Christian McPherson’s Cube Squared follows the exploits of writer and government worker Colin MacDonald, whose dealings with his coworkers are rivaled in wacky eccentricity only by the adventures he undergoes as a father. Most notable among these adventures is Colin’s epic quest to retrieve his daughter’s lost teddy bear, Mr. Honey.
The Varsity went to talk to McPherson about his new book, Cube Squared, a sequel to his previous work, The Cube People. McPherson studied at Carleton University and currently lives with his family in Ottawa, but he spent the weekend in Toronto to promote his new book with a reading at Queen West’s Type Books. We met at The Niche, a café on Queen Street West, to discuss Cube Squared.
Some of the scenes in Cube Squared read like extraordinary hyperbole. MacDonald’s coworker, for example, sells candy out of his cubicle. However, a lot of MacDonald’s life is autobiographical, and this is one of the reasons why McPherson found the book so easy to write.
“There is a lot of me in Colin MacDonald,” he says. Jokingly, he adds, “For example, we share dreams of literary stardom.”
In the book, Macdonald’s literary dreams find their outlet in a novel-within-a-novel called The Mosquito and The Maggot, a tongue-in-cheek vampire story. This was McPherson’s favourite part of the book to write; writing helps both McPherson and his protagonist deal with their
“Writing is what drives me. It’s my goal to get out of the cubicle and write full-time. I have a desire to leave that whole world,” says McPherson. This is a desire that many U of T students undoubtedly share, and McPherson doesn’t deny that he would prefer to write than to work at his office job, but he acknowledges that there are benefits to office work.
“It’s the worst thing you can be doing,” he says with a wry laugh, “and yet it allows you to be stable, have a steady income, and you can take breaks to write. There’s a lot to be said for pension and stability.”
Any U of T student with a loan will probably agree with McPherson on this point, though it must be said that his life is not all office drudgery. He has been able to tour in Toronto for the release of Cube Squared, and has received critical acclaim from The Ottawa Citizen and Quill & Quire for The Cube People, though he is most excited about recently receiving his first piece of physical fan mail.
Fan mail might seem like nothing to get excited about, but it’s significant because it’s rare for art to be well-received critically and publicly. How does McPherson manage it? I suspect it’s because anyone can relate to Colin.
“I mean, he’s got three kids, a minivan…he works in a cubicle. He’s an average working Joe,” says McPherson.
There are lots of working average Joes, but McPherson has managed to create one whose story is both heartwarming and funny. Cube Squared is a great read, and if you’re worried about ending up in a cubicle after graduation yourself, reading it will have the added bonus of assuring you that it’s not all bad.