Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus More

Sara Gruen was here on Thursday November 4, 2010 as a special event of the Writers Festival.  I was so excited when it was announced and then when the day finally arrived.  I LOVED her book Water for Elephants and I enjoyed her new book, Ape House.

The event itself only lasted about 45 minutes, which was a bit disappointing to me.  However, it was very interesting and informative.  Ms. Gruen started out by telling us how she got the idea for Ape House and the research it entailed.  Then she did a short reading and then answered audience questions.

She requested a visit to the Great Ape Trust in Iowa, where some Bonobo are kept.  She had to jump through hoops to be finally get permission including loads of reading, a visit to the linguistics department, and numourous immunizations.

Just like in the book, once she receives permission from the staff, she had to gain permission from the bonobos themselves.  She researched what they liked and loaded up back packs with their favoites including a Mr. Potato Head and M&M’s.  They invited her in immediately. 

Sara has visited them numerous times since then.  One time one of the bonobos invited her to tea and insisted on making the tea herself.  Three years after her first visit, one of the bonobos asked Sara for a new Mr. Potato Head the next time she was coming.  This just proved to Sara what a great memory they have.  As a gift, Sara enrolled the bonobos in the Fruit of the Month Club and they receive a box of seasonal fruit every month.

Unlike the book, the bonobos communicate using lexicons, rather than American Sign Language.  Sara used sign language because it worked into the plot better. 

I asked Sara how she came up with the idea for the reality show in Ape House.  She said that she wanted to capture the underbelly of the culture of society that will do anything to get in front of a camera.  

After the event Sara stayed to sign books and allowed me to get a photo taken of us together.

This concludes my coverage of the 23rd Vancouver International Writers and Readers Festival.  It has been a great time and I look forward to next year.  I want to give a special thanks to Judith Walker of the media department.  She made it possible for me to attend and cover all of the events!

Copyright 2007-2010: All the posts within this blog were originally posted by Teddy Rose and should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Well, I think you figured out from all of my posts, how much I LOVED the 23rd Vancouver International Writers & Readers Festival!  In case you missed any of my posts for the festival, the following are links to them all.  With in them, you will see linked to books and stories I reviewed, leading up to the festival.  Also, I am just finishing up a couple of the books by authors who were at the festival, so stay tuned for my reviews of those.  I also bought a couple books to read, how could I not?  Actually, I was inspired to read books by just about all the authors I saw at the festival.  It was a very dangerous place for a bookaholic!  LOL!

Although Sunday was the last day of the festival, the Vancouver Inbternational Writers & Readers Festival hosts special events throughout the year.  In fact, they are hosting author, Sara Gruen on November 4th, 2010.  Be sure not to miss this if you are going to be in Vancouver!  Please click on my reviews of both of her books,Water for Elephants and Ape House. 
I hope you enjoyed my coverage of the 23rd Vancouver International Writers & Readers Festival.  Here are the links to all of the posts I did during the festival:
Tuesday, October 19th:

 3 Views of Vietnam

This event included the authors Camilla Gibb, Karl Marlantes, and Adam Lewis Schroeder.

Wednesday, October 20th:

Suffer the Little Children

This event included the authors Emma Donoghue, Pascale Quiviger, Robert Wiersema, and Kathleen Winter.

Saturday, October 23rd:


The event included the authors Katherine Govier and David Mitchell.

Sunday, October 24th:

The Sunday Brunch

The event included the authors John Gould, Genni Gunn, David Mitchell, Wells, Tower, Kathleen Winter, and Tess Gallagher.

Short Stories, Varied Voices

Copyright 2007-2010: All the posts within this blog were originally posted by Teddy Rose and should not be reproduced without express written permission.
On Sunday, I attended my last event of the festival, Short Stories, Varied Voices.  There were four short story authors who participated; Ivan E. Coyote, Billie Livingston, Sarah Selecky, and Terence Young.

Ivan Coyote’s latest collection of short stories is ‘Missed Her.’  Here is a description, taken from the book:

Ivan E. Coyote is a master storyteller and performer; her beautiful, funny stories about growing up a lesbian butch in the Canadian north have attracted big audiences whether gay, straight, or otherwise. Missed Her is Ivan’s fifth story collection, following 2008’s Lambda-nominated The Slow Fix and Bow Grip, her novel that was named a Stonewall Honor Book by the American Library Association. Whether discussing the politics of being a butch with a pet lapdog or berating a gay newspaper for considering butches and trans people as “extreme,” Ivan traverses issues of gender and identity with a wistful, perceptive eye.

You can read my review of her novel,’ Bow Grip’, here.  Before she started reading, Ms. Coyote said about the head set she was wearing, “I don’t like Caucasian colour head sets, they remind me of Tom Cruise in Magnolias.  I was so disappointed that he was gay.”  The audience laughed.

Ivan stood up in front of the audience and read off a typed piece of paper.  She used excellent eye contact and gestures, it was a great performance.  I was so absorbed in her story and cared so much for her character that I cried.

Ivan told us that she swipes stories from people she talks to and conversations she hears.  She keeps pieces of paper and note books with her and jots stuff down.  Anything is fare game.  In fact, the story she read to us today was inspired by a conversation she had with a passenger sitting next to her on a air plane.  She told us that as she was getting off the plane, the woman said to another passenger, what a nice young man.”  Ivan didn’t correct her.  The audience laughed.

Terence Young’s new short story collection is ‘The End of the Ice Age’.  Look for my review of one of the stories in it tomorrow.  Here is a description of the collection, taken from the book:

Terence Young’s second collection of short fiction, The End of the Ice Age, brings together thirteen tales of hardscrabble characters in their lonely orbits. Young’s writing is unadorned and precise, yet witty and unsentimental, and of striking psychological precision. These are stories of unfulfilled expectations, of infidelities – of the body and the mind and conscience – and the small though ultimately meaningful victories that allow us to withstand those greater losses. This could be Carver territory or Dennis Johnson country if it was not so obviously Young’s own world: bleak and dark, though ultimately moving and memorable: these are stories which will linger with you for a long time.
Mr. Young said, “like Ivan, I steal stories shamelessly from other people.  If you’re from Halifax, this may be your story, I hope not.  Audience laughed and the he proceeded with reading. 
Billie Livingston’s latest short story collection is ‘Greedy Little Eyes’.  I reviewed one of the stories in it, here.  This is a description of the collection, taken from the book:

In Greedy Little Eyes, award-winning writer Billie Livingston explores the universal craving for connection, both emotional and physical. A Vintage Canada trade paperback original.

A young misfit is assaulted by a delusional homeless man and subsequently finds herself caught in the middle of two bullying cops who invite her to hit back; an impulsive and restless mother hungers for independence but wants company along the way; a middle-aged man who yearns for a life off the grid rejects his family and heads into the woods with a young bohemian while he slowly loses his mind; a journalist questions her scruples and complicity after she is invited to visit a friend in New York who is in the midst of an affair with a married man.
Fiercely independent, yet struggling to fit in, isolated but exploding with love and longing, Livingston’s characters whisper and roar as they wrestle with the notion of “normal.”

Ms. Livingston got right into her reading with little commentary.

Sarah Selecky’s latest book of short stories is ‘This Cake Is For the Party.”  Here’s a description, taken from the book:

Sarah Selecky’s first book takes dead aim at a young generation of men and women who often set out with the best of intentions, only to have plans thwarted or hopes betrayed.

These are stories about friendships and relationships confused by unsettling tensions bubbling beneath the surface. A woman who plans to conceive ends up in the arms of her husband’s best friend; a man who baby-sits a neglected four-year-old ends up questioning his own dysfunctional relationship; a chance encounter at a gala event causes a woman to remember when she volunteered for a nightmarish drug-testing clinic; another woman discovers that her best friend who is about to get married has just had an affair; a young teenager tries to escape from her controlling father and finds an unexpected lover on a bus ride home; a wife tries to overcome her dying mother-in-law’s resistance to her marriage by revealing to her own strange aural stigmata; a friend tries to talk another friend out of dating her cheating ex-boyfriend; and a superstitious candle-maker confesses to a tempestuous relationship that implodes spectacularly.

Sarah Selecky is a talented young writer who evokes a generation teetering on the shoals of consumerism and ambiguous mores. Reminiscent of early Atwood, with echoes of Lisa Moore and Barbara Gowdy, these absorbing stories are about love and longing, stories that touch us in a myriad of subtle and affecting ways.

You can read my review of one of her stories in the collection, here.  Sarah also got right into her reading with little commentary.  Sarah had to leave right after the event, so I wasn’t able to get a photograph of her.

After all of the readings, there were questions from both the host and audience.

Question: “What is the most important way you gather information for your writing?”

Billie Livingston said, “eavesdropping and swiping it.”  The audience Laughed.

Terence Young said, “deep noticing” also “looking very close to get the real story, rather than cliché.”

Sarah Selecky said, “be receptive enough to notice.”

Ivan Coyote said, “I also think that it is honouring and empathising.  Honouring youth, wisdom, and hard work of people.”

Question:”Do you write stories to topics that you emotionally committed to?”

Ivan, “yes, such as teen suicide, how can you not care about it and not write about it?”

Question: “What is the most valuable advice that you have?”

Billie, “A.I.C., ass in chair.”  Audience laughed.

Sarah, “you’ll never know if it’s any good, yourself.”  She also said that she wrote a letter to an author that she likes and the author responded and offered to read her work.  “It felt like I was given permission to write.”  She said that if you do write to an author, don’t send them your manuscript and ask them to read it.

I asked Ivan a question about her novel, ‘Bow Grip.”  “Was Joseph someone you knew or did you totally make him up?”

Ivan, “Joseph and his family represents the blue collar family.  I’m tired of blue color families being portrayed as being stupid.”  “I’m interested in if this is an honest story, as opposed to if it is a true story.”

Question: “How did you feel with family reactions to your writing?”

Billie said that her mother said to her, “this never happened.”

Billie replied to her mother, “because it’s a story.” Audience laughed.

Ivan said to her family, “keep it up and it’s going to be something I will write about.”  Audience laughed.

Stay tuned for my rap-up post for  this fabulous festival. 
Copyright 2007-2010: All the posts within this blog were originally posted by Teddy Rose and should not be reproduced without express written permission.