Tuesday @ the Leacock Festival


previously posted on Gather

In previous years, the official opening of the Leacock Festival was on Wednesdays – after the Laurentian University students’ reading, which was advertised as a pre-event, and was held on Tuesday evening.

This year, the Festival opened on Tuesday afternoon, and the LU students’ reading is part of the Festival proper, which is cool.

The first session featured Christopher Dewdney, author of 3 books of popular non-fiction, including The Immaculate Perception and Last Flesh.  He’s also written 11 highly acclaimed books of poetry, and won first prize for poetry in the CBC Literary Competition (closing date for submissions for this year’s competition is November 1, 2008, by the way!) He also participated in the TO Star’s Earth Hour article series, with On The Sprawl Apocolypse.

Dewdney read from his most recently published work, Soul of the World: Unlocking the Secrets of Time, which Harper Collins Canada describes as:

a voyage through the seasons of a single year as Dewdney explores the world, encountering friends, family and strangers. Out of these anecdotes and incidents, the author teases extraordinary insights about the nature of time and how it influences us. Illuminating and complementing the book’s content, this deeply personal discourse links the literary past, present and future.

I very much enjoyed his reading, and would have liked to buy the book. I was particularly interested in his depictions of a ‘meeting’ with an owl in his backyard, and in his thoughts about time travel.

The other reader was novelist and short story author Barbara Gowdy. Gowdy is the author of several novels including Mr. Sandman, The White Bone (which is told from the viewpoint of an elephant), and The Romantic. Her most recent novel is called Helpless

Helpless is the story of a child abduction, told from various points of view: the abductor, the abductor’s girlfriend, the child and the child’s mother. Harper Collins Canada says

Helpless is Barbara Gowdy’s brilliant new novel, a provocative, gripping story of an unthinkable act and a mother’s heroic love for her child.

The New York Times review describes Gowdy’s writing:

Gowdy writes as if she’s on a sinking boat and needs to throw out all the dead weight. The only words that survive are the ones that matter: no extraneous evidence of her research, no long-winded descriptions, no self-indulgent frills of characterization.

The novel was a finalist for the Governor General’s Award, and nominated for The Giller Prize. To hear Gowdy reading from Helpless, visit Authors Aloud. Or, to read an intertaining interview by Toronto Life Magazine, click here.
The student reading in the evening featured 12 students – most of us, previous Laurentian writing contest winners – reading poetry or short stories. It was a thoroughly enjoyable evening, even though the event was rather under-attended. And it was great to have a chance to catch up with people I haven’t seen in eons.


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