Whenever I’m writing, I always worry that the reader won’t get my intended tone. Or rather, I won’t be able to convey that tone in my writing (see how I tried to blame the reader instead of myself?). I often find it difficult to get some of the more subtle inflections to come across. And for that matter, when the roles are reversed, am I reading the emotion the author had intended?
Until today, I must admit, I had never attended a reading before. Never had I been at an event where an author walked onto the stage, pulled out their book, and began reading a passage. But this is one of the great parts of my involvement with WordFest this year, the new experiences I am having. As I like to say, my education continues.
At the Art Gallery of Calgary today, I watched Tim Bowling, Ian Williams, Linda Grant, and Lev Grossman read from their latest books, at an event entitled, ‘Writers and Their Collections.” Each spoke of the importance of libraries and literary collections and how they influenced not only their writing careers but also their lives.
While each of them was reading, I had a thought in the back of the mind, that I can be positive I am hearing the book exactly as the author had intended. At least I don’t think any of them would interpret their own work in a way other than they themselves would have intended. Wouldn’t that be some kind of paradox? Or perhaps a Catch-22. They would read the book as it was meant to be read. They understand what they were trying to say. I guess when anybody other than the author is reading a book, they are sort of like a cover band. It’s more or less the same, but the little difference make it quite distinct from the original.
Besides reading, each author also shared with the audience, a book, if they could pick only one, that they would read over and over, as their ‘go to material.’ I was happy to hear both Brideshead Revisited and The Great Gatsby mentioned, as both would be included amongst my favorite reads.
This event was also my first chance to talk with Lev Grossman, author of The Magician King and literary critic for Time Magazine. For the past two years I have been reading and blogging my way through Time’s 2006 list of 100 All Time novels. Lev was one of the two people to compile the list, and now I have a chance to talk with him about what novels he would have like to have seen included, and more importantly, which ones he wished had been excluded. Perhaps that discussion can take place at the After Party – Wednesday edition, later tonight.
Don’t forget to follow the Official WordFest hashtag on twitter, #wordfest2011