Have I not blogged about The Writers’ Guild of Alberta “An Afternoon with the Author’s” event at Audreys Books yet?
Well, it was smashing. My husband, Freddy; my mother, Angela; my brother, Daniel, and Daniel’s roommate, Evan, were able to make it, to I was quite supported. Pre-event, we mutually decided a calm-the-nerves-beer wouldn’t hurt.
Which of course, it didn’t. But the sudden hailstorm that hit sunny downtown Edmonton as soon as we began our walk from the pub to the bookstore kind of did, and I ended up at Audreys looking a bit like a drowned cat. Oh well; it’s about the words, not the hair, right?
On my arrival, I was very pleased to meet the ever-helpful Natalie Cook, a coordinator for The Writer’s Guild of Alberta, and a woman who practices witty email banter and patience in answering my many questions. I wish I had taken a photo of her, our afternoon’s MC!
I read an excerpt from my Howard O’Hagan nominated short story, “But For the Streetlamps and the Moon and All the Stars,” a story inspired by a 2014 Calgary crime in which three teenage girls desecrate a urn found in an unlocked vehicle. I didn’t mess up much at all – I don’t think – and even managed to correctly pronounce the name of the writer whom I was to introduce to read after me.
Jennifer Bowering Delisle’s essay wove advanced medical understanding with poetic narrative beautifully. In it, her mother begins to show the signs of an neurological disorder, signs readily understood and quickly noticed by her physician-father. Heartbreaking, aching, smart; Jennifer’s piece really spoke to me.
Susan Hagan followed with a spunky, ass-kicking call to women that had the audience laughing, clapping, and cheering her on. She voiced the reading perfectly and with such energy that I was sure she must be a professional actress. I was going to raise my hand to high-five her as she made her way past me from the mike to her chair – that is, until she introduced Bobbi Junior, whose bio and work was of more somber things, inappropriate to have been followed by a round of high fives.
If ever you expect to comfort another after an unthinkable personal loss or time of tragedy, you must purchase Bobbi Junior’s book, The Reluctant Caregiver. In this reading, Ms. Junior remarked on the uselessness and the usefulness of hospital visitors. Those offering questions? Useless. Those offering comfy shoes or hospital parking vouchers? Invaluable. She had me in tears and was my husband’s favourite reading of the afternoon.
Victor Lethbridge began to present his heartwarming children’s book, You’re Just Right, but apparently his very brave little girl thought her daddy could use moral support and she quickly joined him in front of the crowd. The whole thing was completely adorable. I particularly enjoyed the part in his story when the parents address their now-grown child, telling her she is now “just right” for her own family. We forget that sometimes, don’t we?
Wendy McGrath read an excerpt from “North East”, a piece about a young child learning to write. The girl is fascinated with the shapes and slopes of letters, experiencing a keen sense of accomplishment in putting pen to paper in contrast to the small sense of disappointment she felt earlier in her life when creating childish artwork. It was an excerpt I think all writers could identify with (save for those writers blessed with the ability to beautifully draw, of course. I am not one of those artistic souls).
Mr. Rudy Wiebe was the last reading of the afternoon. He read from his latest novel, Come Back – certainly not an easy read, but a very important one, and one which succinctly captures such small detail in big ways. He read a scene in which the novel’s protagonist reads information of a piece of ancient pottery, found and categorized by his late son. Such beauty and meaning in such a small thing – a piece of clay – it was a perfect example of Mr. Wiebe’s ability to achieve the same richness in his scenes.
And then that was it. The readings over, we went upstairs to peruse Audreys’ rich shelves, purchasing books and having available authors sign them. My family and I capped off the afternoon with either a very late lunch or very early dinner (linner? Lupper? Dunch? Sunch?), and talked over what we had all just experienced.
Thank you to Audreys Bookstore and The Writers’ Guild of Alberta for the excellent event, as well as all authors who shared their work. I can’t wait to see everyone again (and meet the nearer-to-Calgary crowd) at the Awards Gala on Saturday!