Monday, October 25, 2010

Vancouver International Writers and Readers Festival Highlights

I'm heading home to Edmonton later today after a wonderful week on Granville Island, listening to authors read, chat with each other and answer questions from the audience. The Vancouver writersfest is really good at putting together interesting panel discussions. They also bring in a fabulous line-up and it's hard to choose between concurrent sessions. I did manage to attend ten events. These are the highlights:

Ali Smith at two different events yesterday, impish and witty despite jetlag. I wasn't the only one laughing out loud when she read the story, Last, in its entirety. (Last is available online in the Manchester Review.) When we heard that Smith would only be appearing on Sunday, we rescheduled our flight in order to hear her. I'm so glad we did!

Lynda Barry's fabulous writing workshop, Do You Wish You Could Write? Barry's gospel is that creativity is a human necessity. She was so inspiring and really funny too.

David Mitchell (in an excellent pairing with Katherine Govier). He read from a part in The Thousand Autumns in which there was a continuity error that he hadn't noticed until that very moment. (Birthmark on the right, then the left.) The audience roared when he flipped back to double check, then announced there would have to be a product recall.

Erin Moure performing her work. (I love that there were so many other wonderful poets and spoken word artists there as well.)

Rebecca James, Alice Kuipers and Martha Brooks in a lively discussion about "family and friendship." I'll post something about James' debut thriller, Beautiful Malice, in the near future.

There are always new discoveries at a festival like this. Andrew O'Hagan is a case in point. I didn't hesitate to add his book, The Life and Opinions of Maf the Dog and his Friend, Marilyn Monroe, to the stack I am taking home with me. Funny and philosophical and told in the voice of a Maltese dog that was given to Marilyn by Frank Sinatra. Run out and get it asap!

Emma Donoghue (Room), Kate Pullinger (The Mistress of Nothing), Kamila Shamsie (Burnt Shadows) and Andrea Levy (The Long Song) were all wonderful as well. And there were more. It was such a great festival!

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