Friday, 18 June 2010
TORONTO - 'PEG' ATWOOD ETC.
It's another roasting hot day in Toronto and my two darlings are napping. I - as usual - am wide awake. I was moderator at a reading this morning by Irish writer Billy O'Callaghan and Taiwanese writer Chang Ying-Tai. It was a very entertaining reading. Australian writer Paddy O'Reilly read Ying-Tai's work in English while Ying-Tai gesticulated and laughed and did matching actions. It was all very charming and not a little bizarre!
Billy read from his 2009 collection In Too Deep, the story 'Syzygy', which is about the end of a relationship. Billy read beautifully - very low key and convincing. Alistair MacLeod, who is one of his literary heroes (and mine) was in the audience. What an honour.
I went to a panel on nostalgia in short fiction which looked at stories by three writers I love: Elizabeth Bowen, Mavis Gallant and the aforementioned Alistair. The papers were delivered by three young academics - all very articulate and capable.
Later, Bharati Mukherjee read to us from a brand new story as we ate lunch in the Executive Dining Room at York Uni. And later still Margaret Atwood was interviewed by Clark Blaise. I would have liked more chat about her stories, specifically, and about her relationship with the short story and even the writing world, or some such. I didn't stay to the end and maybe things got more interesting after I left, but I was fighting to concentrate so I snuck away. Talk to us of short stories, Peg! (The interviewer is a friend of hers and he calls her Peg.) Anyway, Peg is reading later with Bob (Robert Olen Butler), Al(istair MacLeod) and Li Ang. Should be good.
My reading is on tomorrow at 9am. Cruel. Particularly as tonight is the night us Irish are getting together to go out. Hope I can stay awake...