Here’s a photo of me peeking out between some folks in the audience at my Blue Met panel on Thursday. For a summary of what we talked about, a blogger has written about it over here: http://nascentnovelist.wordpress.com/2011/04/29/the-city-as-a-character/
If you’re looking for reading material involving “the city”, I talked about What We All Long For by Dionne Brand, Bottle Rocket Hearts by Zoe Whittall, Lullabies for Little Criminals by Heather O’Neill, The Tin Flute or Bonheur d’occasion by Gabrielle Roy and Lisa Moore/Michael Winter/Kathleen Winter’s portrayals of St. John’s. I mentioned an anecdote about D.H. Lawrence that I picked up from Geoff Dyer’s Out of Sheer Rage. And of course, my fellow panelists own books – Gail Scott’s The Obituary is about Montreal’s Mile End/Plateau area and Peter Dube’s latest, Subtle Bodies, is set in surrealist-era Paris.
Having never spoken at this kind of writerly thing before, I was nervous, but in the end was happy with how it turned out. I learned that it was a good thing I didn’t write down word for word what I wanted to talk about or else I would’ve just read off the paper, and I didn’t want to do that. I learned that a glass of red wine beforehand will make me feel less nervous. A last minute purchase of a new dress from H&M helps too. I learned that a conversation involving writers and Montreal will eventually turn into a discussion about what it’s like being an anglo writer in this city and I realized that because Montreal is the city where I first truly felt comfortable calling myself a writer, I haven’t faced the particular challenges that might come with growing up and being a writer here. I learned that if you’re at a book signing table sitting next to Bernhard Schlink, probably you will sign zero of your own books. I learned that despite being wired on adrenaline for the longest time afterwards, I will still wake up at 5:45 the next morning to watch the royal wedding. All great lessons, no?