Last night I went to hear Andre Alexis, Anthony de Sa and Steven Galloway read as (a late) part of the Ottawa Writersfest. Three quite different works in voice and tone (all great, all purchase worthy, although I could only bring myself to drop the cash for one hardcover… Sorry, guys), but all, as organizer Sean Wilson said, with a common theme of “home”. Which anyone who knows me well might know is something that comes up again and again in the stuff I write.

In the post-reading discussion, Alexis said something I responded to deeply: he said he reads “for company,” and writes for the same reason. This resonated with me. I may be misinterpreting/mangling what he said, but I understood it as meaning he reads for companionship. I think this is the reason my most-loved books are those featuring “real people” characters – Jhumpa Lahiri’s work; Alexis’ character Walter in the piece he read last night. (Oh, yeah, and immigrants or lost/displaced people, evidently.) I don’t do so well with magical realism; I can’t connect.

The importance of being deeply observant and aware as a writer, of finding ways to portray the world, was also discussed, which rang familiar. A good night.

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