a confession: I don’t like doing readings. No matter the venue — a few kind people in a small bookstore, or a big crowd in a fancy auditorium, no matter how genial the people there, it just always feels… not quite right.
The only place where I don’t mind reading very much is at our own independent bookseller here in town. I know many of the people who come and the owners and the booksellers and it just doesn’t feel like such a big deal; it’s just me, and them, and a half hour of noise. They ask questions and laugh at my answers. I sign books and set off for home, ten minutes later I’m there.
another confession: I’m not even comfortable going to somebody else’s reading. I only go very rarely, if it’s a close friend who’s reading. In fact, the more I’m interested in the author’s work, the less likely I am to go listen to him/her read. It feels too awkward. Should I go up afterwards and get my book signed? Do I identify myself, if this is somebody I’ve had some indirect contact with? Will that feel intrusive? A word of praise, perhaps? No, that would be condescending. So I generally stay away, although I’m often tempted.
Guy Vanderhaeghe (what a great name) will be here soon to read from his new novel The Last Crossing. I do intend to read the novel — it’s historical, after all. Will I attend the reading? Probably not. I’ll let you know.
One other thing about this particular novel. It was recently named the 2004 Canada Reads winner, a very big deal up there, as you can see here. This is how they chose it:
During this year’s competition, broadcast over the [..] five days on CBC Radio and CBC TV, five panellists each championed a work of Canadian fiction as the one that all Canadians should read.
Hard to imagine something on this scale on this side of the divide, though Homestead once was chosen by Orcas Island in the San Juans as an all-island read. People ran around with pins on that said “I’ve read Homestead. Have you?” That was fun, I’ll admit. Though I still disliked doing the reading.