Nino Ricci presented his newest book, Sleep to an eager audience at the Grimsby Author Series. As always, the moderator did a fantastic job introducing the Ricci and highlighting the novel in a succinct but thoughtful manner. Ricci discussed his newest novel, entertained the group with a reading and answered audience questions prior to the book signing.
Ricci grew up in Leamington, Ontario. He is the son of immigrant Italian parents and noted that he had developed a love of reading at the Leamington Public Library. His website reports that he currently resides in Toronto with his family.
He characterized David Pace, the main character of Sleep, as a “bit of a jerk” who seems to go out of his way to be destructive to himself and others as a result of a sleep disorder. He described the importance of pushing the reader into uncomfortable places and challenging them to really think about issues “safely in fiction that we could not confront in the real world”. He wanted the readers to think about the fact that given different circumstances individuals could be brought to this level of destruction and that the “veneer of civilization can disappear in an instant”.
The author spoke about reader’s tendencies to want to like characters while he views literature as a vehicle to “question our assumptions and see beyond them”. As I had some difficult relating to this novel, I think that this was an interesting perspective. I had struggled with the storyline, not liking the main character and looking for more detail about the health challenges and relationship issues which is more comfortable than thinking of guns and violence.
He shared that his idea to write about a sleep disorder came from his own challenges with a mild sleep disorder. He talked about the lack of knowledge about sleep and how sleep disorders are becoming an epidemic exacerbated by the use of screens and devices. He gave a quick overview of the importance of sleep in relation to learning, remembering and body repair.
Ricci was an interesting speaker and inserted humour into the evening. When asked to compare Pierre Elliot Trudeau (he had written a book about him) to Justin, he said that he could not really comment. What he did say was that Pierre had been groomed and trained for the role of prime minister and got the audience laughing when he said he was “relieved to see him (Justin) in office and not the other guy.”
It was a very interesting presentation and I am happy to have a signed copy of Sleep.