Just back from the Word on the Street book fair in Saskatoon. It was a terrific visit. The fair, in just its third year, is very much together already. I was interviewed on stage by the generous man and fine author (yes, people can be both) Arthur Slade. Had drinks and dinners with fellow authors, walked the riverside in glorious end-of-summer sunshine, signed books for lots of readers and chatted with them. What’s not to enjoy?
One reader/volunteer threw me with a question after the on-stage event. ‘Why didn’t you talk more about Ysabel? That’s my favourite.’
People can move you and disconcert you simultaneously. I could have said, ‘Meet me halfway: ask about it!’ (There was a Q&A at the end.) But in fact I was touched and didn’t feel like joking. One of the things I have always liked is how it every one of the books is a favourite of some readers. Ysabel is tricky to talk about, actually. Need to avoid a major spoiler, and it requires some unpacking of my usual process to discuss how it is a mirror-image of many of the books that frame it. Instead of taking readers into a period of history, I brought the past into today, which allowed me to comment on some themes of history. (The different meaning of being ‘young’ through time, for example, or landscape, beauty, and violence.)
Here’s a picture Art had taken late on Sunday afternoon, of himself (on the right), me, and Yann Martel (author of Life of Pi, of course):
News arrived regarding French editions. L’Atalante, my publisher over there, announced that Under Heaven will be published next summer, and Alire, who publish me in Quebec sent a copy of Quebec’s Book Club’s handsome edition of that book (I’ll upload an image when I get a jpeg). Elisabeth Vonarburg is to translate River of Stars for them, which makes me very happy. She’s a friend, a gifted author, and has done most of my work.
Various discussions in L.A. continue, but I still can’t relay any ‘real’ information. It is a bizarre place, you know. You do know that, don’t you?
Tomorrow I’m off to Italy for a short trip. Partly a fall getaway, but some work involved. I plan to get to Torcello in Venice’s lagoon, to see the mosaics there and lunch at the inn/restaurant where Hemingway hid in 1948 to write Across the River and Into the Trees.