Thanks, Betty, for choosing to present Alan Bennett, a perfect end to our entertaining and thought-provoking season of humour, irony and satire!
Betty read from the charming novella The Uncommon Reader, wherein Queen Elizabeth gets hooked on reading after chancing upon a mobile library van while walking her corgis. This book had been the first book Betty had read by Alan Bennett, and thereafter she was hooked. After Betty’s presentation, CWLC members are too!
Many of us had seen — if not read — The Lady in the Van, the funny, poignant story about the actual relationship Mr. Bennett developed with a true eccentric. Betty noted that Alan Bennett’s works have been said to be “too English.” Betty would argue that anyone can enjoy them.
CHECK HERE for the Wikipedia page and note especially the body of work by this actor, playwright, screenwriter and author, and the numerous awards and nominations. It is awe-inspiring to see how much someone can do in a lifetime — and is still active! .
A whole Canadian political news cycle has passed since Helle’s April 9 presentation on the singular and spirited political commentator Allan Fotheringham. Which is exactly why you will want to read or reread Helle’s comments about the author and why she says, “Today, more than ever, we could use more humour, sarcasm and irony to keep politicians and people in the public eye on their toes.” Even writing in times that were relatively easygoing compared to today’s political correctness, Mr. Fotheringham was the subject of 26 lawsuits: He only lost two!
CLICK HERE to read more of Helle’s timely presentation.
How lucky to have grown up without TV! That’s how Denise began her presentation. Her family moved to the U.S. Midwest when she was young, and it was there, listening to public radio, that she discovered A Prairie Home Companion.
Giving us a map for reference, Denise was our charming guide to Lake Wobegon. She read a hilarious passage about the founding of the town and why it’s missing on regional maps. Denise says she has met many “Wobegon” personalities, not necessarily from the Midwest. She then continued to give us so many reasons to appreciate this writer, radio broadcaster and so much more.
Demonstrating Mr. Keillor’s satiric side, Denise asked Kathy to read a parody — Kathy should be a comedienne! CLICK HERE to read “Sermon on the Mount” by Garrison Keillor.
What an opener to our literary season! Robin shared an intriguing glimpse into Wade Davis’ life as an anthropologist, botanist and ethnobotanist. Ethnobotany, in case the term is new for you too, is the study of the traditional knowledge and customs of a people concerning plants and their medical, religious and other uses. Originally, field work for Harvard and National Geographic drew him to the outermost (innermost?) reaches of this planet. Robin mentioned it would be easier to list where Wade Davis has not been in the world, than where he has gone.
He continues work in areas still almost unknown, living among indigenous communities as a member, and not merely observer. Robin decided to spare us the description of his “dysentery breakfast,” while we were sipping tea and enjoying goodies from the comfort of the Memorial Park Library! He shares his insights through writing, superb photography and speaking engagements. Robin said, “He writes with the soul of a poet.” One of his books is titled The Wayfinders, Why Ancient Wisdom Matters in the Modern World. Thanks to Robin’s talk, I suspect many of us will be wanting to learn more from this explorer/scientist/author.
How appropriate that one of Canada’s best known newspaper columnists and commentators on radio and TV was brought up in one of the oldest European settlements in North America — which also happened to be in the last province to join Confederation, and barely did!
Anita’s presentation about Rex Murphy was sprinkled generously with her own sense of humour. Certainly, Rex Murphy is well appreciated by members of the club, who know him best as host of CBC Radio’s Cross-Country Checkup, commentator for CBC TV’s The National, and journalist for newspapers The National Post and The Globe & Mail. But did you know…
Rex Murphy’s mother loved literature and learning and his father was known for “linguistic dazzle.”
Rex Murphy was politically active very young, having entered Memorial University at fifteen. He was noticed (not in a good way) by Joey Smallwood, but the students ultimately got what they wanted!
In the 1980’s, he ran for political office in Newfoundland. Although he didn’t win, he decided he was better critiquing politics and politicians anyway.
He is author of two books, Canada and Other Matters of Opinion and Points of View (Penguin Random House)
Lifelong classical literature study underpins his writing. His way with words (& quotes) is like no other.
He is a fierce defender of free speech and will jump into messy, controversial topics himself — such as defending Alberta’s and the East Coast’s oil industry, for example!
Dickens has a lot in common with those who came before… that is, those in this year’s line-up of authors who use Humour, Irony and Satire in Literature to expose foolishness and corruption — with a view to pushing reform.
He knew what he wrote about: At twelve, he worked ten hours a day in a rotten, rat-infested “blacking” warehouse, putting labels on shoe polish. His family was thrown into debtor’s prison at this time. When he started writing in serial form, he allowed lower classes to read his work, though this was criticised as “pandering.”
Margaret quizzed us on actual-versus-fictional place names used in Dickens’ works. Hilarious! And then there are the ridiculous proper names and their unforgettable characters.
Along with a fascinating overview of his life and times, Margaret gave us some tips:
A Tale of Two Cities best describes the times Dickens lived in.
David Copperfield is the most autobiographical novel.
The Pickwick Papers, his first book, was written in a popular style in the 19th Century called “picaresque.”
Read What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew (Daniel Pool) to understand Victorians.
No one could have done better justice to comedienne and writer Tina Fey than our own Kathy, who could be a stand-up comedienne herself. Kathy interspersed her presentation with many photos, video clips and readings. Amazingly, Tina Fey’s writing credits alone cover no less than nineteen categories.
All in all, Kathy herself will be a hard act to follow!