The season of fall readings is upon us -- I'll take yet another opportunity to remind you of our Toronto launch of Rebecca Rosenblum's Once this coming Monday at the Gladstone -- and over at Maisonneuve Michael Carbet has a good piece on such readings, and why so many of them are bad. Here's a taste:
The whole enterprise of readings speaks to the crucial problem in contemporary literature. Namely, that it is an increasingly marginal activity. Writers accept the invitation to read because, in addition to maybe receiving some much-needed extra cash, it helps bolster the necessary illusion: an audience exists. The invitation itself counts for something, even if one ends up addressing a throng of thirteen. Similarly, the people who attend readings are on some level also aware that the occasion and the writer both need “support,” that by being present they are involved in an altruistic act. It’s difficult to avoid the conclusion that the people who go to readings, at least some of them, are essentially doing the writer a favour, performing an act of piety. It’s no accident that Smith’s drunken patron keeps asking the assembled listeners whether he’s in a bar or a church.
And the whole thing can be found here:
I can now say, after hearing her at Eden Mills, that Rebecca can hold her own and is really a very good reader. I found her fully compelling, and despite the rain and general misery of the listeners, she was able to make us forget for a few minutes that we were soaked through the bone. But, of course, she will not be reading Monday. This IS NOT a Reading Series. Which, for once -- with Leon Rooke and John Metcalf on the stage with her -- is a bloody shame. You should come out anyway.