IFOA Event #2

How the heck did it get to be Wednesday? Just wondering...

So Sunday afternoon found me down at Harbourfront Centre geared up from some IFOA action. Alas there would be no shouting and screaming as I could still barely talk. It wasn't even the sexy hoarse voice that people get when they are losing their voice - it was the what the heck is wrong with you voice. But hey, it was an improvement over Saturday when I really couldn't talk at all. I showed up and figured out where I was supposed to be and picked up my tickets. I was in line for the reading when Ami McKay showed up! Since I was sounding worse than I did on Friday (although otherwise feeling better) she gave me a hug. She's such a sweetie!

The doors opened and I filed into the Premier Dance Theatre. I really must get there at some point to see a dance performance because it's a great theatre and I don't think there's a bad seat in the house. Speaking of seats - there were no reserved seats. So I reverted back to my concert-going days - front row centre! That's where it's at! Although apparently other people didn't think so or I intimidated everyone because until about 5 minutes before the event started no one would sit the row with me. I swear I'm not scary looking...

The host for this reading was Ania Szado (I really want to right Szabo because that's a friend's last name). Ania Szado is the author of Beginning of Was, which was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers' Prize. I really liked her glasses but I could not wear them because they would look funny on my teeny head (I need new glasses so I've been noticing them).

As usual, and with all events at the IFOA there was an empty chair on stage with a portrait of a writer that has faced imprisonment, death threats or exile, etc. I cannot remember who it was though but I signed the petition (it's been 4 days and I didn't take notes at the reading, sorry).

The first reader was Bernice Eisenstein. She read from her book, I was a Child of Holocaust Survivors. I've heard of this book and kept meaning to track down a copy but I haven't gotten to it. She read from two different sections in her book. One was about her obsession, or as she called it her addiction, to the Holocaust. She called it H and talked about how there ought to be support groups. This section was actually quite amusing. The next section she read about was her dad. By the time she finished reading I doubt there was a dry eye in the theatre. I know that it impacted the second reader, Ami McKay.

Ami McKay is the author of The Birth House but you guys know that already right??? Yeah, I thought so. Ami also read from two sections in her book. The first section was from the section on the Halifax Explosion. During her research she was overcome with how many births there were and how many mothers and children died. I remember that when I read the book I was pleased that she included it. (If anyone is looking for reading on the Halifax Explosion I heartily recommend Laura MacDonald's Curse of the Narrows, which was nominated for the 2006 Charles Taylor Prize.) Her second reading was from one of my favourite sections in the book. It has to do with vibrators. That's all I'm saying. That and the fact that this reading made the ladies behind me absolutely *howl* with laughter.

Then there was a 15 minute intermission. Most people ran to the bathroom or to browse the books. Me? I pulled out my laptop and tried to get an internet connection. There were a few in range but with crappy connections and I couldn't do anything. Oh well.

After the intermission Rosemary Sullivan read from Villa Air-Bel: World War II, Escape and a House in France. She also shared some of her personal stories that gave background to why she thought that this was an important story to tell. I'll be honest and tell you I wasn't familiar with this book before the reading but the subject matter is right up my alley. It would be highly convenient if the Charles Taylor Prize people decided it was worth a nomination because I try to read those and if it's not nominated I have no idea when I'll ever get to it (heck, I don't know when I'm going to get to the book that are on my bookshelves now).

And the last reader...the one I suspect that more than half of the people in the room where there for...Sarah Waters. It must be said - Sarah Waters is adorable. Especially when she stopped in the middle of her reading to take a drink of water and admitted that she suddenly had gotten very nervous. You could hear everyone suppressing their awwww's. So rather than saying aw everyone applauded and then she went back to her reading. She read two sections from The Night Watch. One was about Kay, an ambulance driver. The other was about two women on night patrol who were about to declare their real feelings for each other - although of course Waters stopped just shy of that moment.

Then it was over and there was a rush upstairs to purchase books and get Sarah Waters to sign them. All of the authors were signing books but the Water's line was by far the longest. I, of coures, browsed the books and bought a(nother) copy of The Birth House and got Ami to sign it as a Christmas gift to a friend. I also bought Charlotte Grey's Canada: A Portrait in Letters. You can never have too many Canadian history books lying around. By then the line was short enough to me to jump and I got my copy of the The Night Watch autographed.

I went to say goodbye to Ami and it turns out she was leaving too. So we went for lunch. She's so nice. Wait...I've mentioned that already. Oh well, it's worth saying more than once.

And now I must run because I need to get ready to go the the roundtable tonight on "Revolutions Big and Small" with Janet Fitch, Ami McKay, Claire Messud and Meg Wolitzer. It will be moderated by Shinan Govani. I've learned my lesson. I shall take notes.

But the question of the evening is will I be able to leave without buying more books? Especially Janet Fitch's books when I can get her to sign them... Or maybe Messud's The Emporer's Children?

This will be the last event I attend for this years IFOA. I'd like to have gone to Teresa Toten's reading but there's that whole pesky thing called my job. And it's busy. And every time I turn around it gets busier.

Up next for the IFOA reports will be the Sarah Waters interview that I attended on Sunday. And guess what - I took NOTES!