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Our Type Reader for February is John 'Sissydude' Webster


In addition to being February's Type Reader, John Webster is also the artist behind this month's exuberant window display which features the best of kitsch, cute and creepy. An avid collector of the weird and wonderful, John's aesthetic sensibility translates into his discerning taste in books. 

What is the first book you remember loving?


A.A. Milne’s Winnie The Pooh books for sure and Georgie and the Robbers by Richard Bright (which came with a read -a –long 45). And who knows how many Golden Books I went through. But those were mostly about the illustrations.

What is your favourite virtue in a book?


When my heart and brain instantly “gets it”.  I can watch an awful movie or TV show all the way through. But a book, if I don’t feel it… won’t be finishing that. Not happening.

What do you appreciate most in a book character?


I adore an honest and truthful character with very clever thoughts.

What character (real or fictional) do you dislike the most?


Who wrote The Secret? Rhonda Bryne it is!

If you were to write a non-fiction book about anything, what would it be about?


I’d write about myself… and make art for it. Picture book with words titled ‘Sissydude’.

Your favourite prose authors?


Truman Capote & Bruce Chatwin

Your favourite poets?


Not a poetry fan. I love great song lyrics though… that’s my fave poetry. I get a kick out of reading Rod McKuen’s 1960s and 70’s books of poetry. They can be hilarious. Many a party has included readings. Check out his books ‘Listen To The Warm’ and ‘Fields Of Wonder’. Seriously.


Oh, and Suzanne Somer’s  ‘Touch Me’ poetry book is EPIC!!!

Your favourite book illustrators?


Mary Blair, Ernest H. Shepard, Gustaf Tenggren, Beatrix Potter, Ludwig Bemelmans, Jean Cocteau, John Tenniel, Walter Crane, William Wallace Denslow , Charles Shultz and many others.

Do you read on public transportation?


I always did in my college years. ‘Still Life With Woodpecker’ y’all! Never read books on public transit anymore. I just watch people staring at their phones.  I really miss when you’d see everyone reading books in the 1980’s. Clan Of The Cave Bear and Danielle Steele as far as the eye could see. There was always some kid pretending to read James Joyce’s Ulysses.


What qualities do you want in a book you’re reading while traveling?


Again, not reading much when I’m not at home. Books are quite distracting for me on a journey.  I like to watch and see what’s around me. Though something fluffy and fun like Tina Fey’s Bossypants, early David Sedaris and awesome Pauline Kael film review books have worked in the past.

What book have you never read but have always meant to? Do you think you will ever read it?


Kerouac’s ‘On The Road’. I’ve tried about a dozen times and I just can’t seem to get past the first paragraph without rolling my eyes. It’s no Peyton Place.

What book do you pretend to have read, but in fact have not?


Ulysses for sure and anything by Ayn Rand.  I love hating Ayn Rand, it’s so much fun because people who love her are usually THE WORST.

If you could force a single celebrity to read a specific book in its entirety, who would you choose, and what book would you make them read?


I’d make Donald Trump read André Aciman’s ‘Call Me By Your Name’… all of it.

What book(s) are you reading right now?


Well, I have great bathroom reads that are always in the loo. My three latest go-to's are Marlene Dietrich’s ‘ABC’, Boyd McDonald’s ‘Cruising The Movies’ and Francis Davis’ ‘Afterglow, A Last Conversation With Pauline Kael’.


To be honest Dietrich’s ‘ABC’ has been in my bathroom for like 15 years. It’s sooooo great. A never-ending pleasure. Basically Dietrich sharing her thoughts on random things organized in letters of the alphabet.  Examples: Potatoes: “I love them. I eat them.”  Baby: “The all-important. The wonder. The never disappointing. The reason for enduring anything and everything. Living confidence. The epitome of trust. A fragile, helpless Hercules. 


Yep, pretty awesome.


Boyd McDonald’s ‘Cruising The Movies’ is his “sexual guide” to televised cinema that was originally published in 1985. It’s a ton of fun reading McDonald’s thoughts on male stars and their impressive (or not so impressive) body parts. Extremely witty and subversive.


I’m a huge fan of Pauline Kael. In Afterglow, Kael dishes about her life and the movies in 126 delicious pages. Smart and sassy till the end, that Kael. BTW, she actually loved the Sex And The City series.


I’m also about to start reading Evelyn Waugh’s Sword Of Honor. A neighbor of mine lent it to me after he found out my cat Sebastian was named after the Brideshead Revisited character. He insisted that I read it.


We will see.  It’s a fictional account of WWII and I don’t think Anthony Blanche makes an appearance. This might end up being my new Ulysses. 



photograph of John Webster by Serah-Marie McMahon