever it is that compels a lot of us to run the water, I turned on the radio in the bathroom. After the news, Eleanor Wachtel announced she was to interview Simon Winchester on the history of the Oxford English dictionary. It is not a dictionary I use—I use Wikipedia. Nor, are dictionaries a topic I would have listened to. But something compelled me to listen, and soon enough, I found myself riveted by the conversation, and I wasn’t out of the house until 10 minutes to 3.00pm. Later, I sought the program on the CBC’s website just to make sure I didn’t miss anything.

Eleanor Wachtel joins me now. She is quite simply the finest book interviewer in the country. To the author and the listener she is easygoing and engaging; welcoming and approachable. She has written and co-edited a number of books, including indispensible books of some of her interviews. She began her career in Vancouver, and was also an adjunct professor of women’s studies at Simon Fraser University here. She moved to Toronto in 1987 as a literary commentator at the CBC. She has hosted Writers and Company since its inception in 1990. In 2005, she was named to the Order of Canada, and the citation made note of her prodigious gift at interviewing, among other notable achievements. In its twentieth season, Writers and Company is the most prestigious literary program in the country. It airs on CBC Radio One here in Vancouver, Sundays at 5.00pm, and Wednesdays at 2.00pm. She’s in town having just done the Alice Munro tribute at the Vancouver International Writers and Readers Festival. On November 21st, she returns to open the Jewish Book Festival with a conversation with Meir Shalev. In Vancouver, please welcome to the Planta: On the Line program, Eleanor Wachtel; Good morning, Ms. Wachtel.