Strange opportunities that arrive

DSC_2612.jpg

I sponsored the two older kids’ rep soccer teams this season by “buying a sleeve.” We decided to add “A NOVEL” to the title GIRL RUNNER, thinking that a team of 13-year-old boys might not appreciate having to wear that label during games.

DSC_2610.jpg

This was our dining-room table, Monday afternoon. Two sets of page proofs, one galley, one sharp red pencil, and one mother announcing to all who entered after school, “There will be no eating or drinking on or near this table until I AM DONE!”

I am done.

All may eat and drink here again.

DSC_2609.jpg

Last night’s reading at DVLB was really fun. I even indulged in a scotch, thanks to the kindness of a friend who treated. Imbibe ye scotches while ye may. Life’s too short not to enjoy the pleasures that arrive. Even if that happens to be on a Tuesday night and you’re running the next morning. And so I did. (And I ran this morning too: Run ye many kilometres while ye may.)

No scotches tonight, however. I’ll be driving to and from Hamilton, where I’m reading at Bryan Price Bookseller, 7pm, with other M Word contributors. (Note to self: look up directions!)

Tomorrow I’ll be at the Anansi offices working on publicity plans for Girl Runner. (Note to self: more directions! Look up!)

DSC_2603.jpg

Can you read the above? I can’t. File this under Strange Opportunities that Arrive via the Internet. Last month I was contacted by an editor at Unitas, a Chinese-language literary magazine in Taiwan, who wanted to interview me for a special issue they were planning on Alice Munro. (They’d found and loved my review of Alice Munro’s Dear Love in the National Post.) I agreed. And this month, two copies of the beautifully produced magazine arrived in my mailbox, in an envelope covered in fancy stamps. Sometimes the world seems very very small.

I’ve never met Alice Munro, and can’t imagine what I would say to her if we were to meet. It’s an entirely one-sided relationship based purely on my reading of her stories over many years. I’m immersed in MY LIFE IN MIDDLEMARCH right now, a truly wonderful book that combines biography with memoir, and in some way I feel like my relationship with Alice Munro is similar to Rebecca Mead’s with George Eliot; but Mead has the benefit of distance and I’m not sure I’d feel comfortable exploring Alice Munro’s life and work in quite the same way, given that she’s still living, and that our worlds literally overlap in time and space. It wouldn’t be historical exploration. There’s a freedom to digging back into the past, way back. I’m aiming to do it now, in my next novel. Nothing can be perfectly recovered from the deep past, and so one may imagine quite freely.

Yet I’m so admiring and relishing this memoir/biography mash-up on George Eliot — I would do it, if I could figure out my relationship with non-fiction, a form I’m still learning. I’m thinking out loud here, brainstorming as I type. Perhaps not the best way to compose a blog post on which one is about to press “publish.” But if I could figure out how, yes, I would write about Alice Munro.

I think the NMA nomination was especially thrilling (and perhaps seductive) because it was earned for “personal journalism,” aka non-fiction. It’s a form that interests me more and more, that I find myself devouring more and more, and that I want to learn how to master.

DSC_2616.jpg

We were very tired, we were very merry
Where are you going, where have you been?

5 Comments

  1. wow does he look like Kevin – growing up way too fast! Love the shirts. Love the post. Loved the scotch and excited to have Girl Runner in my hands come the Fall. So cool about the Chinese magazine. Ni hao, Unitas! Love the idea of “personal journalism”. (Photojournalism and social justice photography are intriguing me more and more.) Great to see you last night (if too late to hear you – dang) but am loving the moments I can grab even if few and far between. Congrats on everything! x nance

    Reply
  2. I live in the neighbourhood that Alice Munro first lived in when she was in Victoria and walk by her Cook Street house longingly many times each week. My dream is that it will go for sale exactly when we’re hoping to buy in this city. I also walk along Rockland Avenue at least once a week with a friend so much pass that house of hers, too. (You can see them here: http://evelazarus.com/alice-munros-b-c-connection/)

    I think it would be great if you could figure out a way to write about Munro in a way that makes the most sense for you. I bet you’ll do it, it’ll just be a matter of the right time and right hook.

    Also, barely related, I read your essay in How to Expect…yesterday and it really spoke to me. Not my exact experience, but trying to fill loss with new life. And many more things to. Great writing.

    Reply
    • I loved seeing those houses, Marita! I would pick the first, smaller one, personally.

      Thanks for your thoughts on the essay. I must admit that I return to it from time to time to try to access the wisdom that’s there. I especially like the final sentences, which read like a riddle I long to puzzle out. (I’m talking about the essay as if it were written by someone else … which is how I feel about many of the things I’ve written over the years. Do you ever feel that?)

      Reply
  3. Yes, the smaller house is definitely the one I’d prefer. Walking by it (it’s on a corner, so I have an idea the size and shape) it feels absolutely perfect.

    And yes, I often feel like something I’ve written was written by someone else. I recently reread a novel-in-progress of mine from a few years ago that I was considering returning to, and it was such a strange experience reading it. Familiar, but not my own.

    Reply
    • Makes it difficult to return to older work, doesn’t it…

      Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *