The Uncommon Reader and other gems by Alan Bennett

Thanks, Betty, for choosing to present Alan Bennett, a perfect end to our entertaining and thought-provoking season of humour, irony and satire!

Alan Bennett 1973 by photographer Allan Warren [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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! .

Natalie Meisner: A class act!

With kind permission of Natalie Meisner

Program Coordinator Sandra Ens introduced our November 12th special guest speaker. Natalie Meisner is coordinator of the Mount Royal University Writer-in-Residence Program and a professor in the MRU Department of English where she works in the areas of creative writing, drama, and gender/sexuality studies.

Professor Meisner, who is also a published author and playwright, spoke engagingly about the importance of telling stories outside the mainstream so that other voices are represented at the table of post-modern literature. In addition to this focus on diversity and the “lit of now,” her teaching emphasizes the role of empathy in helping emerging writers engage with their subjects to craft stories that create community.  She concluded her presentation by referencing the shift in her own writing away from tragedy and anger toward comedy as a means of effecting social change.

After reading an excerpt from her very amusing work of non-fiction, Double Pregnant:  Two Lesbians Make a Family, Professor Meisner answered questions from the membership that confirmed the idea that literature is something we make, not just something we read.



Allan Fotheringham, we miss you!

Canadian Film Centre from Toronto, Canada [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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.

Garrison Keillor: Is the pen mightier than the voice?

Ryan Somma [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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.

CLICK HERE FOR MORE INSIGHTS FROM DENISE on this multi-talented author and radio broadcaster, Garrison Keillor.

Bill Ptacek was inspiring

Guest Bill Ptacek CPL with Margaret at our April 2019 Spring Luncheon

How honoured we were, to have Mr. Bill Ptacek, CEO of the Calgary Public Library, join our Club’s special events over the last few years. As if he didn’t have anything else to do! (Search “Bill Ptacek” for more on this site.)

As reported by Christina Frangou, he “dedicated his career to public libraries in both U.S. and Canadian cities, modernizing, expanding and reshaping them into places where people can gather.” He made an enormous difference to our entire City, and in June was named Calgary’s Citizen of the Year.

We join so many other Calgarians in mourning his passing.

“Life isn’t worth living if you don’t have a good book going as far as I’m concerned.” (Bill Ptacek)

Frangou, Christina. “The American who helped Calgary’s libraries begin a new chapter.” August 19, 2019.

William Duma: Art Show

Sebastian Grünwald [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The artist’s last name should ring a bell for CWLC ladies: It’s Anne Marie’s husband. The show Twilight & Nocturne/Rivers & Streams will run from October 26 to November 13 at Wallace Galleries (#100, 500 – 5 Avenue SW.)

A reception is being held Saturday, October 26, 2-5 PM. Anne Marie & Bill will be there, accompanied by live jazz. Why not mark your calendars and join a Happening? It would be fun to bump into each other!