Saturday, October 25, 2014

Up close and personal with some of Canada's top writers


On Wednesday evening I attended an enjoyable event organized by the Vancouver Writers Fest. When I asked these two gentlemen if I could take their picture, Joseph Boyden insisted that I be in it too. He then found someone to take a shot of all three of us.

Boyden, who hosted informal chats with other writers, is a leading light in Canadian writing today, teaches us about our darkest history in his brilliant fiction. Stephen Galloway has just completed a biography of escape artist Harry Houdini.

Other luminaries included Thomas King. He and his wife Helen Hoy chatted to me in the most friendly way. I was impressed to learn that Hoy painted the picture on King's latest book, The Back of the Turtle. It delighted me to hear that many schools and colleges are adopting The Inconvenient Indian. As I've said on this blog before, that one should be required reading for Canadian school kids.

I met both the Newfoundlanders in attendance. Novelist Michael Crummey introduced me to his tall wife Holly and I learned a lot about trends in journalism today from a chat with journalist Russell Wangersky. Turns out he's familiar with the street in St. John's where my aunts lived.

John Vaillant and Ian Weir were friendly and talkative, and I conversed with Charles Foran about regrets. It was interesting to hear Madeleine Thien, Rawi Hage, Carrie Snyder and Anne Kennedy speak briefly on stage. Turns out that Heather O'Neill used a lot of memories from her Montreal childhood to create her previous novel, Lullabies for Little Criminals, and her current one too.

Circulating, I talked to fellow attendees including CBC radio's Alison Broddle and an American consul. Overall, a stellar event.

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