Monday, November 24, 2014

Samizdat Literature and Malarky

Thankfully, we are not quite at the point in Canada where we have to resort to samizdat literature, but with the federal government’s silencing of our scientists, I do tend to fret. A bit. At the same time, I also take heart. All around the country, people are meeting in the dark of late autumn days to celebrate literature. Call them sleeper cells. At their gatherings, these people engage in ritual acts that often involve food and drink and reading aloud from texts. It can get downright sacramental.

Bev has copies at Talewind Books
I have inside knowledge of one such event. It occurred just before Anakana Schofield gave a reading recently in Sechelt. Her book, Malarky, features a central character referred to as Our Woman. Our Woman has a fractured mind, a troubled spirit and a single purpose – to make sense of love and death and religion. After all, what else is there? Power, I guess.

The novel had me laughing on the first page, in spite of the seriousness of the quest. Once I had finished reading it, I knew that I would have to reread it, and I did. Our Woman had been so misled by the hijinks of her own mind, that she had made me question my own reading of reality. Few books sustain a second reading, but this one did.

Anakana, born in Ireland, may disavow the influence of Joyce and other members of the Irish canon on her work – citing instead the influences of Helen Potrebenko and Vancouver’s Concrete Poets - but when I heard her read, I recognized a cadence that for me is unmistakably and deliciously Irish. There is a music to it.

For your amusement, and as an ongoing act of sedition, here are some photos of our recent gathering:

In keeping with the ethnic flavour of the novel, I ground some soft wheat and made Irish soda bread. There were also wonderful puff pastry bites, and a subtly flavoured cream cheese wrapped in prosciutto – thanks to Geoff & Rosemary for those bites.

Years ago, Michael Ondaatje published a book of poetry: There’s a Trick with a Knife I’m Learning to Do, but my trick with a knife – performed on butter - was taught to me by Tante Gertraut, who looks on approvingly.

You will have to content yourself with a picture of the tables as they were arranged before everyone arrived. Then imagine 20 people and a bit of chaos. The table is laid with a cloth - thanks to Kinga - which has pictures of books, and a quote: So many books, so little time. The pictures I took after guests arrived did not have the benefit of a steady hand. You can blame the contents of the next photo.

This was what was left over. At least as many bottles are in the recycling bin. Note: we didn’t drink the dish detergent, which is on the extreme right. As for the food which I did not get around to photographing, it was visually sensational, delicious, and everything paired well with the wines. As well as the aforementioned appies, we also tucked into a veggie casserole by Jane; roasted roots by Katherine; salads by Helen & Irene (or their spousal pontoons – I am unsure); and desserts by Eleanor, Linda and Bev. Our household managed to score some leftovers of the latter, created from a recipe included in The Dirty Apron Cookbook. Tee hee.

1 comment:

  1. I love the title of the cookbook you mention at the end and I also like the way Tante Gertraut is smiling at the fancy butter. Hardy's mother always did that with her butter too!