by Louella Lester
I was a bit nervous while waiting for the start of Thursday’s Mainstage event, Absurdity Loves Company Too. I was worried because I know that it doesn’t take much to distract me. I could drift off, start thinking about some unrelated topic, during one of the author’s readings. Or I might notice the pattern on another audience member’s shirt and find myself speculating about fashion choices. I could end up going home without enough material to write the blog.
But that didn’t happen.
The audience, including me, was hooked right from the start. Right from the little poem about Winnipeg, through chicken jokes and lines about absurdity (see this blog title), to shrink talk and speculation about screwing in lightbulbs, all the way to the pigeon song and beyond.
Why had I worried? How could the absurd, mixed with such talented writers, not hold my attention?
|L-R: MAC Farrant, Eric McCormack & Nicholas Ruddock|
That little poem mentioned above was recited by Nicholas Ruddock (How Loveta Got Her Baby) and
because it was about Winnipeg he had us eating out of his hand before he even began reading his entertaining tales. One story involved bats behind cracks in the plaster, which interested me because I’m still getting over the night one fell from my balcony door onto my foot. In another story a women’s underpants are scrunched up in her purse, but I won’t discuss any insight I may have about that topic.
MAC Farrant (The World Afloat) discussed her use of narrative, a prose poem and a joke to tell a story. She then cracked up the audience with her miniatures about a couple sharing a hard candy, chickens crossing the road and Olivia losing the fur that coated her body. Personally, I could really relate to the latter having started my life-long hair removal journey at the age of eleven after a boy teased me about my hairy legs.
I stole one of Eric McCormack’s (Cloud) lines about absurdity for my title. He shared a few, then went on to hypnotize us with a reading from his novel about a man discovering a book describing an obsidian cloud forming over a town in Scotland. The cloud reflected everything below it, buildings, cats and lovers included. Or maybe it was actually a different planet…
Maurice Mierau (Detachment: An Adoption Memoir) had us chuckling as he described his first encounter with his shrink, a women who has the same name as his first wife. But the mood changed and we listened hard as he intertwined the traumatic experiences of his adopted sons with those of his father. And I don’t think Mierau was the only person in the room with misty eyes when he read about his son preparing the funeral for a beloved cat.
|L-R: Kathleen Winter, Maurice Mierau & Denise Roig|
Who knew there could be so many ways to screw in a lightbulb in Abu Dhabi? Denise Roig (Brilliant) got us laughing again. Her stories come from a land that she says is full contradictions and extremes, like the endless desert juxtaposed with the highest skyscrapers. Her stories aren’t only about lightbulbs. Roig’s characters share gossip. They talk about a sheik who dismissed a young women after a weekend of pleasure. She was put into a car that would take her to the airport. The car was filled with money, the woman’s perfect face sticking out between the layers. As the car drove away bills flew out the windows. I wouldn’t have minded walking down that street, although…
Kathleen Winter (The Freedom in American Songs and Boundless: Mapping Geography and Spirit in the Northwest Passage) didn’t read to us and that was okay because she sang. Her humorous songs about pigeons and adjusting to new eyeglasses, something with which Jesus never had to contend, added a lovely touch of the absurd. A perfect end to the night, especially when Charlene Diehl, the festival’s director and the host, pointed out the evening was being recorded and she’d send the link to Winter.
Absurdity Loves Company Too was a great evening, though I was a bit disappointed that nothing absurd happened on my way home. I’ll just have to read all of those books to get that.