Will Aitken, Novelist, on the Set of Antigone



IN THE YEARS since his debut novel Terre Haute came out in 1989, Will Aitken has created a rich body of literary work that depicts sharply distinctive but flawed characters. Terre Haute, the name of his Indiana hometown, features a fourteen-year-old adolescent boy who struggles through an abusive relationship with an older man. He followed up with the poignant, semi-autobiographical A Visit Home (1993) and the portrait of a zany, sexually adventurous woman in Realia (2000).

Will Aitken.                              Photo by Gerald L’Ecuyer.

            Moving to Montreal in 1972, Aitken co-founded the city’s gay bookstore, L’Androgyne, in 1974 (it closed in 2002), and completed his studies at McGill. He was a film instructor at Dawson College, retiring in 2016. His latest book, Antigone Undone: Juliette Binoche, Anne Carson, Ivo van Hove and the Art of Resistance (University of Regina Press), recounts his immersion in the rehearsals and productions of a 2015 production of the classic play Antigone. The book is an intense high-wire act, detailing the creative processes of Oscar-winning actress Binoche, Carson (who translated the 5th-century BC play), and director van Hove, while ultimately conveying the author’s own severe depression after taking it all in.

            I interviewed Aitken in his Montreal home in April.

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Matthew Hays teaches film studies at Concordia University and Marianopolis College in Montreal.