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International Festival of Authors Wednesday 23 October

The International Festival of Authors Parry Sound presents an evening to celebrate the written word, with readings by four authors – Lewis DeSoto, Alexander Maksik, Janet E. Cameron and Nicole Lundrigan - Wednesday 23 October at the Charles W. Stockey Centre. This week’s review has been written by Stevan McCallum, an educator currently teaching at our local High School, and a member of the committee that arranges to bring authors to Parry Sound.

A Marker to Measure Drift by Alexander Maksik – reviewed by Stevan McCallum When readers encounter a gifted writer with an important story to tell, they are afforded an opportunity to enter the minds of people they might never happen upon in a lifetime. Such readers can easily be transported across oceans, and through time, to destinations they could never otherwise look upon. In Alexander Maksik’s second novel A Marker to Measure Drift, he leads readers to places, and into people’s lives, which are at once enlightening and uncomfortable, but frighteningly believable.

Readers follow Jacqueline, a woman who has fled Liberia in the early-going of the Second Liberian Civil War. We are at times eavesdropping on her imagined conversations with the sister and mother left behind. At other times, we witness her fond recollections of her not-too-distant past. Both occur as she finds her way around a Greek Island.

Jacqueline, however, is only playing the part of a tourist. She has arrived illegally and carries with her little more than memories of her family (memories she struggles to keep, and it is only in the end we understand their value). Passing as an American student with impeccable English, we are reminded of her facts: “You are alone. You have the clothes you’re wearing. You have the contents of your pack. Including twenty euros. It will soon by night. It will soon be colder. You are thirsty. You will soon be hungry again.”

I found Jacqueline’s situation so vivid I couldn’t help feel I would make many of her same decisions. I also found her concerns believable: she takes great pain to avoid looking homeless, recognizing that she will be treated differently if she is discovered to be homeless--a fate she seems to dread more than being arrested. The desire to pass as a tourist often supersedes hunger, shelter or friendship.

It is between Jacqueline and reader where a vital parallel is created. At points, like her, we desire for her to meet someone, hope she can find the courage to ask for help, and question the methods of her parents. The parallel remains through to the end where I struggled hearing Jacqueline’s story as much as she did telling it. Moreover, the shock I experienced in hearing the story is minute compared to the shock Jacqueline experiences living it.

Though despite the focus on Jacqueline, Maksik offers other characters with whom we are able to see ourselves...or potential selves. In the tourists, residents of the island, and others like Jacqueline, we are presented with a variety of attitudes to Jacqueline. Her desire to form relationships is developed alongside the reader’s snapshots of tourists, some which hit close to home. It was in these other characters I questioned, which character am I most like? Which tourists have I been? And, most telling, am I the person who resembles the character I’d most like to be?

If fiction is about taking readers places and offering new or different perspectives, then we can be thankful our escape is figurative. To know that Jacqueline’s escape was a necessity--and is a necessary and literal escape playing-out with great frequency in our newspapers and television--is horrifying.

Alexander Maksik will read from A Marker to Measure Drift at the Charles W. Stockey Centre tonight at 7:30 pm.




Call Parry Sound Books at 705-746-7625 or send us an email at to place your bid


Auction will close on Wednesday 23 October 2012 at the end of the intermission

Set #1 Cities of Refuge by Michael Helm The Obituary by Gail Scott The Boys in the Trees by Mary Swan

Set #2 American Youth by Phil Lamarche Saints of New York by R J Ellroy Some Great Idea by Edward Keenan

Set#3 Dogs at the Perimeter by Madeleine Thien On Sal Mal Lane by Ru Freeman Bleed For Me by Michael Robotham Set #4 Be Near Me by Andrew O’Hagan Underground by Antanas Sileika The Aftermath by Rhidian Brook

Set #5 In Calamity’s Wake by Natalee Caple The Steps Across the Water by Adam Gopnik Black Orchids by Gillian Slovo

Set #6 In The Fabled East by Adam Lewis Schroeder Fruit by Brian Francis Above All Things by Tanis Rideout

Opening bid $25 per set – Good Luck!

Noah Richler 16 October at the Stockey Centre WHAT WE TALK ABOUT WHEN WE TALK ABOUT WAR

WHAT WE TALK ABOUT WHEN WE TALK ABOUT WAR What We Talk About When We Talk About War is the most recent book by Noah Richler – an exceptional thinker and writer – in the words of Stephen Lewis, a writer of “courage and insight”.

Noah Richler will talk with us about WHAT WE TALK ABOUT WHEN WE TALK ABOUT WAR at the Charles W. Stockey Centre on Wednesday 16 October at 7:30 pm.

For each of us, what we talk about when we talk about war is as personal and as different as we are as individuals. My generation – the baby boomers – grew up as the children of those who fought in the Second World War and, or, Korea. I remember the scare of the Bay of Pigs and the Cuban Missile Crisis – we really thought it might be the end of the world – as we hid under our desks at school. We are old enough to remember the nightly news with the body count of those killed in Vietnam. We came of age during the migration of young Americans to Canada, avoiding the draft – we went to University with them, many of us married them.

I realize that as a reader, we also have a fascination with war – and wartime - in the literature that we read. Just think about how many novels are still being written that take place during the First and Second World Wars - it was a time of drama and suspense – and, as writers and readers, we love it.

Noah Richler introduces his book with a discussion about men and war – the years that boys spend preparing to be warriors. Think for a moment about how little boys play and behave, and you know exactly what he means.

As the daughter of a career officer in the Canadian military I grew up with an awareness about war – and peace. My father fought in Europe during the Second World War and in Korea – he came home in between these wars to marry, reproduce and attend officer’s training school.

For much of my father’s career he worked as a Canadian liaison officer attached to the British Armed Forces or NATO. Some postings were in Germany with his family along. There in the late 1960s our neighbor, a member of the British Armed Forces, was transferred to Ireland. It was supposed to be for a short time – the British Forces were there for years – and still there is no real peace. Then there were the “unaccompanied” postings. The Gaza strip in 1959 and 1960, “keeping the peace”. There were a few years in the early 1960s with the British in West Africa, training Ghanaian cadets for the military under Kwame Nkrumah – an army that ousted him in a coup after we returned to Canada. In 1967 and 1968 he was in Cyprus with NATO before returning to Canada, followed again by a posting to West Germany.

My father left the military by the time I was an adult, and my experience since the late 1960s is much the same as yours – news of war on television. I will admit to being a “peacenik” as a teenager – but now I am simply a confused, sad and disillusioned adult when I think about peace. I am afraid I don’t believe it is possible. I see only the destruction that war brings – and there seem to be more and more places in the world at war. We are very fortunate to be citizens of a country that has known only peace in my lifetime. Growing up I knew how lucky I was to be a Canadian and I know that now more than ever. What Noah Richler writes about is how we have changed – no longer a nation known for our peacekeepers, but a nation with a military fighting, “feet on the ground” as they say. How many members of our military have been killed in Afghanistan? That is not peace keeping. And where else are we? Where else will the men and woman currently serving in our armed forces find themselves fighting?

Margaret MacMillan, author of Paris 1919 writes, “You don’t have to agree with everything Noah Richler says — I don’t — but you must take him seriously.” What we talk about when we talk about war is an important conversation – an exploration of our past, present and future. Don’t miss this opportunity to spend an evening with Noah Richler.

International Festival of Authors - Parry Sound - at the Charles W. Stockey Centre - 23 October 2013

International Festival of Authors - Parry Sound - at the Charles W. Stockey Centre - 23 October 2013 Fall in Canada means trees in full colour, deliciously cool nights and surprisingly lovely warm days. It is also the time of year when the big literary awards are presented – weeks of suspense for the authors on the short list, are weeks that readers spend feverishly reading the nominated books and making our own predictions.

Not coincidentally fall is the season when readings are presented by the International Festival of Authors across the province of Ontario – including Parry Sound. Our local committee has been busy since last year’s event fundraising and preparing for IFOA Parry Sound, when we will present an evening to celebrate the written word, with readings by four authors – Lewis DeSoto, Alexander Maksik, Janet E. Cameron and Nicole Lundrigan.

Janet E. Cameron grew up in the Annapolis Valley of Nova Scotia, and has lived and worked in Halifax, Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver and Tokyo. A graduate of Dalhousie University, she taught in Tokyo for four years. There she met an Irish journalist who became her husband. Janet completed a Master's of Philosophy in Creative Writing from Trinity College Dublin. Her first novel, Cinnamon Toast and the End of the World, was published March 2013.

Gillian Holden, IFOA Parry Sound committee member, an educator in our community has written this week’s review.


‘Oh, Stephen, I just want to wrap my arms around you and tell you that it gets better. It really does.’ And fortunately, by the end of this heart wrenching account of Stephen Shulevitz’s childhood and adolescence, it does start to get better.

Cinnamon Toast and the End of the World, a first novel by Janet E. Cameron, features seventeen year old Stephen, finishing his final year at high school. He is an extremely intelligent student, with plans to pursue post secondary education. Having spent his early years being home schooled on a pseudo commune, it is a big adjustment for Stephen to enter Grade 3 in a regular school after his parents move the family to a nearby town. Soon after, Stephen’s father leaves the family and there is no contact with him for many years. Stephen’s mother, a victim of abuse at the hands of her father, and a proponent of the ‘do as I say, not as I do’ school of parenting, raises Stephen herself.

Throughout the story, Stephen is befriended and protected by Mark, a boy who has been his bodyguard since Grade Three when he was paid 50 cents to beat him up on the playground. Instead of carrying out the deed, Mark, a student with learning difficulties, decided to befriend Stephen in exchange for having his homework completed. But as the book begins, Stephen reveals that he is in love with Mark, a boy who is homophobic in the extreme.

Cameron deals with very heavy themes such as bullying, homophobia and teenage pregnancy in this novel which takes place in the distant 1980s. Thirty plus years later, our society is so much more familiar with these themes. As I read the book, I had to keep the timeframe at the forefront of my mind in order to understand why the violence, extremism and narrow mindedness were so strong. As well, I was constantly in fear of the possibility of Stephen taking his own life, and turned the pages with great trepidation at times.

But Cameron also deals with the themes of resilience and forgiveness. Stephen has a remarkable capacity for resilience. Despite the literally never ending bullying he has endured, he continues to look forward to the future and to associate with the people who have tormented him since he first moved to town. Despite his betrayal by his best friend, he does not seek revenge. When a new acquaintance betrays his confidence at a house party, Stephen makes the most of the experience.

Following the climax of the novel, Stephen demonstrates great strength when he forgives the perpetrator of the worst beating he has ever received. It is incredible that Stephen is not warped and destroyed by the pain and suffering he has experienced in his short life. Cinnamon Toast ends on a hopeful note, as Stephen begins a new life in which he is able to be true to himself, and find a peer group that accepts and supports him. By the end of the novel, I no longer felt I had to hug and reassure him.

Janet E. Cameron will read from Cinnamon Toast and the End of the World at the Charles W. Stockey Centre at 7:30 pm on Wednesday 23 October.


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