Thanks, Flora, for the summary below!

This photograph and more information on Suzette Mayr can be found through the link: Coach House Books

Doloris gave an extremely interesting presentation on the Calgary author, Suzette Mayr (pronounced Meyer.)  In a very gentle and diplomatic way, Doloris indicated that she generally did not enjoy Mayr’s books, she was “not in love with her books, though there are parts she enjoyed of all her books, but not the whole thing.”

The plots are quite complicated – not linear. Mayr’s writing voice is coarse and raw; Mayr deploys animal, body and refuse metaphors, an array of body fluids and odours constantly assails the reader, she seems to have a curious obsession with toilets and garbage.

Doloris feels that reading Mayr is one of the best part of CWLC – we are challenged to read literature we may not enjoy or would have chosen to read.  And Doloris read all of her books FOUR TIMES.

Mayr has won many awards for her writing.

Suzette Mayr:

  • born in Calgary
  • German father/Afro-Caribbean mother
  • grew up in the 80’s
  • became a reader in Grade 6
  • went to University with Doloris’ daughter
  • Honours Degree in English
  • Masters at U of A
  • Came out as a lesbian 1990
  • Currently an associate professor at the University of Calgary
  • She is very active in the LGBTQ movement
  • She is currently working on her Ph.D.

Mayr’s writing philosophy

  • “Document your place and time as a writer.”
  • Objects to censorship
  • Major themes are race, ethnicity, sexuality, ageing, and individuality
  • She rewrites her novels 6-7 times.

Doloris read the poem:  Zebra – about mixed race individuals

Moon Honey (novel)

–Theme:  race relations in Alberta and transformation

The Widows (novel) — Doloris read an excerpt

–Themes:  aging, sexuality, race/multi-culturalism

–extremely non-traditional characters

–based on the true story of Annie Edson Taylor – first woman to go over Niagara Falls “Queen of the Mist”

Venous Hum

–gothic/vampires/gore

–This novel has been described as a “jolt of one-of-a-kind creativity”

–Venous Hum title refers to  the jugular vein

–Mayr deconstructs the Canadian identity

Moon Rising (Doloris read an excerpt)

–The story is about the suicide of young boy

–theme:  high suicide rate among LGBT teens

–took 8 years to finish writing the book – and she was exhausted

Doloris met with Suzette Mayr for coffee.  Interestingly, Mayr hadn’t thought of Doloris’ analysis of Niagara Falls in the way Doloris suggested – that Niagara Falls in her novel could be looked at as a Canadian icon, symbolic of the sister’s stormy life.  Doloris invited Suzette to attend the presentation, but unfortunately for us she was out of town.

Doloris encouraged us to read these books!

Helle Kraav thanked Doloris for a delightful presentation, reminding us that Deloris deserves a medal for reading all the books four times!

Discussion:

  • Why did she get so many awards when her writing is so “difficult?”  Suzette Mayr is a very good writer. There is so much in her books.
  • The name choices in her books are very interesting!
  • Cecilia Krupa took a creative writing class with Suzette Mayr under Aritha Van Herk .   Aritha Van Herk was a very influential mentor to Suzette.  She was a very sweet girl.

Doloris has invited Suzette Mayr to her home for dinner and she is looking forward to pursing a conversation about the craft of writing.

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