Thursday, October 20, 2011

Blue Metropolis at the Brattleboro Literary Festival

Came back Monday from the Brattleboro Literary Festival and was impressed. It's a small festival, no doubt, but what excellent audiences. The Mark Doty event was packed and it had probably close to 350 people in there, all laughing and hanging on every word. And he's so great, too: an excellent reader and really funny.

Mark Doty at the Centre Congregational Church in Brattleboro
photo by Beowulf Sheehan
The event Blue Met produced was on Quebec Writing and involved Monique Proulx and Kathleen Winter. It wasn't as full as the Mark Doty event but it was on Sunday morning so not really a surprise there. Still, there were probably 100-125 people there and, again, they were incredibly enthusiastic. On Saturday morning I heard Teju Cole (fascinating young writer of Open City) and American writer Anthony Doerr, a new discovery since I wasn't familiar with him. It turns out he lives in Idaho (where I'm originally from) and that in itself is interesting to me and was hoping I'd run into him later since in the entire time I've lived out east, I've never met a single person from Idaho (randomly I mean). But he had to leave due to twins with the flu...

Kathleen read from her novel Annabel and then Monique did a reading from two of her earlier works (including Wildlives, French title Champagne) and then from a more recent piece. Again, she's an excellent reader: she had everyone laughing and generally just charmed the pants off the entire crowd (not literally!). Great questions from the crowd and afterwards, many came up to me to thank me (?!) personally (as if I had done anything nearly as interesting as write and read from a novel!) and rave about Montreal.

Beautiful Brattleboro
A lot of the time I just wandered the little streets of the village and took long drives. Since it was a long drive, I bought a copy of Jeffrey Eugenides' new book The Marriage Plot on CD and I've never before listened to a book on CD while driving. But, wow, did the time go by fast. I found myself parked outside of the hotel before I checked in, listening to just "one more chapter." After driving nearly four hours! Looking forward to the drive this afternoon to Ottawa (for Ottawa Writers Festival) so I can get through another few CDs!

One of the best things about festivals like Brattleboro is the social side of it: we all had a nice dinner with authors and Sandy, the top-drawer festival lady there as well as the other festival organizers where we simply laughed and drank wine until late. That's where real relationships are established. Also, Brattleboro is a charming little town with a great pub, nice cafes and bookstores everywhere! And all kinds of art events going on. What more could I ask for?

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