The final day of WordFest 2012 has now passed, and with it another festival is in the books. As with any annual event, there’s always a mix of emotions when it ends. For the team that puts WordFest together, there’s relief that everything is finally over for another year, but also a sense of satisfaction that it was such a success. For those attending, the fun of meeting authors, talking with other readers, and hearing about new books will have to be off until October 2013. Or at least until October 25, 2012, when Alexander McCall Smith visits Calgary!
The final day treated us to three events in the Kinnear Centre, overlooking the beautiful Bow Valley. Leading off was The Ties That Bind with Shree Ghatage, Simonetta Agnello Hornby, Vincent Lam, Kyo Maclear, and J. Jill Robinson. There was some good discussion following each author’s reading, but unfortunately with so many authors and so little time, we didn’t get through enough questions.
Following a quick trip to the dining centre for lunch, it was back to the Kinnear Centre to see Life Interrupted with Marjorie Celona, Vaddey Ratner, and Russell Wangersky. I must say, this even featured one of the most emotional readings I’ve ever seen at a WordFest event. Dealing with the difficult subject of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia in the 1970’s (something Ms. Rathner liver through herself), her book In the Shadow of the Banyan is by all accounts quite a heart-wrenching read. While reading, Vaddey began to tear up, and wasn’t alone either, as many in the audience seemed to get “something in their eye” all at the same time.
WordFest 2012 concluded with Worldly Words with Billie Livingston, Susan Swan, Gail Jones, and Mohammed Hanif. As I experienced last year, there’s almost a feeling of a let down during the final event, as you realize that there aren’t any more events to attend afterward. Much like the final day of a vacation, where you’re enjoying yourself, but in the back of your mind you realize that tomorrow will not be vacation!
I had a couple of observations from Sunday, having basically attended three events in quick succession. First of all, The Kinnear Centre is a wonderful venue for authors to read, as the audience can relax and soak up the view of the Rockies while they listen. It kind of reminds me of reading on the beach; there’s just a nice relaxing quality to it. Much nicer than say, a view of a junkyard or a busy highway.
I also noticed that hosts are using the same template for their intros that has probably been used for over ten years. At each event the audience is reminded to turn off their cell phones and pagers. Yes, pagers. For those of you under the age of 25, pagers were used before cell phones, and would buzz whenever you received a call, giving you the number that called. You could then head to a payphone to return the call (payphones were public telephones found in booths on the street and in most businesses, that allowed you to make a call after depositing anywhere from 10 to 35 cents).
But seriously, I think the guy in The Hangover is the only person to use a pager in like, a decade. But I don’t fault the hosts, as I know myself from hosting an event with Patrick DeWitt last December, that you just don’t seem to notice it in your pre-event preparation. When you do notice that you’re asking people to turn off their pagers is as you read the line off the page. “And please turn off any cell phones or…uh…pay…gers.” You realize you’ve just said it out loud, but are not sure why. At any rate it always gets a little bit of a chuckle from the audience and can be effective at putting the host at ease if they are nervous (as I was). Suddenly the host and audience are in on a little joke together!
I don’t mention any of this as a criticism of anything or anybody, mind you. In fact, I think I’d probably be a little sad the day I heard an intro that didn’t ask me to turn off my pager. It’s kind of like hearing your Grandpa tell the same story every time you visit. You know the story backward and forward, and you always joke behind his back that he’s told it so many times, but you really miss hearing it after he passes away.
I must sign off now, but not for long. Even though WordFest 2012, save the one event next week, is over, the blog continues! In the next few days I’ll have a couple more posts featuring a recap of my week, and a little talk of what went on in the late night lounge, something I’ve had to keep a secret until all the authors left town. It’s simply scandalous. That might be a stretch, but, well, you’ll have to read to find out!