Hamilton native and creative writing teacher, author Gary Barwin captivated the audience with his reading which was from the point of view of a parrot (he did point out that he did not look at this event as 5:1 women to men but 5:1 books that were not narrated by a parrot). His enthusiasm and theatrical delivery helped readers to pronounce the Yiddish words that they have been reading. Unfortunately, I am only halfway through this book yet his reading made me even more keen to finish his novel but now I will be reading hearing his narration in my head. His humour lit up the stage and he seemed so comfortable sharing his story and answering questions in front of a large audience of book lovers.
I always love knowing what authors are reading or what they tend to re-read. Barwin goes back to Kafka and Beckett both of which I have not yet had the pleasure to read (thanks Gary for helping my TBR pile to continue to climb)! He finds books by these authors to be “inspiring” and “comforting” and had the audience chuckling as he shared that he tends to listen to Kafka as he fills out his taxes.
As a teacher, he spoke of his appreciation of teachers who can suggest other authors to read if students are struggling with their material. Teachers can help to “explain what you are trying to do” and offer advice. Feedback that he had once received was that he had “far to little to say and took far to long to say it”.
He shared that his inspiration “comes from the fog” and used his hands to describe how ideas are like whirlpools, gaining energy and “all sorts of stuff gets pulled in”. He described it as a “horrifying black hole” that becomes a novel. When thinking of his characters, he tries to imaging being in their situations and to take himself “back as if I am standing beside my character” in a “journey of imagination”.
I appreciated that Gary owns his work, he has no regrets and feels that his books reflect how he has grown and “developed as a writer”. He reiterates that each book “has their place in the world. I have to own them”.
I wish Gary good luck tonight and am looking forward to finishing the action packed Yiddish for Pirates. I love historical fiction and combining learning and storytelling and this novel meets both categories. Thanks to my colleague Julie who had recommended this novel before the Giller shortlist was even announced!