Eileen McTavish Sykes award is Close Race!
I was at Aqua Books last night for one of their pre-Manitoba Book Awards evenings, where they invite the nominees of some of the awards to read.
I was there to help support two of the people I know nominated for this award: Ariel Gordon and Craig Russell. I knew virtually nothing of Sheila McClarty or Keith Cadieux before last night, and I must say I was quite delighted to meet them and hear bits of their work (the fifth nominee, Theodore Fontaine, was unable to attend; since he was one of our guests at THIN AIR 2010 I had already heard him read before, although it would have been nice to see him again, as he is a pretty swell guy).
Kelly Hughes, the Man Himself, hosted, despite a horrible cold. He was quite funny, although nasally and coughy, and reminded me of Classic Kelly, before the days of 400+ events, before the days of the now bi-weekly new books update, and before the days he started to poo-poo all my very knowledgable and helpful advice. ;)
Ariel read from her poetry collection HUMP, steering away from nipples and breasts but serving up a deluge of water breaking and morning sickness poems instead (see what I did there? Heh). Very nice readings as well, interspersed with her typical Ariel humour which is always as bracing as a polar dip, but very funny.
Craig read from the beginning of Black Bottle Man, a book I absolutely love. Craig didn't so much as deliver humour as he was the object of humour from Kelly throughout the evening, but he took it all in good form.
Sheila read from her short story collection, High Speed Crow, touching on the beginning of two of the stories. I must say the second story about Edison testing electricity on an elephant from the 30's was very engaging and tragic. The story I mean, was tragic, not the reading. Sheila read quite well.
And Keith read bits and bobs from his novella Gaze, which was very H.P. Lovecraftian in its delivery about a man building something called a psychomanteum, which just by its very name gives me shivers, but the fact that it is a room built out of mirrors where one sits in the dark to gaze into the reflecting darkness simply scared the living shit out of me. Well done Keith. I didn't sleep a wink last night.
So the readings were all excellent, and I discovered two new authors! Best of luck to all on Sunday's Manitoba Book Awards!