The Luminato Gala Reading

26 Jun

YYZ writers are also voracious readers. We read as a group. We read when we’re apart. When I read a good book, I impose it on those around me. What do you mean you’ve never read “Freedom”?!?! It will change your life. TAKE MY COPY!! We like literary evenings like the Luminato Gala Reading last week.  Initially, I circulated the info about the event because one of the authors who was to read would be Lisa Moore (a great Canadian East Coast writer) and we each liked/ hated February in equal parts.

I didn’t really pay attention to who else was on the billing.

Lisa read first. One of the major criticisms of Moore’s work by our book club was the disjointed rhythm of her prose. Imagine riding in a car with a new driver who keeps slamming on the breaks. I, the contrarian that I am, interpreted her manner of writing as singular for the purposes of the novel. It seemed to fit with a story based on sudden loss and the process of grieving. I was wrong. Moore’s reading suggests that the cadence of her writing is how it plays out in her head all of the time. She lost her place on several occasions. She was always out of breath. It was unpleasant. To be sure, writers are insular beings and a public forum like that of a reading can be jarring. However, for a seasoned writer such as Moore, you’d think she would have cultivated a public reading face/ persona for such occasions. It was a forgettable experience.

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We were tickled, however, by 2/4 authors at the reading: Sheila Heti (a Canadian!) as well as Claire Messud. We’ll gush about Heti another time because she’s just so clever and funny.

Messud’s latest work The Woman Upstairs had come across my radar a couple of months ago as I surveyed book reviews for summer reads. I added it to/ removed it from my Wish List several times. It became a permanent fixture when I read that Lionel Shriver loved the book (“the prose is impeccable”).

Messud’s reading was the polar opposite of Moore’s. Where Moore seemed fearful/ hesitant of her own words, Messud displayed strength and confidence. She seemed playful. She conveyed a sense of intelligence and wit in her work and personality that made us all turn to one another and agree, with only a look, that The Woman Upstairs would be our August book club pick.

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