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Birrell, Heather

Drowning Doesn’t Look Like Drowning

It’s been a while since I’ve last read, for reasons whose details I won’t serenade you with, but which have to do with huge, overwhelming, life-changing projects that ultimately will leave me with more time to do this more often (I’ll need a little luck, if you want to drop some in the mail), but which, at the moment, have me submerged and often feeling not unlike drowning (or what I imagine drowning is not-unlike. I’ve never actually drowned.)

Then I received an email from Evan Munday at Toronto’s Coach House Books, asking if I had interest in reading from Heather Birrell’s latest collection. Let me assure you now that a response of “WOULD I‽” does not come across to full effect in email if not accompanied by a look of wide-eyed promise and a rare display of teeth (even with the interrobang). Some of you might remember my enthusiasm at reading Birrell’s Trouble at Pow Crash Creek (from I Know You Are But What Am I? a couple of years ago. I promise you that the new collection, Mad Hope, is, impossibly, even more beautifully wrought, more intellectually finely tuned, and more gut-wrenching. You’ll see what I mean when you listen.

(Thanks Evan and Coach House for the book. Thanks Heather for the collection. Lest you think this is shilly, I was under no obligation whatsoever to read from the collection. Like most makers of book-derived things on the Internet, publishers send me books all the time, which I often read and sometimes like, but which are rarely suited for the little sanctum I’ve got here. Happy weekend!)

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Categories
Birrell, Heather

Trouble at Pow Crash Creek

It’s probably one of the better things in life — right up there with creative breakthroughs and lasting love and the slurp of streetside oysters — to have one’s hat tipped to new and great authors. In my case, it doesn’t happen often, because I’m finicky and discriminating with my own tastes, or as others have said, snotty. Some of my closest friends, in fact, have sworn never again to share enthusiasm of their own discoveries, for fear of my response. I’m not proud of this.

So, several months ago, I may or may not have been at a certain big bookish event, and I may or may not have chatted briefly with a representative of an independent publisher known for foresightedness and inventiveness and openmindedness and other qualities sometimes surprising of publishing types. And during this chat, that may or may not have happened, the publisher may have mentioned an author in her catalogue that may (or may not) gel with my very fussy and finicky tastes, and later, I may or may not have gotten my sticky mitts on an illicit copy of that author’s book of short stories.

And it’s hard to say whether or not any of this actually happened, or whether or not this story is related to that anecdote. I mean, it was several months ago, and we all know what happens to memory. But however I may have come across tonight’s author, when I did it was not unlike experiencing a breakthrough while slurping an oyster on the street with one’s lasting love.

If we’re lucky, you’ll feel the same.

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