Author, Actor, Playwright, Excellent Parallel Parker


Rules of the Lake and Ashes to Water are now available for Kindle and Nook!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

In Which Kristin Hersh Calls Our Book Club and is Dark and Blue and Sweet

I'd never heard of Kristin Hersh, or her art rock band,Throwing Muses, which she formed at age 14. I know, I know, I'm about as hip as a walker. My Book and Cake Club picked her memoir, Rat Girl as our October read.  (BTW, if you don't belong to a book club where everyone brings cake, you're in the wrong book club.) Hersh's email address is printed in the back of her book, so Noah Scalin emailed and asked her if she'd like to "attend." Noah has been a fan for a long time; he saw her band play at a club in Richmond when he was too young to be there. I imagine that struck a chord (no pun intended) with Kristin, who for six years was too young herself to be in the clubs she played. She answered Noah right away and said sure. We met on Oct. 24, and Kristin Hersh participated via speakerphone.

I love people who love to laugh, and Kristin loves to laugh. Notoriously shy, she commented on her recent experiences at "literary events," where people often ask her very personal questions. "I go with it," she said, but as she says in the introduction, "I'm not interested in self-expression—I don’t want people to listen to my songs so that they’ll care about me.” And I don't think she wrote this book so people would care about her, either. Rather, she has shared with bone white honesty what is was like to be 18, freakishly talented and walking a line between sanity and stability, adventure and responsibility, ambition and integrity, music and motherhood.

Initially approached by a ghost writer who apparently felt comfortable enough to suggest that he "move in" as part of his research, Kristin stopped returning his calls and decided to write her story herself, using her 1985 diary as the starting point. "I kept a diary because someone told me I should," she said. "It was like homework to me." The book includes passages from her diary as well song lyrics which inform the memoir, and offer glimpses into her creative process.

What surprised me about his memoir is how "sweet" it is. "I wanted it to be sweet," Kristin said. Indeed, "dark and blue and sweet" is a recurring theme, and listening to her talk about Betty Hutton, with whom she had a remarkable college friendship in the mid-80s, her voice takes on those colors. "I feel a little guilty about Betty," she says of the years they were not in touch. (For those of you who don't know, Hutton was a Hollywood star who hit her stride in the 60s, playing Annie Oakley in the MGM movie. Hutton was in her 60s when she attended Kristin's gigs, and gave advice on connecting with an audience.) Hersh paints other characters with equally heartfelt strokes: her parents, whom we might expect to be neglectful or oblivious are instead loving and sweet. Her therapist (Dr. SevenSyllables), whom we might expect to be detached or cluelessly cerebral, is instead empathetic and hip. He "gets" her, and perhaps more importantly, guides her through a pregnancy without drugs. Hersh describes no petty behavior among her band members, although I'm sure there must have been some. These things don't interest Kristin, even as they were undoubtedly of interest to her editor at Penguin.

"She wrote in the margins, EXPLAIN! in big red letters. But I didn't want to write about the boring stuff. I wanted to write about the stuff that interested me." For four years, she wrote from 2:00 am until dawn (insomnia seemed another creative stimulant), then rewrote, erased it all, and rewrote again. "I hate it when people ask me 'what are you working on next?' It took me four years to write this one!"

Following a car crash which left her crumpled on the side of a road, Hersh developed a condition that sounds like synesthesia. As she described it: "I would hear ambient noise as music which sounded like me playing next door." Imagine the everyday background noise in your life arranging itself into the building blocks of songs, sometimes wild or twisted up, other times electrified and flitchy. And that's her music: surprising, haunting, sometimes loud, always compelling.


She also suffers from bi-polar disorder. It's onset, at 18, helped bring about a sort of "Art as Danger" lifestyle, in which Hersh found herself homeless, self-destructive and so creatively alive she almost combusted. Add to this mix an unplanned pregnancy, and you might expect a boiling cauldron of sadness and regret. But this memoir doesn't go where you think it will, doesn't ask what you expect it to answer. Neither depressing or triumphant, it is a glimpse into one woman's creative process by way of the most remarkable year in her life (arguably) as recorded in her diary and music. The memoir doesn't try to make a statement; Hersh sees only concerned with making music. And she puts her money where her mouth is: she found the nonprofit Coalition of Artists and Stakeholders (www.cash-music.com) in which she records and releases music without the aid of a record company. She is entirely listener-funded and makes her music available, free of charge and free to be shared, via CreativeCommons.org.You can download acoustic songs that complement her memoir at www.kristinhersh.com/seasonsessions.

The book is impressionistic. Hersh leaves out as much as she includes, which fascinated me. She never tells us who the father of her child is, for instance (indeed she makes little reference to having sex at all), and I felt that the question was beside the point. But we wanted to ask, more out of a sense of connection than curiosity. But we didn't ask, and she didn't offer. Rat Girl is not about romance, after all. It is about passion. "Passion for sound, reptiles, old ladies, guitars, a car, water, weather, friends, colors, chords, children, a band, fish, light and shadow.”

 Passion that is dark and blue and sweet.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

In Which I Pay $76 for a Bra and Make My Mother Spew Diet Pepsi Through Her Nose at a High Velocity

I tell my mother I finally found a bra that fit AND was comfortable. I lift up my shirt and show it to her. I have three sisters and we do this all the time in my family. We like to think we're shocking my father, but he he just rolls his eyes and says, "Pft."
"How much?" my mother asks.
"Seventy-six dollars," I say.
"For how many?" my father asks.
"One."
My mother does a spit take worthy of Danny Thomas. "Seventy-six DOLLARS!" she says.
"It's really comfortable."
"It damn well better be!"
"It's a Chantelle bra," I say. "It's French."
"I buy my bras at Marshall's for nine dollars," my mother says.
"Those are made in China."
"So what? I wouldn't pay $76 for a bra, I don't care where it comes from."
"Thats what I said until I tried it on," I say.
"Tried it on where?"
"Nordstroms."
Another spit take. "What were you doing in NORDstroms?" She says it like I was dancing naked at Buckingham Palace.
"I was shopping for a dress, and the saleswoman suggested I have a bra fitting."
"What business was it of hers?"
I don't have a good answer to this.
"If a saleswoman suggested to me that I have a bra fitting, I would have given her the stink eye," she says, then demonstrates. It's a pretty stinky eye.
"She escorted me to the lingerie department and introduced me to Liz," I say.
"Who's Liz?"
"The bra-fitting lady."
"Nice gig," my father says."Do they have any openings in that department?"
My mother says, "Does that bra make you look like you're sixteen?"
"Nothing could do that," I say.
"Then what good is it?"
She has a point. Sort of. "Liz told me I was the wearing the wrong size," I say. "And she told me my straps weren't tight enough. I wasn't getting enough lift."
"For $76, I should think they'd be under your chin."
"No, they're where they're supposed to be."
"Yeah, but $76! I thought I raised you better than that."
My mother is the original Second-Hand Rose. I bought my clothes in thrift stores until I was 40 years old.
"I'll get the rest of them on eBay," I say.
"That's my girl." She looks at the river. It's a beautiful fall day. "I wish I'd had my operation earlier," she says.
My mother had a breast reduction in her mid-70's, about ten years ago. She often says she wishes she had done it earlier.
"I know."
"Then again, I never had a $76 bra."
I nod. "It might have saved you some money."
"Nah," she says. "I like my B-cups." She lifts up her shirt and shows me. My father rolls his eyes and says, "Pft."

Monday, October 25, 2010

Help Me Choose a New Cover For Ashes to Water


Well, that's that. I totally sold out. I uploaded an eBook version of Ashes to Water on Amazon.

Come to think of it, "sold out" is optimistic. To my knowledge, I haven't sold anything yet. I blame the cover. I can't use the same cover as the hardback edition because my publisher owns that artwork. So imagine my delight when an old school friend (he's old, I'm not) volunteered his son to design a new cover for me, gratis. I smiled so big I almost creased my forehead. (Note to self: more Botox.)

James Giffiths, it turns out, is a very talented young man. If you need a cover design, I encourage you to contact him for a quote. (If you know his mom or dad, you may qualify for the Friend of the Family rate.) He's at grifranger@hotmail.com. I mean, look at these!




It took me a while to see to the face at the bottom of the second one. I really like it, and I really like that I didn't see it at first. But I thought the first design might read better. So I went back to him, and asked him to make the first design a "feminine" face. To my surprise, he said it was the same female face as in the landscape picture. He tweeked, and came up with this:

He included more options, variations on the theme:

Which one do you like? Here they are as they might appear online. You can identify them as 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.



Pretty, pretty cool. Thank you, James. (And thank you, James' dad.)

Monday, October 18, 2010

You're Never Too Old to Be Read To (or end sentences with prepositions)


This morning, I got a call from Robert Olen Butler. He won a Pulitzer Prize in 1993 for his collection of Vietnam short stories, Good Scent From a Strange Mountain. When he said, "This is Robert Olen Butler," I almost dropped my martini.

The call wasn't out of the blue. I produce an event, Virginia Arts & Letters LIVE (or VALL for short), and I had asked permission to feature his short story, "Jealous Husband Returns in Form of Parrott." I sent the contract no less than 3 times, and he never sent it back. I had an email saying he granted permission, so I was covered, but it was still pretty cheeky to proceed without his written permission.

He called to ask if I still needed him to send the contract. I admitted I didn't and he said good. Then we hung up. Ta da! My brush with literary fame.

The event, co-produced by James River Writers and Cultural Arts Center at Glen Allen (in support of the READ Center), went very well. VALL features Virginia actors reading short stories by Virginia writers, accompanied by Virginia Musicians. I founded the event in 2004, so this was the 7th incarnation. My guest host was Pat Carroll, and she rocked the house with her interpretation of The Happy Memories Club” by Lee Smith. The story is about an elderly woman who is unpopular with her writing group because the memories she writes about aren't happy enough.

Most people know Pat for voicing Ursula the sea witch in The Little Mermaid. She first endeared herself to Richmond audiences in "Gertrude Stein, Gertrude Stein" at Barksdale Theatre Hanover Tavern, then took two turns playing Mother Superior in the wacky musical, Nunsense.  I was very fortunate to co-star with Pat when Theatre IV produced “Grace and Glorie.” I learned more from being on stage with Pat Carroll than any amount of schooling could have taught me. I watched her get a huge laugh just by raising one eyebrow. And then she got another huge laugh just by putting it back down again. When Tim Kaine was mayor, he presented Pat with a bronze seal of the city, which made her an honorary citizen, and commemorated her many contributions to the art and cultural life of Richmond.

The evening began with Tony Foley reading Olen Butler's story, "Jealous Husband Returns in Form of Parrot." The title says it all. Tony was spot on with his parrot-like movements and vocalizations. His comic timing was impeccable. He was so good Pat asked him to take another bow.

Jill Bari Steinberg read "Jonas" by Belle Boggs, about a middle aged woman coming to terms with her husband's decision to get a sex-change operation. The story itself is pitch perfect, but Jill Bari's performance was sensitive and skillfully nuanced.


Pat Carroll read last—for thirty-three glorious minutes her audience was taken by a consummate veteran performer for a ride they will not soon forget.

Accompanying all the performances was Kelly Kennedy on piano, Andy Cleveland on violin, and Rachael Blake on flute.

During the reception afterward, Pat signed CDs of The Best of Virginia Arts & Letters LIVE, which were available for purchase. 


Pat is looking for a play that she and her daughter, actor Tara Karsian could do together. "Not Night Mother!" she quickly added. She also ruled out "Lettuce and Lovage." I suggested "Last Lists of My Mad Mother," but it's only 60 minutes long.  If you have any suggestions, leave me a comment and I'll be sure to pass them along.

If you were at VALL on Friday night, thanks for coming out. If you weren't I hope you'll attend next year. You're never to old to be read to, especially if by talented actors reading richly rewarded stories by Virginia writers,  accompanied by great musicians. 

The Richmond Theater Circle Critics Awards

I wrote a play, Full Plate Collection, and last night, it won the RTCCA Award for Best Locally Produced Play. Now I want to write another play. Success is motivating.

Congratulations to all the nominees and winners. I hope Dave Timberline doesn't mind that I lifted the results from his blog.

Best Musical
The Sound of Music (Barksdale / Theatre IV)

Best Direction (Musical)
Chase Kniffen, The Sound of Music (Barksdale / Theatre IV)

Best Actor (Musical)
Durron Tyre, Rent (Firehouse Theatre Project)

Best Actress (Musical)
Joy Newsome, Rent (Firehouse Theatre Project)

Best Supporting Actor (Musical)
Antonio Tillman, Rent (Firehouse Theatre Project)

Best Supporting Actress (Musical)
Susan Sanford, The Sound of Music (Barksdale / Theatre IV)

Best Musical Direction
Leilani Mork, Rent (Firehouse Theatre Project)

Best Choreography
Willie Hinton, Black Nativity (African American Repertory Theatre)

Best Play
Take Me Out (Richmond Triangle Players)

Best Direction – Play
Bo Wilson, Shining City (Henley Street Theatre)

Best Actor – Play
Joe Inscoe, Shining City (Henley Street Theatre)

Best Actress – Play
Kelly Kennedy, On Golden Pond (Barksdale)

Best Actor in a Supporting Role – Play
Jimmy Glidden, Take Me Out (Richmond Triangle Players)

Best Actress in a Supporting Role – Play
Carmen Zilles, Boleros for the Disenchanted (Barksdale)

Best Ensemble Acting
The Mystery of Irma Vep, Swift Creek Mill Theatre

Best Locally-Developed Work
Full Plate Collection (Independent)

Outstanding Achievement in Costume Design
Rebecca Cairns, Servant of Two Masters (Henley Street)

Outstanding Achievement in Lighting Design
Lynne Hartman, The Sound of Music (Barksdale / Theatre IV)

Outstanding Achievement in Set Design
Betsy Muller, Is He Dead? (Barksdale)

Outstanding Achievement in Sound Design
Derek Dumais, The Sound of Music (Barksdale / Theatre IV)

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Abandon All Hope, Ye Mice Who Enter Here


My husband is mowing the lawn. Then he will aerate and seed. It's that time of year. Last week, the Canadian geese arrived. At dawn and dusk, they squawk and honk, then fly off to do whatever it is Canadian geese do, which is fly, I guess. And this morning, I found the first signs of the annual invasion of mice.

My house, made of barn wood, attracts mice. As soon as it gets nipply, in they come through every crack and crevice. A favorite entry place is the corner of the drinks cabinet, and really, who can blame them? They roam, nibble and deposit evidence of said nibbling among the Pims and ginger beer. They get into the junk drawer, the silverware drawer, the basement. One morning, after leaving dishwater overnight in the sink, I reached in and found one drowned.


At first, Graham and I battled them with Little Nipper mousetraps. They're the best ones. The spring action is quick and lethal. Just after dusk, I hear them going "snap!" in the pantry, beneath the window sill, in the kitchen cabinet. I fling the carcass into the woods, guiltless.

But last year, we couldn't keep up with them. Vigilant at first, we rebaited the traps after each catch, but after a while, the blood lust faded, and we fooled ourselves into thinking we had them under control. Pretty soon, while watching TV, we felt one run over a foot, and rodent rage returned.

Let me pause for a moment to acknowledge that mice are God's creatures. So noted. They are also disease-carrying intruders and will chew through triple wrapped packaging to turn groceries to garbage. They also poop with each breath they take. I feel the need to assert my superiority in the food chain.

On the advice of a neighbor, we tried poison. The poison makes them thirsty, so the theory is they will go outside in search of water, then die outdoors. Good theory. In actuality, they die in our basement in some corner behind steel shelving where you never find them, not even after they bloat and turn to decomp. Mice decomp is bad news. Not only does it STINK, it also attracts maggots, which lay eggs that hatch into big ass flies. It's one Biblical blight after another.

I know what you're thinking. "That's what you get for killing God's creatures." To you I say, "Bite me."

Another neighbor suggested a cat. We tried it. Our dog, part wolf, gave it that lean and hungry look. We took the cat away before it became lunch. See? We're not completely insensitive to animals. Just mice. And snakes. And spiders. And ticks. And home invaders of the Ninja variety.

As for those anti-pest devices that claim to keep rodents at bay by emitting a high frequency signal undetectable to the human ear? Well, guess what? The signal is undetectable to any ears. It's the best consumer rip-off since snake oil. And those glue traps seem worse than quick death. Capture them alive? Well that sort of defeats the whole point. And I'm not going to put them in the car and drive them into the next county.

This year, I'm going to try a combination of techniques. Above ground, I've put poison in the drinks cabinets and other favorite places. In the basement, traps. My hope is that the above ground mice will find their way outside. The basement mice I will have to retrieve and throw away. I know what will happen, though. I'll get tired of descending the basement stairs every morning to collect carcasses. Then the mice will party and have babies and we'll be overrun again.

We could move, but that would be admitting defeat. Besides, we don't want to move. If you lived here, you wouldn't want to move, either. It's our home.

By day, we'll reseed the lawn, listen to geese, and enjoy the pleasures of the season. By night, we'll put on our Mr. Hyde masks and bait the traps. We have no desire to bake our bounty into pies, so please, don't be a stranger. Just don't bring your cat.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Why I E-Subscribe to The Writer's Almanac

The Writer's Almanac is produced by Prairie Home Productions and presented by American Public Media. Each morning, I open my email and read a poem and several brief literary birthday announcements, or literary milestones. I like cutting and pasting a literary birthday each day on my Facebook page. Some people think I'm smart and just know all this stuff. Most people have my number.

Yesterday, I started my day with a poem called "Story," by Sabine Miller. It really affected me, maybe because I haven't felt motivated to write lately. Or maybe because I'm hosting Virginia Arts & Letters LIVE with Pat Carroll this Friday, and I have stories on the brain. Or it could be because I'm tired of watching the news and am starting to understand why people watch more comedies as they age. (True fact that I made up.)

Tonight, I'm receiving an award for "excellence in the arts" in the category of Words, along with twelve other artists in their artistic field. The Theresa Pollak Award recognizes my first novel, Ashes to Water, and my play, Full Plate Collection, both of "came out" this year. I'm really proud of this honor. Knowing my words touched some people is a wonderful feeling. It's why writers write. It's why this poem is so good.

Whatever the reason, this poem hit me just right, and I wanted to share it. BTW, you can subscribe to The Writer's Almanac, too. Or you can hear Garrison Kielor read the Poem of the Day at 6:00 am EST on your local NPR station.


That is all.

Story
by Sabine Miller

Tell me the one
about the sick girl —
not terminally ill, just years in bed
with this mysterious fever —
who hires a man
to murder her — you know,
so the family is spared
the blight of a suicide —
and the man comes
in the night, a strong man,
and nothing is spoken
—he takes the pillow
to her face — tell me
how he is haunted the rest
of his life — did he
or didn't he
do the right thing — tell me
how he is forgiven,
and marries, and has
2 daughters, and is happy —
no, tell me she doesn't
die, but is cured and
gives her life to God,
and becomes a hand-holder for
men on death row —
tell me the one where the man
falls in love with the girl
and can't do it, or
the girl falls in love
with a dog and calls
the man to tell him
not to come, or
how each sees their pain
mirrored in the other's eyes —
tell me how everyone is already
forgiven every story
they ever told themselves
about living
or not living —
tell me, oh tell me
the one where love wins, again
and again                and again.

"Story" by Sabine Miller, from Circumference of Mercy. © Mountains and Rivers Press, 2010. Reprinted with permission.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Detoxing With NaNoWriMo, the Writer's Flush

At a party last night, several people asked me, "What's next for you?" I gave a different answer each time. After completing a three-month book tour, I'm a little, howyousay, unfocused at the moment. So this afternoon, I was participating in #writechat on Twitter, and someone was extolling the virtues of NaNoWriMo.

Huh? I thought.

So I looked it up.

NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month, "a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing." Maybe you know this month-long writing marathon has been around for ten years, but it's new to me, and I'm intrigued. So I signed up. Here's what I'm in for:

"Participants begin writing November 1. The goal is to write a 175-page (50,000-word) novel by midnight, November 30. The ONLY thing that matters in NaNoWriMo is output. It's all about quantity, not quality. The kamikaze approach forces you to lower your expectations, take risks, and write on the fly. By forcing yourself to write so intensely, you are giving yourself permission to make mistakes. To forgo the endless tweaking and editing and just create. To build without tearing down.

So, to recap:

What: Writing one 50,000-word novel from scratch in a month's time.
Who: You! We can't do this unless we have some other people trying it as well. Let's write laughably awful yet lengthy prose together.
Why: The reasons are endless! To actively participate in one of our era's most enchanting art forms! To write without having to obsess over quality. To be able to make obscure references to passages from our novels at parties. To be able to mock real novelists who dawdle on and on, taking far longer than 30 days to produce their work.
When: You can sign up anytime to add your name to the roster and browse the forums. Writing begins November 1. To be added to the official list of winners, you must reach the 50,000-word mark by November 30 at midnight."

The first thing I'm going to do is throw away the ideas I've been carrying around for "my next novel." In order to pump out 10 pages a day for 20 days (I figure a 5-day work week is reasonable), I'll have to write about something that doesn't require research. So I'm going to write a comedy about a naive writer who kidnaps and tortures her agent by reading aloud from his slush pile.

My goal is to help other writers (and readers!) understand what is involved in the post-publication process. I used to think writing the book was the hard part. Writing the book is cake compared to what comes next. Cake, I tell you.

I've been told that I should never write anything on my blog that I wouldn't want printed in the New York Times, so I haven't talked much about the darker side of my publishing experience. People don't like it when you complain, particularly when you've accomplished something they perceive as prestigious. You risk sounding ungrateful, when in fact, you're just hacked off because nobody told you that here, there be dragons.

So I'm looking forward to vomiting my little Roman a Clef during NaNoWriMo. I intend to write it fast, keep it light, and make it fun. At month's end, I hope to feel purged of the toxins that have me temporarily unfocused and remember why I'm a writer in the first place. And if that doesn't work, I'll just shell out the money for a partial lobotomy or another arts degree, whichever is cheaper.

Let the games begin.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

B&N Promo Code

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Thursday, October 7, 2010

A Few Canadian Literary Awards We Should Adopt, and a Few We Shouldn't.

So I just got back from Vancouver. This trip didn't have anything to do with the book tour; my husband and I just wanted to experience the city. There's a reason it's ranked as the 4th best city to live in the world. It's gorgeous. Canadians seem to have a kinder, gentler thing going on with the "no guns allowed" legislation. Just sayin. And their support of the arts has evolved beyond our Neanderthal attitudes. They actually think it's important.

While I was there, the shortlist was announced Tuesday for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, an award handed out every year for Canada's best English-language novel or book of short stories.
The five finalists are:
• David Bergen, for his novel, The Matter with Morris
• Alexander MacLeod, for his short-story collection, Light Lifting
• Sarah Selecky, for her short-story collection, This Cake Is for the Party
• Johanna Skibsrud, for her novel, The Sentimentalists
• Kathleen Winter, for her novel, Annabel

Ever heard of them? Me neither. They're Canadians, duh. But here's the thing. Two works on that list are debuts. And two are short story collections. I'm like, huh? Canadians read short stories? In the states, the only thing that sells worse than short stories is poetry. And to nominate two unknown writers for such a prestigious prize blows me away. Let's hear it for new voices!

So I Googled the award in an attempt to learn more, and discovered that Canada gives out a lot of literary awards. We do, too, of course, but theirs are so...Canadian. Here a few that got my attention:

  • Canadian Authors Association Awards for Adult Literature Honouring works by Canadian writers that achieve excellence without sacrificing popular appeal since 1975.
Canadians value popular appeal? How quaint. Americans worship popular appeal, but here, we call it pop culture. And we don't award it with literary honors. We throw our underwear at it.
Discriminatory, you say? Perhaps Canadian men in mid-career agreed, and in 2003, convinced the Writer's Trust to establish a companion award, the Timothy Findley Award, to honour male writers. In 2008, the Engel and Findley Awards were discontinued and merged into the new Writers' Trust Engel/Findley Award. Is everybody happy now?
Milton Acorn? Really? Does that sound like someone you'd like to know? And what the heck is a people's poet? Someone who writes poems that rhyme?
What's with these Canadians, they gotta award according to sex. Strangely, 'Pat' is an androgynous name. They should rename this the Patricia Lowther Award to avoid further confusion. BTW, Pat Lowther was murdered by her husband. I should think it would discourage a few female poets. Maybe it's just me.
Maybe the states should award in two languages. Pig Latin, anyone?
Does every state in our union sponsor a writing award? I don't know the answer to this. Do you?
Note to self: if Canadian literary humour writers (note the extra 'u' in there) are as funny than Canadian TV humour writers, this could be an easy steal for say, David Sedaris. Or Benny Hill, for that matter.
  • W.O. Mitchell Literary Prize for a writer who has made a distinguished lifetime contribution both to Canadian literature and to mentoring new writers.
Aw, that's nice. We oughta have one of these. It would have gone to James Dickey who was notorious for "mentoring" young writers, nudge nudge wink wink.
Sounds all hip and all, but is it art? (Yes, I actually said that.)
What, Ripley's isn't good enough for you?
For writing that is "inspirational to Canadian youth." Do we have one of these? For writing that is inspirational to American youth? Does American youth read? JK Rowling doesn't count. She's British. And Stephanie Meyer doesn't inspire. She's the Pied Piper of Teenage Girls. But I digress.

BTW, Husband and I discovered we're not supposed to say we're from America. We were told, "We're all North American, mate. You're from The States." Only I don't think he said 'mate.' Maybe he said 'you elitist continent hog.' Yeah, maybe that was it. Do they give out awards for that?