Launch of The Lighkeeper's Daughters

Launch of The Lighkeeper's Daughters
by Jean Pendziwol

Elvis the Mountie Dog Steals the Show at the Book Signing

Elvis the Mountie Dog Steals the Show at the Book Signing
Elvis, Joan M. Baril, customer poet Rob Lem

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Reading, Writing and Travelling

Richard B. Wright

In a recent interview, Per Petterson, the famous Norwegian novelist, admitted he took 17 years to write one short story. I sympathize. It has taken me several days to write a rough outline of my next story and I still do not have a first sentence.

But meanwhile I read.  Just back from a trip to Helsinki, St. Petersburg and Warsaw, I tried to adjust my books to my place.  Before I left for Finland I picked up  the comic novel, A Day in Ostrobothnia by Antti Tuuri at the local Finnish Book Store.  It's a wonderful tale, sharp as an arrow,  about a group of hapless brothers, the Finnish equivalent of the Trailer Park Boys. 

Then in St. Petersburg, I read Chekhov, one of my favourite writers and the master of the short story.  Eudora Welty said reading Chekhov was "like angels singing." How true. I fell in love with the story with the odd name,"Anna on the Neck" and read it at least three times.  I was surprised and pleased to find that all three cities have English book stores. In St. Petersburg,  I was able to pick up a compilation of mostly unfamiliar Chekhov stories although The Lady with the Little Dog seems to be in every collection and why not?  it is a masterful story. 

I introduced myself to  Pushkin and wondered why I had never read him before.  I started with his masterpiece "The Queen of Spades," a strange and mysterious tale which Tchaikovsky made into an opera,  and then hurried through the remaining stories.  Pushkin's home, now a museum, was a block from my hotel.  As I wandered the early 19th century rooms, I listened to the audio commentary and became so affected by the  young writer's death in a duel that I started to cry.  Immediately two Russian women museum workers rushed over to pat my shoulder.  Perhaps tears are a common response to an event still tragic after 200 years.

In Warsaw, I read a rather sentimental autobiography by Marie Curie purchased  at the Curie museum.  Then I filled the remaining time with books from the American Book Store, LeCarre's Our Game, (in my opinion one of his best) and Steig Larson's Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (well plotted but full of sexual violence.)  Then, perhaps for the fifth time, I read James Joyce's The Dead.  I still do not completely understand this story but I love it just the same.

Now back home, I'm immersed in Can Lit.  Jane Urquhart's Sanctuary Line, a 2010 Giller Prize nominee, is a meditative book, a portrait of a family and its flawed hero. The narrative slowly builds to a shocking climax.  Deceptively simple, this novel has layers and depth.

 Richard B. Wright has a winner with Mr. Shakespeare's Bastard, a dandy historical, full of lively detail.  The novel effortlessly transported me to the 16th century and  I never wanted to leave.   Wright is particularly good with his female characters as he was in his previous best seller, Clara Callon
Anton Chekhov
 

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