“If we, citizens, do not support our artists, then we sacrifice our imagination on the altar of crude reality and we end up believing in nothing and having worthless dreams.”

- Yann Martel, Self

The magnolia is in full, rapturous bloom, three weeks earlier than it started last year. Yesterday I pulled into the driveway only to have a gaggle of university students withdraw their noses from the froth of blossoms and try to slink off, but I wouldn’t have any of it: I invited them to continue their enjoyment. One of the scruffier-looking lads, in ripped jeans and bearing four days’ worth of chin stubble, confessed that they’d walked out of their way to have their magnolia fix. Well, I was thrilled.

I was also thrilled to have the pleasure of attending Yann Martel’s Halifax reading from his new novel, Beatrice and Virgil. I always enjoy listening to authors reading their own work; everyone has a different way of interpreting and emphasizing their words, which makes it a special occasion. The Q&A following the reading was fascinating, as one whip-smart English major after another brought interesting (if lengthy) questions to the floor. That Martel is a thoughtful writer as well as an instinctive one came through in his answers, which took us on interesting tangents with his observations. For example, when asked about his use of animals as principal characters, he made the observation that we’re cynical of our own species, callous of human suffering, yet when faced with an injured animal, we can’t tolerate it.

It was a stimulating, nay, thrilling evening. A great moment occurred when my friend and I were at the book sale table: While Friend was examining the illustrated edition of Life of Pi, two women clutching books to their chests approached him and asked shyly if he was, in fact, Yann Martel. My friend kept his composure and admitted that he was not, but he graciously offered to sign their books anyway. Lovely.

(Apropos of nothing in particular, I found this quite interesting.)

Events this week:

~ I’ll be reading on Tuesday, April 13 at 7:00 pm, Cole Harbour Public Library

~ I’ll be reading on Wednesday, April 14 at 2:00 pm, Northwood Centre, Halifax

~ Wednesday, April 14, 7:00 pm, Alderney Landing, Dartmouth: Atlantic Book Awards

Categories: General.