Coming up in the last week of May, first month of June, Yellowknife's Northwords Writers Festival heads into its 8th year. I used to serve on their board of directors and used to get to schmooze a bit more with the authors than I do now as a spectator. They do have a pretty cool line up this year. However, given the fact that I've reviewed works by most of them, it's probably safer that I keep my distance. Nah, most authors (won't mention Anneray Iceray) have a thick skin about these things. When Cathleen With was a Northwords guest a few years back, she called me out in a room full of people and we actually became friends afterwards.
I thought I'd introduce who this year's guests are by looking back at some of my reviews:
1. Douglas Coupland. Clearly the headliner. I know they've been trying to get him ever since I was involved, so this is quite a coup (hey, like in his name), for them. I've reviewed him a few times on the Book Mine Set:
Souvenir of Canada (split up over a few posts: here, here, and here)
Generation X (again split into multiple posts: here and here)
Shampoo Planet (just the one post)
Will I survive a Douglas Coupland encounter? Well, I'm slightly warmer than lukewarm in my Souvenir and Generation X reviews, but I gave a negative (not my harshest by any means, but far from glowing) review of Shampoo Planet. Still, Coupland's been reviewed a hundred thousand times, positively and negatively, and by bigger folks than me. I doubt very much he's even read my reviews, and doubt even less that he'd care. Verdict? Even if I get past the bodyguards and entourage, I'll survive.
2. Giles Blunt- I've heard of him, and had planned on reading Black Fly Season, but alas, I've not read anything by him.
Will I survive a Giles Blunt encounter? I'm unlikely to approach an author I've not read. I've heard of you isn't exactly a compliment. But I've shared a drink with a few authors I've not read before and they've been pretty cool about it. We just talk about other things. Verdict: I'll survive.
3. Vicki Delany- Not only did I give her Gold Mountain a positive review, but she wrote and thanked me for it.
Will I survive a Vicki Delany encounter? Absolutely. She might keep her distance if a couple others on this list mention me, but otherwise, I hope I do get a chance to meet her. Verdict: Definite survival.
4. Barbara Fradkin- Don't recall who she is, though my archives show that participants in my Canadian Book Challenge have read her books, so her name's definitely come across my radar before.Apparently she's the author of such books as Fifth Son and Honour Among Men.
Will I survive a Barbara Fradkin encounter? I would have if I didn't just write "who the hell is she?" above. To that I'd say, have you ever heard of me? And she'd say touche and we'll move on from there. Verdict: I'll survive.
5. Heather Macleod: I could almost say the exact same about her as I did about Fradkin, except that even my readers seem in the dark about her. To be fair, there aren't a lot of people reading or reviewing poetry. Still I respect the hell out of good poets, so I'd like to read her work even if I'd not heard of her until now.
Will I survive a Heather MacLeod encounter? Poets are gentle right? Right? Even though as I write this, I can think of a dozen poets who are definitely not gentle, my verdict: I'll survive.
6. Reneltta Arluk: I was not kind to her Thoughts and Other Human Tendencies. I think she might currently live right here in Yellowknife (someone correct me if I'm wrong), so I'm surprised I've not already bumped into her. Then, until seeing her picture on the Northwords website, I had no idea what she looked like, so there's a chance our paths have crossed before.
Will I survive a Renaltta Arluk encounter? It depends on if her friends are around. Allow me to explain. Shortly after writing that review, I started noticing a lot of Facebook links in my stats. I was able to trace it back to a link to my review that Arluk herself posted on her Facebook page. Her friends tore me a new one. Arluk, in her defense, simply wrote "ouch!" beside the link. Verdict: I think so. She seemed to take a higher road than either me or her Facebook friends.
7. Sylvia Olsen: I gave a mostly positive review to her Yellow Line a couple years back, no idea if she ever stumble upon it.
Will I survive a Sylvia Olsen encounter? Definitely. Verdict? Well, I just said it, di'nt I? (Try, for no reason, to hear Ricky Gervais saying that.)
Plus a lot more local authors whom I've already met.
If you haven't already booked your tickets to Yellowknife, you have just one month to raise the $18,000 air fare to visit and take in the fabulous Northwords Writers Festival!