How Andrew Got from A to J to B

Andrew J. Borkowski, was born at St. Joseph’s Hospital to the sound of earth movers flattening Toronto’s old Sunnyside Amusement Park just outside his delivery room window. He grew up along Roncesvalles Avenue, north of Sunnyside, where he pursued a road hockey career in the back laneways, hoisting several Stanley Cups ingeniously crafted from his mother’s pots and pans. During this period, he also conducted amphibious assaults, paratroop landings, and tank battles amid the duck ponds and forest paths of nearby High Park. In spite of all this he-man-type activity, Andrew was a delicate child who learned at the age of thirteen that the best way to avoid a thrashing at the hands of his peers during recess was to write cleverly derivative science fiction stories which were read aloud to the class every Friday by his teacher, Mr. Davis.

Spared from the gothic rigours of the Baltimore Catechism by Vatican II, he attended De La Salle College Oaklands, Toronto’s oldest catholic boys’ school, during one of the more colourful periods in its history—when B.F. Skinner, Herman Hesse, and Albert Camus briefly outranked Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John in the school’s religious instruction program. At the Carleton University School of Journalism, Andrew cribbed enough shorthand and basic reporter’s training to get on the staff of the university paper as drama critic, then switched into English Lit. He has lived a life of unrepentant artiness ever since.

Being inclined to ride off in many directions at once, Andrew combined his literary aspirations with a theatrical career in the years following university. He apprenticed with theatre director George Luscombe at Toronto Workshop Productions, and wrote, produced, and directed one-act plays for the city’s fringe theatre festivals. Unable to tap dance and too feckless to procure an agent, he gave up the theatre for good and devoted himself to writing full time. He departed for England in the company of his inexplicably patient wife for eighteen months of novel writing which taught him, among other things, how not to write a novel. The experience of life in a mansion full of mad potters did, however, provide him with the inspiration for another novel, tellingly entitled The Frenzy of Mad Sweeney, now in its second draft.

Upon his return to Canada, he devoted himself to freelance journalism, contributing travel, arts and human interest pieces to the Globe and Mail, the Los Angeles Times, Chatelaine magazine and countless doomed and now-defunct publications. For the past decade he has “watched cartoons for a living” as a kids’ entertainment specialist, first for TV Guide and currently for ParentsCanada magazine.

Being born on the cusp of Libra and Virgo has given Andrew proven career advantages. It has enabled him to combine the writer’s penchant for speculative whimsy (Libra) with a punctilious eye for detail (Virgo) that suits him to a parallel career as a copy editor and proofreader. As such, he has proofed and edited books for major Canadian publishers on everything from outlaw bikers to the lifecycle of the flatworm.

Always the pragmatist, Andrew waited until he had kids and a mortgage to launch a career in rock’n’roll, co-founding the Grayceful Daddies swingin’ blues ensemble, with whom he has been gigging steadily for ten years.

Andrew’s first book, Copernicus Avenue, a cycle of stories inspired by his youth in Roncesvalles’ Polish community will be published in spring 2011 by Cormorant Books. He lives in Toronto with his (still inexplicably patient) wife and astonishingly fabulous children, serves as an accidental hockey coach, and hopes to reincarnate as a Steinway grand.

©Andrew J. Borkowski, 2011