With only a few days until the start of WordFest 2012, I’ve been spending a lot of time pouring over the festival guide and the upcoming line up. Since I’ve only read a handful of the authors attending, I don’t really have much to go on when trying to figure out who I’d like to see.
Sure, I talk to people, read up on other appearances and their works, but it’s never as eye-opening as reading their book. So when I go through the festival guide and put check marks next to authors I want to see, I’m really just making random guesses in a lot of cases. But it also got me thinking about which author, that isn’t attending (or can’t attend because they’re dead), I’d like to see speak at WordFest.
I figure there are two reasons why I’d like to see a particular author; either I love their books or they happen to be a fascinating person. Of course they could also be both, which is why I think I’d like to see Ernest Hemingway at WordFest. The mere thought of seeing Papa read from A Farewell to Arms and then discuss his time in the Italian Army instantly brings a smile to my face.
I recently asked this same question to everybody down at the WordFest offices to see what the people who run the festival were thinking. Of course I’m sure they all would have answered ‘everybody who is coming this year,” had I not added the caveat of “those not attending,” as well as throwing it open to authors both dead or alive.
Even with only ten or so answers, it is amazing what variety you can get to a question like this. Not surprisingly there were a couple of literary heavyweights who likely cross everybody’s minds when trying to answer, with William Shakespeare and Charles Dickens. I’m guessing the first question from the audience for the Bard would be “Are you the 17th Earl of Oxford?”
Other deceased authors offered up were Rene Barjavel, TS Eliot, Raymond Carver, and Kurt Vonnegut. Those who know me, know I’d be likely to ask Vonnegut what Rodney Dangerfield was like while filming “Back to School,” instead of discussing Slaughterhouse-Five. But can you blame me, how many authors have been in a movie with somebody who was in “Caddyshack?” One. That’s how many.
One anonymous staffer didn’t pick Michael Ondaatje for her answer, but she did name him her favourite author of all-time, and added, while swooning, “I love him!!” But that’s just between you and me, and I trust all of you not to mention to Linda Spalding, while she reads at the Friday Night Showcase and the Saturday Sampler, that a certain WordFest staff member, with a passion for donuts, is in love with her husband.
I was going to say that it is hard to argue with anybody’s selection, but that would be silly, as this isn’t meant to incite an argument, only to foster discussion. It’s interesting to hear why people would like to see these different authors, and fun to think about what they might discuss while on stage. Having said that, I am tempted to argue with Anne’s selection of Virginia Woolf, who Anne loves and I…don’t. Sure, it would be a chance to ask her why she chose to kill herself by filling her pockets with rocks and walking into a river when they are so many less awkward methods, but instead I’m going to stop in at Book Rapport on Thursday morning to hear Kyo Maclear talk about her children’s book, Virginia Wolf.
What authors, not attending this year, would you like to see at WordFest? Tweet your picks using #wordfest2012, and see what others are saying!