Emily Carr

“Writing is a splendid sorter of… feelings, better even than paint.”

Emily Carr

This past April during our season of “favourite authors”, Lyn Koltutsky revealed the literary side of the now-iconic Canadian artist Emily Carr. Lyn’s talk was interspersed with views of old photographs and stunning paintings. Emily Carr’s talents as an artist went largely unrecognised during a lifetime of sorrow, poverty and many challenges. In spite of — or perhaps because of — her life journey, she shines as a true “original”: adventurous, confident, quirky and complex. Her literary and artistic accomplishments seem even more astounding! 

Carr’s first book Klee Wyck, a collection of short stories, wasn’t published until 1941 near the end of her life when her painting career had ended due to a heart attack. Nonetheless, it won the Governor General’s Award for Literature that year! The two subsequent books published in her lifetime, The Book of Small (1942) and The House of All Sorts (1944) were “autobiographical” but she used creative licence which created somewhat of a myth of Emily Carr. Four more books were published posthumously.

Nora Ephron launches our Humour, Irony and Satire Season!

Note: Regretfully, Calgary’s poorly-timed, record-breaking dump of snow on Oct 2nd caused us to postpone Mary’s presentation, “The Evolution of Humor & Its Role in Society & Literature. 

Neon sign on wall "all you need is lol"

Our season to Laugh Out Loud!
Photo by Kah Lok Leong on Unsplash

Welcome to CWLC’s Season of LOL!

Della Mae Wood started her presentation by showing us her notes, done in pencil on yellow lined paper. This is now a tradition of hers, ever since preparing an earlier club presentation on John Steinbeck, in the manner of John Steinbeck who always wrote this way!

Like Steinbeck, using traditional writing tools did not hamper Della Mae’s creativity. She launched our season of humor, irony and satire by talking about Nora Ephron, “a feminist with a funny bone”, who chronicled every aspect of being a woman in our times with hilarious acuity.

Nora Ephron produced an extensive body of work as journalist, novelist, essayist, playwright and screenwriter (e.g. When Harry Met Sally; Julie and Julia.) Della Mae shared some of her favorite passages, and the double-whammy of Ephron’s sharp insight and humor! Two of Della Mae’s favorites are: I Feel Bad About My Neck and I Remember Nothing. Ephron’s publisher, in consultation with the author, celebrated her body of work with a compilation, The Most of Nora Ephron.

Della Mae’s summary delves into so much more about this author, whose own life is a story in itself! Please read on…

 

Tony Hillerman and the Native American Southwest

Photo of SE Utah landscape

On the edge, near Moab, Utah

Anne-Marie Duma is very fond of the land and culture of the native people in the American Southwest and learned much through Tony Hillerman’s books while on an archeological dig. One of many reasons to appreciate the Navaho, Hopi and Zuni cultures is that people build beauty into everything that they do. For our presentation, Anne-Marie wore some pieces of beautiful native turquoise and silver jewelry.

Born in 1925 in Ohio, Tony Hillerman came from a poor family. As a result, he was schooled with Native Americans. In World War II he was wounded in the D-Day landing. A journalist friend of his mother, having seen letters sent home from the war,  encouraged him to pursue writing and he later got a degree in journalism.

Tony Hillerman has been recognized with numerous prestigious literary awards. However, the fact that his novels are part of the Navaho curriculum is perhaps the most outstanding recognition of the truth of his fiction.

Anne-Marie mentioned a few favorites: The Blessing Way (the first book from his Leaphorn and Chee series) and A Thief of Time, a later book in the series.

Read Anne-Marie’s presentation here.

Denise Chong, U of C Writer-in-Residence and special guest

Photo of author Denise Chong

Photo from penguinrandomhouse.ca

Am I sorry I was unable to attend our March 27 presentation with special guest, Denise Chong! Thankfully, Robin has done a masterful summary of her presentation, which you can find by clicking here.

 

Jane Urquhart: One of the best, but underrated, Canadian authors

By John Carter in 2010,
Wikimedia Commons, CC by 2.5

I’m sure I wasn’t alone in adding Jane Urquhart to my reading list, after attending Sandra’s presentation to CWLC on March 20th!

Using fascinating images to illustrate her talk, Sandra shared her admiration of the author’s mastery of sense of place and characterizations. Sandra revealed common themes interwoven through Jane Urquhart’s body of work.

 

I was left with the strong impression that Jane Urquhart’s works help readers “live” history, in the way only good historical fiction can. It will help us better preserve our past and understand who we were and who we are. I can hardly wait to read one of her novels this Fall!

Please read Sandra’s Presentation Summary for a lot more!

 

Bruce Hunter: CPL’s 2017 Author in Residence

 

Photo of Bruce Hunter

From website: brucehunter.ca

On November 21, 2017, we were so lucky to welcome the Calgary Public Library’s Author in Residence, Bruce Hunter, in his last week of tenure!

Rosemary Griebel, Director of Reading Services of the CPL introduced us to this award-winning writer of poetry, fiction, non-fiction, essays and interviews. The Library is celebrating the 30th year of this outstanding program, and as Author in Residence for the last three months, Bruce has been offering public programs and readings. He also mentors aspiring writers, providing advice and feedback on their manuscripts. Our community has benefitted greatly: Bruce Hunter is renowned in Canada for his support of emerging and established authors.

Especially for those who were not with us – and even for those who were — please click here for an interview which highlights his strength of character.

Interview with Bruce Hunter

There is nothing like seeing Bruce Hunter in person, to appreciate the spirit of this inspiring author.

And click below, to find out what Bruce shared on November 21st – at least as captured by hand-written notes.

Bruce Hunter Presentation Summary

 

Haruki Marakami: Realistic Fantasist?

Embed from Getty Images

Halloween must have gotten in my way (ahem… excuses, excuses)!

In any event, it is high time I add Shawna’s Presentation Summary of an author perfect to be introduced on Halloween — or anytime: Haruki Marakami.

Mr. Marakami is a contemporary Japanese author of surreal fiction. Shawna described a classic Murakami story: A Japanese “everyman”, often single, who doesn’t quite fit into society, who will encounter a fantastic situation, such as a secret underground laboratory, a man possessed by a malevolent sheep, a man who can talk to cats. The protagonist never doubts the existence of the fantastic things but is skeptical about the real world.

Intrigued? We were!

Click here for more on this fascinating author!