Home… and away

It is a challenge to do proper Journal posts on the road, though it is a part of the whole idea of the journal, so I shouldn’t wimp out right?

Yesterday was a complex day. On the local level, a snowstorm hit here in Winnipeg. I joked on tv and radio interviews it was clearly a ‘welcome home’ message for me, and I was duly appreciative.

Midway through a day careening about town in snow with Rorie Bruce, publicist here, we learned at CBC radio, waiting to do an interview, about the Boston bombing. I ended up making reference to it at the outset of my booktalk at the splendid McNally Robinson event last night. Would have felt wrong not to. I made that my (small) point: how the larger events of the world are, and always have been, backdrops to the traumas and joys of our own lives. In the Sarantium books I am probably most explicit about this in my writing, The death of an emperor less important to the couple having their first child, or the farm family that loses a crucial labourer to a broken leg just before harvest time.

The evening itself was warm and even nurturing, which is part of returning home sometimes – if we are lucky. I talked for awhile about the underlying motifs of the two main characters in the novel, then read from chapter two, introducing Shan, the female protagonist. There was a really good-sized crowd for what turned out to be a mild enough night after a miserable day.

Really good reviews and some further interviews are continuing to pop up online. One thing I like: it actually looks as if some reviewers are trying to raise their own language game as they address River of Stars. I feel touched by that, too, to be honest. But I want to write something sometime about book reviewers who describe a story then add or discuss language separately. For me, the way I write a book, the language used, is completely part of the story you are hearing, or reading. It isn’t icing on top of some cake. And that applies to how I read other writers, too.

Vancouver, later today. Am assuming (relying upon?) better weather. Event is tomorrow night, reading in tandem with Ruth Ozeki, at the main library. Free tickets needed, same as was the case in Toronto. That’s a library thing, it seems.

One thought on “Home… and away

  1. Thanks very much for “River of Stars” which I enjoyed immensely, and which (as is my wont) I read quickly first time through for story and theme. In a month or so I’ll re-read it more slowly for the language – and that brings me to your interesting comment about language. David Lodge make the same point in his book “The Language of Fiction” where (if I remember rightly) he notes that we spend longer reading the first 50 pages, or so, of a novel because we are learning the author’s language. We read more quickly as we go on because we have internalized the various (to use “rock” terminology) “riffs” and “licks” that make up an author’s prose style. That reminds me of an interview that I once read where Eric Clapton, on being asked about his various influences, said that when he listened to himself playing he could hear bits of Buddy Guy and BB King. The parts joining them, which he didn’t recognise, were, he supposed, his own. Do you recognise influences on your own style in a similar way, and if so, what would they be?

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