We had an enthusiastic crowd who didn’t seem to mind my pre-screening natter – I talked a bit about Buster Keaton’s early life in vaudeville, his enormous contribution to film comedy in the 1920s, and of course the work he did in the 1960s with the National Film Board of Canada on their documentary, The Railrodder. For me the best part of the evening was listening to the gales of laughter as we watched both The Railrodder and Buster Keaton Rides Again.
Afterwards all sorts of people told me it was their first time seeing Buster in action, and how much they enjoyed it. This sort of response has been one of the most rewarding things about my past three years of research: witnessing people’s delight as they discover Keaton’s movies and his comedy.
The unexpected is to be expected when making a book with the attention to craftsmanship that Gaspereau Press employs – handmade paper and wood engravings and such. Nevertheless, my novel was ready for the reading, just in the nick of time. Only minutes before the event began, we were introduced for the first time. As my publisher placed a copy in my hands he said quietly:
“Yesterday, there was no book. Today there is. And here it is.”
It was a lovely moment, one I’ll not soon forget.
(Photo: Al Payzant)