Iain Reid had a piece in the National Post last week, called Why there’s still a place in the world for literary readings, in which he talks about various readings he's done, including Toronto's last Literary Death Match. While Reid talks about how readings are a good thing from the author's point of view, as a reader I value readings as well. I've certainly become interested in books I had no previous awareness of after an author appearance (the extraordinary Monoceros being but one; post coming soon, I hope). I was in the audience at the Toronto Literary Death Match, and picked up One Bird's Choice based solely on Iain's reading that night (which was not a piece from the book).
I didn't blog about it, but I read George Eliot for the first time this year (yeah, yeah). One of the things that surprised me, is how funny she can be. I almost never laugh out loud at media (though I often do with other people). Books, especially, I absorb more than I react to. I laughed reading George Eliot. And it was with surprise and joy that I laughed, not just chuckled, in several places reading One Bird's Choice. Reid's humour is equal parts silly and acerbic, much like my own, so the book and I had an easy relationship.
There's more going on, however, than just funny anecdotes about the strangeness of living with one's parents after years out of the house. Reid does make off-the-cuff mentions of his parents aging: the weird habits they've gotten into, their forgetfulness, their aging bodies. Given my own experiences with an aging parent, I kept expecting something awful to happen to one or both parents. Thankfully, nothing does. Reid doesn't really follow up with how he feels about these new versions of his parents, and it's the only thing I feel is missing from One Bird's Choice. Then again, I might be more sensitive to these matters. Or it's possible that really engaging with the feelings resulting from watching one's parents age would have changed the mood of the book too much. One Bird's Choice was clearly not meant to be a downer.
It's clear the time Reid spent with his parents has been wonderfully beneficial for him; the monetary necessity of his living situation has turned into a psychic and creative rejuvenation. He's been able to turn that into a good fun read, and just the antidote to all the heaviness I've been absorbing lately. (It also made me miss my Dad a lot.)
*Bloom. Holy. Shit. I'm not much of a poetry reader, so I'm not sure I can adequately comment on this book. But, good, yes, so good.
**Far to Go, which had language so beautiful, it made me gasp. To wit:
[A]fter the baby died she could not turn over in bed or her severed heart would fall out of her chest cavity. She lay on her back with her breast ripped open while the wolves bloodied their snouts in her grieving.Also, it was announced today that Alison is on the Booker longlist! Congrats!