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Archive for August, 2012|Monthly archive page

b4b s2 e18: Eden Mills Festival Hodge Podge

In book club, radio show on August 30, 2012 at 11:44 am

“I think I’ve always had an oppositional personality when it comes to prescriptive media”
Inaugural Schmulitzer Prize Recipient, Peter Bradley

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Eden Mills Soft Launch (b4b – s2.e18)

Summer’s Summaries
A Monday night book launch for The Western Light (with accompanying a capella) steered expertly by Susan Swan’s Sexual Gothic troupe; and a Wednesday night premiere screening of Northwords (with live appearances by Director Geoff Morrison and authors Noah Richler and Alissa York)… I catch a whiff of the Eden Mills Writers Festival, and the waning of sweet summer, do you smell it?

We read from Lorna Crozier’s new collection of prose poems, The Book of Marvels: a compendium of everyday things (Dan: “Shakers”; Peter: “Vacuum”); we frolicked through the idea of Paul Auster’s new family memoir, “Winter Journal”; and holy guacamole is it ever a rich season of releases in Your Local Independent Bookstore: Salman Rushdie’s Joseph Anton, Ian McEwan’s Sweet Tooth, Michael Chabon’s Telegraph Avenue, for example. (!)

Music We Played
(band-album-song)
Dirty Projectors – Swing Lo Magellan – About To Die
Matthew E White – Big Inner – Big Love
Liminanas – Crystal Anis – Longanisse
Staff Benda Bilili – Bouger Le Monde! – Bilang

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Susan Swan & Geoff Morrison (b4b s2 e17)

In radio show on August 23, 2012 at 10:56 am

“My best writing always comes from the feeling of fluidity and ease”
Susan Swan

“[Torngat Mountains National Park is] very hard to get to, and the park isn’t designed for visitor experience. If we could go there with these artists and create a kind of response to the place, and film them doing it, and film beautiful footage of the park, then that would be a tremendous document.”
Geoff Morrison

“…uh,… it’s MORRISON…?”
Geoff Nicholson

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Susan Swan & Geoff Morrison (b4b s2 e17)

The Setting
The Eden Mills Writers’ Festvial is on, softly. Next week two events mark the beginning of this year’s season: Susan Swan is touring her new novel, The Western Light, and bringing along girl-noir band The Billie Hollies to perform her theatrical revue piece, “The Heroines of the Sexual Gothic”; and Geoff Morrison is bringing his newest film, the documentary Northwords, to the Bookshelf Cinema for an advance screening. We talked with both of them today.

Mr Morrison
Geoff Morrison is a Producer/Director of the new documentary, Northwords, in which Shelagh Rogers accompanies writers Joseph Boyden, Sarah Leavitt, Rabindranath Maharaj, Noah Richler, and Alissa York to Torngat Mountains National Park in Labrador, where the ensemble undertakes a project to tell the stories of the North. In Geoff Morrison’s interview he talks about the ineffability and largeness of that task, but also about the individual stories that do emerge: the landscape’s flora and fauna, the indigenous people, the mission of the newest National park in Canada.

Ms Swan
Susan Swan is a Grande Dame of CanLit. She’s a journalist, feminist, novelist, teacher and mulit-media writer. Her stories have been told on screen, stage and page. Her newest novel, The Western Light revisits Mary Beatrice “Mouse” Bradford, one of Swan’s amazing characters from her previous book, The Wives of Bath. In this story, Mouse is 12 years old, and vying for the attention of her workaholic G.P. father Morely Bradford, MD. Partially in his place comes sanitorium patient John “Hockey Killer” Pilkie, or Gentleman John as he’s known of the ice. He’s a former NHLer charged with the murder of his wife and child, but Mouse is past the point of face value. It’s a wonderful story, and makes for a good chat this episode.

Northwords

NORTHWORDS trailer from filmCAN on Vimeo.

Sir Hodge Podge (b4b s2 e16)

In radio show on August 9, 2012 at 12:07 pm

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Sir Hodge Podge (b4b – s2.e16)

Uno
Am I getting old if the first thing I look forward to reading in a dynamic, box-bursting collection like The Best American Comics 2012 is the Introduction? Francoise Mouly is helming here; she edits for the New Yorker, and is a career-spanning comics advocate (including her ongoing marriage to comics-great, Maus creator Art Spiegelman, and the influential magazine they created together in the ’80s, called RAW).

For this issue, she brings an expanded definition of comics–one that includes art appearing as a narrative series of images. She has also added a comics for kids section (finally!). And here’s a neat observation: “Back in the RAW days, many cartoonists came to comics through drawing–and learned to write. Now it seems more young writers are learning to draw.”

Duo

“How, for so long, could we know nothing of what was, and yet sit at the table of everything and every person met on the road? Small hearts–we nourish them on grand illusions, and at the end of the process we walk like the disciples in Emmaus, blind, alonside friends and lovers we don’t recognize–trusting in a God who no longer knows about himself”

How about that as a review of Alessandro Baricco’s Emmaus? Peter an I both read this novel, published lovingly by McSweeney’s, and translated from Italian by Ann Goldstein. Baricco’s book poetically explores the first person of a devout young Catholic, navigating the friendhips and loves of his mid-teens, fraught with hubris, hormones, accidental pregnancy and suicide. Four young men, and all the confusion of being alive. It’s up to readers to decide whther or not the narrator escapes the fate of Emmaus… whether or not he can see his beloved as they truly are before they disappear beyond comprehension.

 

 

 

Alix Ohlin (b4b s2 e15)

In radio show, reviews on August 9, 2012 at 12:07 pm

“Suffering does not make people noble. A lot of times suffering makes people psychologically incompetent, and they’re not good at having relationships.”
Alix Ohlin

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Alix Ohlin (b4b – s2.e15)

August 2nd: Alix Ohlin
Alix Ohlin (“oh-lean”) is a Montreal-born writer who is four books into a rich writing career that deserves many more readers. June, 2012 saw the simultaneous publication of her new book of stories, Signs and Wonders, and her new novel, Inside. Unheard of, no? But Toronto’s Anansi Press is on to something: Alix Ohlin writes characters you’ll wnat to know better. In her stories, she offers people who are in transition, who alternate between offering help and needing it. “The equation of helping is really very complicated. There are all kinds of reasons why attempts to intervene maynot succeed.”

In the Ohlin-iverse, there is much data for the student of psychology. And lesson after lesson about how easy it is to muddle even a seemingly simple relationship. Or perhaps the lesson is that simple human relationships rare. She says, “unhappiness, as difficult as it is, is usually where the story is found.”

For Alix, stories are more of a playground for the writerly mind, whereas novels take commitment to character over time.