Monday, April 21, 2014

Marquez, Matthiessen, Macleod. And The Walrus Talks at Blue Met 2014

It's been a sad couple of literary weeks with the passing of Marquez and Alistair MacLeod. In all honesty, I wasn't terribly familiar with MacLeod's work though I've read much of Marquez's work. Neither had written anything new in years so I suppose their passings represented slow declines.

But the death of Peter Matthiessen was one that bummed me out. I only discovered him in earnest a few months ago, actually, when I read Nine-headed Dragon River. I was so fascinated with that book that I went out and found Snow Leopard. Both of these books made a deep impression on me both for the writing but also for the voice of Matthiessen, how his protagonists (though one was a journal, so it was really him) were "men of their time" at the same time looking at issues of universal significance. So they were both of their times but also in other ways timeless. I heard that he had a new work coming out and it seemed his new book came out at the same time they were announcing his death. I was in Vermont over the weekend and did see it in several shop windows, though I didn't get a copy for some reason (I am in book overload mode and can't bear to buy any more books until after the Festival is over, I supposed). But it's at the top of my summer reading list. Though he was in his late 80s, I love that Matthiessen was still working and did much of his best work well past his 50s and 60s.

At any rate, back to Festival promotion...

With one week left before the Festival starts, we have about 10 days before The Walrus Talks event. Last
year this event sold out before the Festival began and this year the tickets are going fast. But there are still 20-25 left. It's a great concept: novelists, poets, thinkers, journalists and (this year) even a comedian all come together and talk on a topic. This year the topic is States of Mind and the event features Alix Ohlin (Giller short-listed for her novel Inside), Lisa Moore, Madeleine Thien (Dogs at the Perimeter, one of my favorite novels of recent years), Al Rae, Shelagh Rogers, George Elliot Clarke, Zoe Whittall, and Josip Novakovich (short-listed Booker International nominee). This will be a fascinating afternoon with ideas we can take away and ponder. Several times over the last year, various people have said something about last year's Walrus Talk, something someone said, an idea brought up (the theme was Building Bridges which is an issue constantly on Montrealers' minds).  The Walrus Talks event is on Saturday, May 3 at 2pm at McCord Museum. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased here.

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