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Reading: Janice Kulyk Keefer

33609Janice Kulyk Keefer will open the 2007-2008 Reading Series at the Charles W. Stockey Centre for the Performing Arts on Tuesday, September 25, at 7:30 p.m. Co-presented by Parry Sound Books and the Charles W. Stockey Centre, with financial assistance from the Canada Council for the Arts, this is an opportunity for Parry Sounders to enjoy the experience of listening to premier Canadian authors talk about their work.

Janice Kulyk Keefer is widely admired for her novels, short story collections, poetry and non-fiction, including Thieves, Honey and Ashes, The Green Library (nominated for a Governor General's Award), The Paris-Napoli Express, Constellations, Under Eastern Eyes (also nominated for a Governor General's Award), Reading Mavis Gallant, Travelling Ladies and Rest Harrow. She is a recipient of the Marian Engel Award, the Canadian Authors Association Award for Poetry, and two prizes from the CBC Radio Literary Competition and several national magazine awards.

The Ladies' Lending Library is Janice Kulyk Keefer's most recent novel, a bittersweet tale about mothers, daughters, friends and lovers in 1960s cottage country – a Georgian Bay beach community. It is also about the books we read in the summers, the relationships between the women, and the lives they live during the week while the husbands work in the city.

Janice Kulyk Keefer says "It wasn't difficult to imagine the lives of the girls and women of Kalyna Beach being shaped by the books they read and the films they saw: for me, imagination has always been as important a realm as ‘the real world’ – reality is a kaleidoscopic fusion of what is and what might be. I can't imagine living through any experience without the company of imagined worlds, people, and places to guide and encourage me."

I suspect that all of us who were readers as young children – having the ability to read an adult novel, but lacking the maturity to understand it – will relate to the children in this novel. I remember sneaking off with The Carpetbaggers in 1961 and thinking it was a bore – I was just too young to get it. Janice Kulyk Keefer told an interviewer "I simply had to recall the books I found by snooping through my mother's bedside table circa 1963, and by comparing the titles with those of the books found by my friends in their mothers' hiding places! I did have a puzzling experience with one notorious book about which there was a buzz that reached the ears even of 11-year-olds like me, and that was Fanny Hill, Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure. I was thrilled to find a copy of it in, of all places, a kitchen cupboard. When I sneaked it up to the bathroom (the only room in our open-plan suburban house with a lock on the door) and sat down to read I discovered, however, that it was not Fanny Hill but the Fanny Farmer Cookbook that I'd absconded with."

As our own summer comes to an end, we can especially relate to the words of Janice Kulyk Keefer: "The rhythm of summer itself involves a loss of innocence, or at least, a diminishment of the joy we feel at the beginning of this most luxuriant of seasons as the weeks go by, and August approaches and then, all too quickly, ends, the way a ride on a Ferris wheel ends in that sad glide into ground-level stillness."

Treat yourself to a very special evening as this summer ends when you join other readers and book lovers at the Charles W. Stockey Centre next Tuesday evening.

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