Facebook memories are good for one thing: reminding me that at this time last year, I’d already published a comprehensive post about Edmonton’s fall line up of literary festivals and events. This year, I’m attending just one event. (Insert excuses such as work, kids, and rockstar husband* here.) But it’s going to be a gooder.
Edmonton’s LitFest is celebrating its tenth anniversary, and so is the Canadian Literature Centre. As if that wasn’t enough to justify a party, the CLC also just released a book of essays, Ten Canadian Writers in Context, edited by friend-of-Reading in Bed Jason Purcell. This party just got upgraded to a soirée: the LitFest Ten-Ten Soirée and CLC Celebration to be exact.
This book is really weird. This review is really weird. Both the reading and the reviewing consumed me more than any other book this year. After struggling to make it fit a standard review format and failing, I’ve decided to strip away the “rating/synopsis/teaser/what I liked/what I didn’t/funny picture/conclusion” thing I usually do, and reveal what goes into a review here on Reading in Bed. I don’t do all this stuff for every book. Malarky works because I spent more time and energy than I usually do. The amount of work I put into a review is correlated with how strongly I feel about it, whether that’s love, hate, or yeah, sometimes obligation. This one is a labour of love.
I heard about Malarky and about author Anakana Schofield in a book column that appeared in The Edmonton Journal back in October of 2013.
“I’ve decided it’s like a pan of porridge,” Schofield says, in her thick Irish brogue, of her writing process. “It’s permanently simmering, and then: a little bubble. And a little bubble. And a little bubble. Until there’s about 15,000 of these little bubbles.”
The image of a simmering pot of porridge is great. I added Malarky to my TBR list. I was reading Dragon Bound at the time, so I probably wasn’t thinking clearly, and let it languish there till March of this year.
After reading the book, I went back and read the usual suspects for CanLit reviews: Quill and Quire, Globe and Mail, National Post. The reviews are all positive, and all mention the experimental quality of the writing. The strange thing is, months after finishing, I didn’t remember the experimental stuff, or even the stream of consciousness stuff, though it is there. I remembered marriage and motherhood and sexuality described in ways I couldn’t really compare to anything else.
Reading the actual book
I finally picked the book up in March and read it in a week. I was reading The Monk at the same time so there were a lot of weird sex things being read in March.
I didn’t actually pick it up, I read it on my Kobo. I took a look in my local Coles and didn’t find it. I wasn’t too upset, because the ebook is usually cheaper, and I’m not a fan of the cover art, so didn’t feel I needed it on my shelf. I feel differently now. I would really like these words on my shelf, and would like to loan them to others. Maybe I can track down an American or UK cover, as I like them a lot more.
Canadian, UK and American cover art: