Tuesday, September 25, 2012

WordFest presents Richard Ford

My association with WordFest in Calgary has granted me many great opportunities to hear different authors and artists talk about their craft and their work.  Today I'm happy to report it has had another connection with the list, as last night I attended a reading with Richard Ford, author of my 37th read, The Sportswriter, at the John Dutton Theatre.  Ford joining local author Aritha Van Herk to read from and discuss his latest novel, Canada.

And what an interview it was, I was truly impressed.  Richard Ford was a pleasure to listen to, both as he was reading and as he was answering questions.  With candour and wit, he not only gave thoughtful answers to every question, but also backed them up with stories from his personal and professional experiences.  There weren't any one word or rehearsed answers that so many authors seem to give at similar events.

The reason he wore purple socks was because "his pink ones were dirty."  They didn't title the book Saskatchewan (where it mostly takes place) because "it's easy to draw, but hard to pronounce." And the last book he re-read was The Moviegoer by Walker Percy.

It did take a few minutes to sink in for me once he started talking that he is indeed from Jackson, Mississippi.  Even though I knew he was from Jackson, his Southern accent threw me for a loop.  Eventually it dawned on me; I was under the impression he was from New Jersey by way of Michigan, just as Frank Bascombe, protagonist in The Sportswriter, was.  Of course he isn't Frank Bascombe and nor do they share a heritage.
Richard Ford and 'What's his Face'
I regret that I hadn't read Canada before the event, as if having done so would give me extra insight into the discussion.  But on the flip side, I now have something to really look forward to reading.  So taken was I with the author as a person, and intrigued by what I've heard of the book, I did something I so rarely do; I bought a copy.  I don't remember the last time I bought a hardcover book.  Really, I don't.  But this signed copy will look quite nice on my shelf, as it waits to be read.

But as keen as I am to read Canada, I will not be picking it up for quite some time.  After all, I still have 1300 pages of Lord of the Rings, as well as 38 other books to read.  Not to mention a few WordFest titles to look after too.


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