Friday, October 25, 2013

Worst question from the audience ever at VWF 2013

The opportunity to ask questions at author events was never more severely abused than on Thursday evening at Beyond Queer at the Vancouver Writers Fest.

A sock moose in the style of
a sock monkey caught my
eye on Granville Island.
Abdellah Taia, Amber Dawn and Nancy Jo Cullen were the writers we had just heard reading from their works. Cullen had chosen a short, funny piece, "Valerie's Bush," from her short story collection, Canary. The bush referenced in the title is subject to a radical makeover as part of Valerie's recovery after the breakup of a long relationship.

Okay, so back to the worst question ever. Of course it was of the kind that isn't a question at all, but an opportunity for personal expression. In this case, very personal. I didn't know the woman who raised her hand to speak, but she was seated right next to me. She addressed her comment to Cullen - and everyone in the theatre got to listen - while she described trimming her own bush. In detail. The visibility hindrance caused by her middle-aged belly. The attempt at a rectangle effect. The result that was more like a bacon strip.

It was not clear if this woman was sharing an invented joke or an anecdote from life, but it was the most awkward thing I can remember at a writers fest event. A stunned silence followed. Anne Fleming, the cheerful and capable host, swiftly moved on to another question from the audience.

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