My first event today was a lunch time affair, at the Art Gallery of Calgary, for Cures for Hunger with Deni Bechard, reading from his book…Cures for Hunger. (They weren’t kidding.)
To begin, I love the Art Gallery of Calgary as a venue for WordFest. The room is small and intimate, microphones aren’t necessary, and it’s cool to be seeing nice art work when listening to somebody read, instead of acoustic paneling or a world map from 1961, as was the case in my junior high social studies classes. The art serves the same function as the vistas one sees at The Banff Centre; it’s relaxing and makes the event that much more enjoyable.
I was excited to hear Deni talk about his book, having read it and enjoyed it. And it turns out, as host Sherry Youngblood polled the audience as the beginning of the event, that I was the only one who had read the book. To be fair there were a lot of high school students in attendance and this wouldn’t necessarily be a book they’d pick up, but it still meant that I had a special bond with the presenter, which nobody else in the room did.
Deni read from his book, a few different passages from different stages of the story, and talked about the influences they had on him growing up, and how is perception of his father changed as he grew older. When first finding out about his father’s nefarious past at age 14, he described himself as ‘elated’ and ‘proud;’ nobody else’s father had committed crimes like robbing a bank. He even hoped that his father had done worse, thinking it possible that his dad could be a ‘total bad-ass, like Al Capone meets Billy the Kid.’ But as he grew older, and began to see more of the world, he realized his father wasn’t a hero. Quite poignantly, he pointed out that criminals tend to be the “least interesting, least motivated, and least interesting people in the world.”
Sitting in the back of the room, it was interesting to these high school students’ reaction to the reading. I’m sure that many, if not all, we’re thinking they would be bored by such an event, and after a couple of minutes of reading you could see their attention waning. But it was always at this time, that Deni’s talk would involve a story of robbery, perhaps an f-bomb, or some other tale of intrigue that always gets the attention of teens. They laughed, they asked questions, and for the most part seemed generally interested in the proceedings.
This all makes sense of course, and this was the perfect book for this age group, and a perfect event for them to attend. Not only was it a book they’d be interested in, but it was also an event that provided them with an intimate enough venue to feel comfortable, and a presenter in Deni Bechard, who probably feels a lot more approachable than, say, Agatha Christie might. One can only hope some of them end up reading Cures for Hunger, and kick start their literary journey that takes them beyond Twilight.
My next event will be Name Your Sources, at 5:00PM, also featuring Deni Bechard, as well as fellow blogger Julie Wilson, Russel Wangersky, and Rachel Wyatt.