Friday, March 30, 2007

Steven Price

Went to a reading at the library tonight. Weird event, full of unintentionally hilarious moments. Totally inept host/moderator, bungling titles, saying inadvertently insulting things about readers' books and just overall disorganized. It was supposed to be a reading followed by a discussion about "writing in unreaderly times," but the moderator gave no focus to anything and just let the thing get hijacked by oddballs who were going on about 8-tracks and Gandhi.

One of the readers, Trevor Carolan, seems totally mired in the sixties and all things beatific; there were some cringe-making things in his reading from his latest book, The Pillowbook of Dr. Jazz. Yes, you heard right, The Pillowbook of Dr. Jazz; he calls it autobiographical fiction. All I know is that I had to bite my lip--damn near bit through the fucker--not to burst out laughing at his erotic tai chi scene.

MAC Farrant was better, had some interesting moments, but her stuff didn't grab me.

Steven Price, in spite of a cold, was great. His book is one of the best published in recent years; I really like his style. He read well, too; I got a couple of those elusive poetry-reading spine-tingles listening to him. Very poised, very smart.

Rachel and I had a few drinks afterwards with Steven, Amanda Lamarche (see my review) and another fellah who knew them both from university. Great conversations: intellectual, artistic, casual--even scatological (Steven and Amanda's friend Spencer related the story of how he accidentally dropped his wallet on his "business" and, after saving the crucial contents--of the wallet, not the business--decided to flush it--the wallet and the business--and build himself a new billfold out of duct tape).

If you're looking for one book of contemporary poetry, you can't go wrong with Steven's Anatomy of Keys, a book length sequence on the life of Harry Houdini. Like Rachel, he's up for a BC Book Prize, though in a different category, which leaves me free to root for AoK; he's up against some big-name competition, but if there's justice, the jury will reward excellence over reputation.

AoK has been very well-reviewed:

My review at Quill & Quire

THIS Magazine

The Globe and Mail

Books in Canada
(by Patrick Warner, probably the best review of the book I've read--and I'm not saying that just because I'm mentioned in it.)

The Dominion

Toronto Star

Magic: the magazine for magicians

Eye Weekly

We've got a review of it in the next Canadian Notes & Queries, too.

Here's an excerpt.

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