Sunday, October 23, 2005

IFOA On A Saturday Night

So last night, like Friday night, Zesty and I went to see an IFOA reading. There was only one author reading, but when that writer is John Irving, I suppose he's kind of a hard act to follow. Irving read from a new novel, a story about a cook and his son living in a logging camp in rural New Hampshire. The events of the chapter follow from the death of a young French Canadian lumberjack in a logjam, and extrapolate from there into the lives of the two main characters, as I said, the cook and his son.

I leaned over to Zesty and said, "[My RRBF's] father was a lumberjack, and he's French Canadian." Not seeing many similarities other than thinking that my RRBF would probably really like the book, once it's completed.

It was nice hearing something new, something fresh that Irving's working on; his poised delivery, his brilliant articulation in terms of preparing his reading, all contributed to what I'm thinking was a sort of once in a lifetime opportunity to see a sort of genius (and I do hate to use that word) at work.

Just before he read from the chapter, he introduced the new work, giving a sort of insight into his process by explaining how he thinks of 'landscape.' It's in the details, the research, the history, the background, everything that surrounds the plot, the characters. And I'm paraphrasing (of course), so forgive me if it's slightly off exactly what he said. The analogy struck me for some reason, and I'm still thinking about it this morning.

After the reading, and it was a good 40 minutes at that, he sat with a journalist and answered some of her questions. I'm not going to trash the interview here, but suffice it to say that everyone, including Zesty and myself, were complaining about her as we left the theatre. Annnywaaaay, the subject matter of the interview was about his latest published tome, Until I Find You, which again, I have at home but haven't started yet. It was well-treaded territory, Irving talking about his experiences in terms of not knowing his own father and his own very early sexual introduction. And then he finally took questions from the audience, well, 2 questions to be exact. The first was a prototypical literary "event" question; the second was a more pointed query asked to steer Irving into talking politics, which he did with humour, dignity and grace.

All in all it was a kind of surreal night, something that's so inspiring that you find it hard not to want to change your life (but in my case, I'm too damn lazy to make any substantial changes). Heh.

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