Sexist author David Gilmour, he's backtracking now: "There isn't a sexist bone in my body"

David Gilmour is some nobody author that was posted about last night.

Yesterday, ONTD hated on him (with thanks to hawaii_bombay for being a jerk who said: “I’m not interested in teaching books by women” and “I don’t love women writers enough to teach them, if you want women writers go down the hall. What I teach is guys. Serious heterosexual guys.” Gilmour, whose latest novel, Extraordinary, was recently longlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, tried to explain himself to Books Editor of Canada's National Post Mark Medley on Wednesday afternoon.

Q: Are you surprised by the response to your comments?

A: I’m absolutely surprised, but I’m also extremely sorry to hear that there are people who are really offended by it. I’ve been getting some letters this morning from people who are deeply, racially, ethnically, and intellectually offended by this. This was an interview I gave sort of over the shoulder.

I was having a conversation, in French, with a colleague while this young woman was doing this interview. So these were very much tossed-off remarks. They weren’t written down. It wasn’t a formal sit-down interview or anything like that. She said, “Gee, there aren’t a lot of women here.” And I said, “No, I tend to teach people whose lives are a lot like my own, because that’s what I understand best, and that’s what I teach best.” I can sell anything to anyone, but I have to be passionate about it. For example, I have a degree in French Literature, and I speak French fluently, but I don’t teach French Literature because I don’t feel it as deeply and as passionately as some of the other teachers here. So I actually send people down the hall to somebody who can teach it better. The same thing goes for German writers, for women writers, for gay writers, for Chinese writers. It’s got nothing to do with any nationality, or racism, or heterosexuality. Those were jokes by the way. I mean, I’m the only guy in North America who teaches Truman Capote, and Truman Capote was not what you’d exactly call a real heterosexual guy. So I really don’t know what this is about. And this is a young woman who kind of wanted to make a little name for herself, or something, because when I said “real heterosexual guys” I’m talking about Scott Fitzgerald [and] Scott Fitzgerald was not what you’d call a real guy’s guy, a real heterosexual guy. Part of Scott Fitzgerald’s charm is in his feminine sensibility. But then this noise happened. But I am sorry because some of the letters I’ve got from people they are genuinely offended, and that’s not funny. That is a drag.

Q: So how are you responding to these people?

A: I’ve emailed them all back, and I said I apologize. It was a careless choice of words. I’m not a politician, I’m a writer. We throw out tens of thousands of words every day. We usually rewrite them. In this particular chance, I didn’t get a chance to re-speak the sentence before it was printed. And so I’ve apologized. I said I’m sorry for hurting your sensibilities, but there isn’t a racist or a sexist bone in my body, and everyone who knows me knows it.

Q: Well, the fact that you “tossed off” these comments suggests it might be how you really feel.

A: Quite frankly, I was speaking to a Frenchman, so I was more concerned with my French than I was with what I was saying to this young woman. But I think anybody who teaches Truman Capote cannot be attacked for being an anti-anything. The gist of some of these remarks is that I only teach these big macho guys. What I am is I’m a middle-aged writer and I’m very interested in the middle-aged writers experience. And a lot of these people on my list, from [Anton] Chekhov to Fitzgerald to Henry Miller to Philip Roth, these are all people who write not just about being middle-aged, but about middle-aged writers, and that’s a subject I feel deeply and can speak passionately about. As I said, I can sell anyone on anything, as long as I feel passionate about it, so I only choose those writers I can be impassioned about.

Q: Are you going to reassess the books you assign to students?

A: No, I’m not, because you love what you love. As Woody Allen once said, “The heart goes where it goes.” And the people I love are the people that I love. If someone wants a course on Margaret Atwood or Alice Munro, I could put it on my curriculum, but I won’t teach it as well and as passionately as some of the teachers down the hall. So my job as an instructor is to send them to where they can get the best education about those people, and it’s probably not going to be in my room. You want to learn about Scott Fitzgerald? You want to learn about [Leo] Tolstoy or Chekhov or Philip Roth? I’m your man.

Q: Have you spoken to any of your colleagues “down the hall?”

A: They’ve heard about it, and they’re all sort of surprised. And bemused. One thing I haven’t explained to them is that there are some people who are authentically distressed about this. I have ambivalent feelings. On one hand, I’m glad I have the opportunity to air these complaints, because I don’t want my reputation, which is impeccable as a teacher, to be besmirched in any way. Almost all my students are girls. They come to my class specifically because they want to read and learn about this particular subject. Microbiology is three doors down. I went to the principal this morning and she said, “Well, these are remarks that probably could offend people. The intent is not there to offend, but they could be interpreted as offensive.” So I said, “Fine.” And I apologized to her, for the little dog doodle that I’d obviously left on her carpet, and then I said, “I will take care of this personally on a one-on-one basis.” What are your thoughts?

Q: Not good. The fact that at one point you say you only teach great books, and at another point say you don’t teach women’s fiction. It’s quite easy to draw a line from one comment to another.

A: But I say I don’t love women writers enough to teach them. That’s all I’m saying. What I teach are guys. If you want women writers, you go down the hall. The limitation, to me, is quite clear there. The limitation is in my ability to teach these women, and I don’t want to do a bad job. It’s not got anything to do with whether or not they’re great writers or not. It has only to do with my capacity to teach them passionately and well.

Q: Have you spoken to anyone from HarperCollins?

A: I talked to Patrick Crean. He was concerned that this was going to affect the general climate around the book, that some women might not like the book if they think that that’s my policy. And that’s one of the reasons that I’m apologizing. Normally I actually wouldn’t. But I think that there’s enough people here that there’s something in the tone of these quotes, these over-the-shoulder quotes, that has seriously offended people and just made them think that look, the only guys we’re teaching here are just big hard-on guys, and the rest of the stuff is featherweight. And it’s just not true. I don’t want my teaching reputation besmirched by that, and I don’t want people not buying my book because they think that’s the position I hold in the world. Because I’ve just written a book in which the principal narrator is a woman.

You can read the entire interview at the Source on the National Post's website

I know he's a nobody but the post last night hated on him like he deserved and when I saw this today, I thought his haters would enjoy his backpedalling.