Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Let the Book Launches Begin!

It's that time of season again. THIN AIR 2008 is right around the corner (put on by yours truly at the Winnipeg International Writers Festival of course) and that means lots of new books to be released in the Fall!

Some of the writers launching in August and September will be appearing on our stages at the festival...I can't say more until September 3rd, when our official press conference takes place, but suffice it to say we've got lots of great local talent this year!

Two nights ago I attended perhaps this city's most anticipated book launch of 2008: Andrew Davidson with his first book, "The Gargoyle." Why so much anticipation? Because he received a 1.25 million dollar advance from Random House. Oh, and his book has also been sold in over 20 countries, so after all those advances he's now looking at more like 2.5 million in advances.

We call him the "Million Dollar Man" at the office. And I can safely tell you that he is coming to THIN AIR 2008.

Anyhoos, the launch.
Well, it was quite the party. Close to 250 people packed into the McNally Robinson (Polo Park) events alcove, and it was very roomy (the new location kicks ass, quite personally). Most of the people there were family and friends, but that's what most first book launches are, right? And this one, as he himself mentioned in an interview and at the launch, was perhaps his most important event because of that.

I got to meet with him briefly before everything started. He seems really nice, down to earth, and he's excited as all hell to be part of the festival! As for his reading, he was quite animated, funny, played the crowd really well, and read nicely. Exactly what you hope for in a writer! (many times a writer is great on paper...and not so great a performer).

Next up on the old book launch list: Daria Salamon's Bitchy Bridesmaid...sorry! That should be "Prairie Bridesmaid." (heh-heh) Quite a good book, although the narrator is quite the pessimist, hates everything and everyone, and kinda gets on your nerves by the 3/4 point. But, that's who she is and you better deal with it as a reader! Overall, very well written, and to quote a phrase from David Bergen, perfect "Prairie Angst!"

Time to get back on the Blog Saddle!

Well, it has been a while!

I had had good intentions to keep up the blogging for a bit, particularly during the Fringe...and I kinda fell off the wagon. Oops.

Okay, quick update: yes, Tanya and I did see lots of Fringe shows, fifteen in total to be exact. Most were quite excellent. On the second Wednesday we saw 5 in one day! For those of you who actually Fringe, the excitement of being in the midst of all that energy is such a thrill. Walking through the market, buying the food from the vendors, wandering through the little kiosks, standing in line (yes, standing in line for Fringe shows is cool...don't ask me why). In general, just being surrounded by other people excited to watch Fringe plays, and getting to talk to the actors afterwards is very thrilling. It is, really.

Some shows of note:

Die Roten Punkte (the red dots); german punk band, modelled after the White Stripes. Basically, the concept is that you are at their concert, and they sing for you (quite good) and banter back and forth with the audience and each other. Awesomeness.

The Bush Ladies; four literary powerhouses during the early colonists, these four women tell their tales of early pioneers in Canada. Fantastic.

The Movies: Abridged; the two dudes from Killing Kevin Spacey and an english dude...not so good. Disappointing, really. Some two-bit impressions and bad jokes. Meh.

Teaching the Fringe; a veteran of the Fringe circuit talks about getting a nasty letter after one Fringe show he did in Winnipeg, and his reaction to it, along with other hilarious tidbits of doing Fringe shows around the world. Really great.

The Wizard of One; one-man show, muliple characters, retelling of the wizard of oz from inside an old folks home. Loved it. Excellent!

Spiral Dive; WWII pilots. Fantastic drama. Amazing rendition of the flying - the actor/pilot would sit in a chair, weave back and forth, pretending to be using controls, while sound effects and music played, and two other actors moved wood-cut models of the planes in question beside him. Sounds silly, but it worked wonderfully.

All in all, an excellent Fringe Experience! And basically, after all costs involved, our big vacation for the year. Eep!