Sometime you go to an event because you have to, sometimes you go to an event because there’s nothing else going on, and sometimes you go to an event because you really want to as was the case for me to day with Stories Cities Tell featuring Gail Jones, Marcello Di Cintio, Pasha Malla, and Joe Monero. And no, I won’t ever say what events fall into the other two categories.
The WordFest official festival guide tells us that at the event “each author offers a new lens for viewing real or fictional landscapes to reveal how their characters relate to the city and how the city speaks to them.” And that is what it was, but I found it to be four authors discussing cities, why they like them, why they like writing about them, and how they go about doing so.
This is the perfect event for me, as I am a city type of guy. Given my druthers, I’d rather spend a vacation in a city than at a cottage, and when I go to Hawai’i, I prefer Honolulu to the other islands. I just find cities more exciting, as there are people everywhere, and a hell of a lot more things to do.
And I never feel the need to get away from cities. I hear people say they like going to the mountains where they can get away from the news, or their cell phones, or other people. Myself, I love the news, I love my cell phone, and I love other people. Getting away from these things and getting close to things I don’t, like mosquitoes, strange woodsmen, and grocery stores that close at 8:00PM, doesn’t really appeal to me.
But I digress, what excited me about this event was the chance to see how cities, where most people live, can influence great writers, and play such a pivotal role in a book or story.
After each author read from their latest book, a discussion about the role of cities in literature was led by Patrick Finn. They talked of how cities can lead to so many different stories and scenarios, and how their ever changing landscapes can be explored over and over again by different authors, without being repetitive. I think this is a big appeal of cities in fiction, as it there is basically an endless supply of stories.
The fact that the authors hailed from cities all over the world, only added to the discussion. Gail Jones’ latest book is about a community in Sydney, Australia, while Joe Monero writes about his native Chicago. Pasha Alla’s novel, People Park is set in a fictional city, Marcello Di Cintio writes about a variety of cities he’s visited over the years.
Now it’s over to the Vertigo, where I again take the role of Alex P. Keaton, trying to see two events at the same time. In the Vertigo Theatre will be Mayor Nenshi talking with John Ralston Saul about politics, writing and philanthropy, while next door in the Studio is International Intrigue with Santiago Gamboa, F.G. Haghenbeck, Steven Heighton and Anne Perry, sharing their different approaches to the macabre. Back and forth, back and forth.