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Sunday, June 11, 2006

Where did the time go?

Westboro’s increasingly popular WESTfest wraps up today. Ann-Marie MacDonald appeared yesterday as part of the two day Festival of Music, Art & Life along with a panel of authors which included Ottawa’s Mark Frutkin (Fabrizio’s Return) and Anita Lahey who recently launched her first book of poetry Out to Dry in Cape Breton. I admit I still have plenty to learn about Anita’s fascination with clothes lines. Zoe Whittall, author of The Best 10 Minutes of Your Life is launching her second collection of poetry The Emily Valentine Poems in August of 2006. Bottle Rocket Hearts, a novella and stories, will be out in 2007 with Cormorant Books.

Recently the Ottawa Book Award and Prix du livre d'Ottawa recognized several books of literary excellence. The award ceremony was a no-frills, no-nonsense event with many winners and honourable mentions too numerous to list in this column in all of the 11 categories that were recognized. The major winners included, for English non-fiction, Heather Menzies for her NO TIME: Stress and the Crisis of Modern Life. The English fiction award was presented as a tie to John-James Ford, Bonk on the Head, and John Geddes, The Sundog Season. The French non-fiction award went to Réjean Robidoux for his D’éloge et de critique. Gilles Lacombe, Trafiquante de lumière, took home the French fiction prize.

A couple of literary trios recently came to Ottawa. But judging by the sparse audience attendance you may have missed their appearances this time around. But there’s always an opportunity to purchase their books at a bookstore near you. Nairne Holtz, Harold Hoefle, and Barry Webster recently entertained an intimate gathering at Venus Envy. They each read from the tantalizingly-titled anthology, Lust for Life: Tales of Sex & Love published by Véhicule Press in my home town of Montreal. Most amusing of the lot was Barry Webster’s sinisterly written story of Santa called ‘Jingle Balls’. It begins not-so-innocently, “I’ve always had a Santa Claus fetish.” This story alone is worth the price of the book.

The second trio dubbed ‘The 5pt Tour’, wrapped there cross-Canada tour in Ottawa May 21st , included Elizabeth Bachinsky, author of Home of Sudden Service, along with Michael V. Smith (What You Can't Have) and Jennica Harper (The Octopus and Other Poems) at Ottawa's Collected Works Bookstore. In Jennica's book, she penned a quick note to me, "Clearly a kindred sprit". I couldn't agree more with her sentiment.


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