Monday, September 19, 2005


Greta Garbo was 100 years old yesterday. Happy belated birthday, Greta. Let’s all celebrate by reading Rachel Gallagher’s The Girl Who Loved Garbo.

It was Rachel who recommended that I read The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova. I’m not sure yet whether to thank her for that. It’s not that I’m not enjoying the book—I am—but that it's LONG (642 pages), and it takes concentration on the reader’s part to keep the various voices straight. Or is it only this reader? It was a good recommendation because the book is about vampires or, rather, a long, long search for vampires, one of my favorite topics, and because Kostova has chosen to use multiple narrators, a story-within-a-story-within-a-story, and to have each of them speak in first person. Since I’ve been struggling to write my second novel with two narrators speaking in first person, seeing how Kostova does it with a larger cast and a more complicated plot, as well as many different combinations of time periods and places, makes my task seem much simpler than it did. Kostova would laugh at how elementary a task I’ve set myself. HA!

I am awash in books, have books cascading off every horizontal surface in my apartment, all books in the queue waiting to be read. I just finished reading Anne Fleming’s Anomaly, so I can move that one to a shelf. Having missed Anne’s launch party at Crush on Granville Street, I’ll have to wait to tell her how much I enjoyed her book. I’m reading Kostova’s The Historian now, as I said. Then there’s Lydia Kwa’s new novel (her second novel) The Walking Boy, the story that, according to Lydia, came to her in a dream. Lydia had a good turnout at her launch party last Wednesday at Fireside Books in Vancouver. Lydia’s reading during the party put The Walking Boy next in line, right after page 642 of The Historian. If you’re in the Vancouver area: Lydia Kwa has another reading coming up, this one on Friday, 23 September, from 3:00 to 4:00 p.m. at the Sun Yat Sen Gardens.

I have to get reading because next month’s Vancouver International Writers Festival will bring another influx of books into my living space. Tickets went on sale to the public today. Margaret Atwood is giving the Bill Duthie Memorial Lecture on 13 October at the Chan Center at UBC. Margaret Atwood! Alice Munro is wrapping up the festival at The Grand Finale, on 23 October. Alice Munro! In between are readings and panels and discussions involving an international group of writers including Shani Mootoo, Lydia Kwa, Anne Fleming, Ivan E. Coyote, Emily Pohl-Weary, Sheri-D Wilson, Simon Winchester, William Gibson, Spider Robinson, Jane Urquhart… well, you get the idea. For details, see

And what am I supposed to be doing? Instead of reading? WRITING MY SECOND NOVEL.


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