I spent part of last weekend at the Windsor (Ontario) Book Festival. From my room on the 19th floor of the Riverside Inn I had a view of a weirdly Oz-like Detroit shining across the St. Clair River:
One of the wonderful things about this fall's Endless O'Briens Book Tour has been the chance to spend time with my old teacher and mentor, the short story writer Clark Blaise, who has a new collection The Meagre Tarmac out this fall. Clark and I have been on the circuit together over the last few weeks: Calgary, Vancouver, Windsor...
Meagre Tarmac was on the Scotiabank Giller Prize longlist, and is shortlisted for the Rogers Writers Trust Prize. Reviews have been excellent--more are anticipated as the book reaches the U.S, market--and it is wonderful to see this man, a classic example of a "writer's writer", getting the wider attention and acclaim his work deserves.
BTW I wrote the introduction to Clark's collected Montreal Stories, and that book is an excellent introduction to the work.
At the Windsor Book Festival last Saturday night I read with the great short story writer (The Lost Salt Gift of Blood; As Birds Bring Forth the Sun) and novelist (No Great Mischief) Alistair MacLeod, and that was an enormous honour. Alistair was a generous teacher when I met him at the Banff Centre, thirty years ago.
From Thonmas Mallon's review of No Great Mischief in the NY Times a few years back:
month ago, the fiction of Alistair MacLeod was entirely unknown to me. The 64-year-old Canadian writer has published just three books, and ''No Great Mischief,'' his only novel, is the first of them to be widely available in the United States. Having spent the last few weeks reading, in avid succession, volumes that his Canadian devotees have been given after long intervals of anticipation, I can report that MacLeod's world of Cape Breton -- with its Scottish fishermen and their displaced heirs, the miners and young professionals it has mournfully sent to the rest of the nation -- has become a permanent part of my own inner library.
My favorite Blaise short story? There are a bunch, but one that always comes to mind: I'm Dreaming of Rocket Richard, partly because it woke me up to the possibility of writing about my hometown, Mo/ray/al. (In my introduction I wrote that Rocket Richard always pairs in my mind with Truffaut's 400 Blows.)
My favorite MacLeod story? A toss up between Vision and The Closing Down of Summer, which I first heard Alistair read at Banff, in 1981.
It was such a beautiful day at Windsor. Guys were fishing (pickerel and perch) in the St. Clair; big bulk carriers were steaming by heading for Lake Huron, leaving big, splashy waves to bang up against the river shore....and gleaming Detroit looked like anything but a rust-belt town.
Speaking of the Endlessness of The O'Briens Book Tour: we're starting to schedule events around the time of the US publication in March 2012. Right now, it looks like readings, book signing, talks, and slide shows in New York City, Maine, Vermont, Texas, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and California. Details will be going up on the website events calendar over the next few days. I've just received an ARC of the US edition from Pantheon, and it looks great.
- Brooklin, Maine, United States
- We own a 1975 GMC Sierra Grande 15 in Maine and a 1986 Chevrolet Custom Deluxe 10 in West Texas. Also a pair of 1997 Volvo 850 wagons. Average age in the fleet is 28 years--we're recycling. I've published 3 novels: THE LAW OF DREAMS (2006), THE O'BRIENS (2012), and CARRY ME (2016). Also 2 short story collections: NIGHT DRIVING(1987) and TRAVELLING LIGHT (2013). More of my literary life is at www.peterbehrens.org I was a Fellow at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study for 2012-13. I'm an adjunct professor at Colorado College and in the MFA program at Queens University of Charlotte. In 2015-16 I was a Fellow at Harvard University's Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. The Autoliterate office is in Car Talk Plaza in Harvard Square, 2 floors above Dewey Cheatem & Howe. SUBSCRIBE TO THE AUTOLITERATE DAILY EMAIL by hitting the button to the right.