Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Kat's Table

I am so punny.

I semi-impromptu attended an event held by the Vancouver International Writer's Festival this evening. I say semi-impromptu because I had looked into attending a few weeks ago but then with life the event slipped my mind.

I'm so glad I remembered though!

Tonight I heard Micheal Ondaatje read from his new novel "The Cat's Table" and then have a nice q&a and book signing.

The event didn't quite start at 7:30 as the start time promised but that's what happens with these sort of things!

I sat alone but had lovely discussions with the folks around me. The lady to my right told me I looked "very avant garde" and "Very French." I was wearing my Banana Republic Beige Trench and my Paris beret! Oh la la!

But back to the event, it took place at St. Andrew's Wesley Church on Nelson Street @ Burrard. The church was pretty big and it was packed!!!

As Ondaatje read from his new novel in his authoritatively soothing voice the audience laughed at appropriate times.

When the question period began he remarked "I have to think and talk at the same time?"

Although, Ondaatje took the ship in the 50s from Sri Lanka to England just as his character Micheal did, he does not remember the journey and so was able to invent it.

The title "The Cat's Table" came about while he was having a phone conversation with someone in Germany who remarked she had been sat at the cat's table. Ondaatje had to ask what it was and his phone partner explained it was the worst table at an event. For a while it seemed to hold the novel together for him.

The audience question period went fairly well despite the acoustics in the church weren't all that great (odd for a church) and the one person who felt they needed to hear themselves talk and told an exceptionally long story that wasn't relevant to The Cat's Table. Luckily, Ondaatje was very diplomatic and guided this person to sit back down when she tried to ask a second question by pointing out the line behind her.

One of the best parts of the Q&A was when he discussed the two landscapes that have shaped him and his craft. He gives dues to his roots and where he put down roots. I think that's very noble and very true to his literature.

I got in line to have my book signed and was it moved along I looked around and noticed who I thought was David Chariandy. One of the VIWF staff walked by me so I asked just to make sure.

It was him! I had to make a decision and I decided that the line would still be there and David might not. Hoping out of line I went and introduced myself to him. Reading his novel Soucouyant for my Fourth year English class helped me huge to deal with my Grandfather's dementia. I even passed the novel along to my mother for her to read and understand further.

I am so very glad that I jumped out of line. My heart was such a flutter and I was so starstruck!

I got my book signed by Ondaatje and floated home.

The past is still, for us, a place that is not safely settled.
Michael Ondaatje

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