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Last week it was the men, now meet the women

 International Festival of Authors – From the Toronto Harbourfront to the Parry Sound Harbourfront – Part 2 – The Girls. fastrupthumbnail1 The 29th Annual International Festival of Authors hits the road to Parry Sound, bringing four authors  for an afternoon reading on Sunday, Nov. 2 at the Charles W. Stockey Centre on Parry Sound’s  Harbourfront.

 Danish writer Karen Fastrup comes to Parry Sound with her novel Beloved of My 27 Senses, her first  novel to be translated into English. This is the story of three generations, in the centre of which are  Clemens Carlson, a geologist and his wife Anna Carlson, a doctor.

 We follow the story of this couple as they travel in the Libyan Desert, and the love triangle that develops.

The description of the desert, and its dangers, are wonderful. We read of Clemens and Anna as children and teenagers, and of their parents.

All of this while Clemens and Anna are again in the desert in 1971. Their son, Tore, has left his own troubled marriage to search for his parents, staying in a hotel on the edge of the desert.

“The sensory experience is the most essential element for me in my writing. I try to get as close to my subject as possible, into the very pores of their skin.

The familiar is there, but the depiction may be so detailed that the familiar becomes almost strange.” This is how Karen Fastrup characterized her own style in an interview.

mh4-100 Maggie Helwig joins Karen Fastrup, Paul Quarrington and Andrew Pyper in the quartet of authors we will  meet this weekend.

 Maggie Helwig is a poet, essayist and novelist, and a human rights activist who has worked with numerous  international organizations.

Helwig’s most recent novel is Girls Fall Down. Here’s an excerpt from the novel:

“The station was being cleared now. Announcements were sounding over the PA system, men in uniform appearing, moving people quickly to the exits.

A second crowd arrived, coming up the elevators from the east-west line, the passengers pausing to see the confusion on the platform, their faces pinching in irritation and concern.

The girl who had fallen was sitting halfway up, clinging again to the pole. ‘Roses,’ she said. ‘It smelled like roses.’”

In an interview Maggie Helwig says, “I’m interested by how much goes on in Toronto that’s underground or at least below ground level. I mean, subways are nothing unusual, and our subway is probably less mythologized than many, but not many cities have anything like the PATH, and very few cities have several large ravines cutting right through the downtown.”

“There’s something about Toronto that’s drawn to subsurface spaces, and a lot of our fears get played out in the context of underground spaces, too—the occasional panics about people being pushed onto subway tracks, for instance.

And I think that SARS, although it was mostly transmitted in hospitals really, was somehow felt to be related to subways, people tended to talk about the subway as an infective environment, you could more or less track the progress of the general public anxiety by how full or empty the subways were and how many people on them were wearing masks, when it wasn’t so apparent above-ground.”

On Nov. 2, at 4 p.m., join the audience on the harbourfront in Parry Sound for these great readings.

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