You know how some people believe they have a twin out there somewhere, or at least a separated-at-birth kind of kindred spirit? Well, I’ve got one and after 15 years of electronic connection, I finally met her today. Lisa Bendall has been one of my writer heroes since back in the old Abilities magazine days when she was managing editor. She’s been there at the end of the Send key for years, answering my inane questions about freelance writing, disability issues, self-publishing, good deeds, you name it. Today, at long last, we met in the flesh in Toronto and, launched by a big “can’t believe it” hug, we had a long, chatty lunch at at The Blake House (ooo, recommended!). As a small thank you for everything she’s done for me, she is now the proud owner Life of Pi, featuring a newly-minted Yann Martel autograph and original doodle – a girl, who oddly bears a striking resemblance to Lisa, in a lifeboat with an very skinny Bengal tiger. A fitting gift for someone who has thrown me lifelines of advice for at least two decades.
Happy to see this is happening. We worked this out in Saskatchewan a long time ago, and glad to see it’s spreading. Wish it would happen faster, along with the understanding as to why it’s important, but hey! It’s happening! Ran into a nice elderly man the other day where we go to work out; he was so impressed that Jim was with us. Said he knew of a business that hired ‘mongoloids.’ Eww. Ouch. Okay, I guess we should go back and get rid of the M-word, too. A nice opportunity, though, to calmly talk about why that term is a teeny tiny bit offensive.
Talk about climbing some mountains, Yann Martel managed to get his publisher to get cozy with Saskatoon’s McNally Robinson so us folks out here in the hinterland could see it first. Then they had to quickly remove it from the shelves until the official launch February 6. Yann, who left today for a marathon book tour in Canada and the U.S., wanted to launch at his beloved McNally in front of several hundred of his close friends and family. Partner Alice, who had her own book launch last week, arrived as soon as all four kids were in bed – and managed bartending and cookie duties with Marcy, the wonderful events coordinator with McNally. A great evening. Rick had to stay home to review a thesis, but Jim and I represented the neighbourhood. Yann says the number one question he’s asked, particularly by U.S. journalists, is “Why do you live in Saskatoon?” Have you got an hour?
Hope to see you at Alice Kuiper’s book launch this Saturday, January 23rd at 3 p.m. at McNally Robinson in Saskatoon as she unveils her second in the Violet and Victor adventures, Violet and Victor Write the Most Fabulous Fairy Tale. You don’t have to have kids or even know them to get your copy. Our lovely neighbour just hopes you’re a book lover. Don’t be embarrassed if you’re sans kids; be bold and get your autograph anyway!
And keeping it in the neighbourhood (and in the family), also plan to attend Yann Martel’s launch of The High Mountains of Portugal on January 28th at McNally, the anxiously awaited novel following Beatrice and Virgil. And, there was that little book he did awhile back that did fairly well, Life of Pi.
And with those eyes following us, we’re not likely to forget to go.
I think my fingers have thawed now. It’s been two days since I joined thousands who packed the Broadway and freeway bridges to watch the detonation that brought down two spans of the Traffic Bridge. -25, I think, but watching a little bit of history being made is worth some frostbite.
A little nervous about people standing on river ice after the big bang.
Saskatoon’s historic Traffic Bridge goes out with a bit of a boom tomorrow morning at 9 am. Who doesn’t remember the hair-raising descent down Victoria, inhaling as you hit the base of the skinny bridge desperately hoping no one was coming in the other direction? A car, okay, that was one thing, but a TRUCK? You dared not exhale, certain that extra volume of molecules you introduced would close the minute breath of space between the two vehicles as they passed. Clipping side mirrors was a looming certainty! Another bit of Saskatoon’s history bows down to the blasting caps. Two of our kids had their Traffic Bridge wide-eyed driving rite of passage. Sad to see it go. What a big change for Saskatoon’s iconic downtown river landscape. Wonder what the new one will look like?
So long, Skinny Bridge!
Years ago, I remember sitting in my stepson’s IPP meeting and wondering who they were talking about. I didn’t recognize Jim in the conversation. Neither did my husband. Jim was there and I don’t think he knew who it was about either. We finally asked, “Maybe we could take a few moments and go around the table and each of us say something good about Jim?” Evidently we were from Mars judging by the looks we got. But they did it, good on ’em. And what was a tense meeting turned out to have some laughter in it.
Today, I came across this story on ABC News by Genevieve Shaw Brown. It’s about a teacher in Florida who gets it. I’m going to write Mr. Chris a letter. You should, too. Check out their Facebook page called Special Books by Special Kids; come on, there’s got to be a publisher who sees the value in this project! I know a publisher; I’m going to write him a letter, too!
Here is Mr. Chris with a few of his proud as punch students, getting lots of practice being good humans.