Miscellanea: September

BOOKS, BOOKS, BOOKS…

Listening, reading, launching: The Winnipeg International Writers Festival (Thin Air) is in full swing here in our city, so I’m trying to take in most of the mainstage events as well as some of the “book chats” and “big ideas” sessions. Yesterday’s “big idea” was Allan Levine’s take on the “odd, though probably not crazy” William Lyon Mackenzie King. Tonight’s mainstage will feature David Bergen (The Age of Hope) and Richard Ford, whose Canada I’m halfway through reading and enjoying very much.

H. and I are looking forward to a drive to Neepawa on Friday. It’s a beautiful town perched around a valley in midwestern Manitoba, also famous as the home of writer Margaret Laurence. Our destination, in fact, is the Margaret Laurence House, where I’ll be doing a reading, along with Laurie Block, Chris Rutkowski, and a local resident featuring Laurence’s work, in an event sponsored by the Manitoba Writers Guild.

All this activity keeps the inevitable jitters at bay as I count down – one week from today – to the launch of What You Get at Home. More about that, post-launch, post-jitters.

Good reminders, good tips: The read-aloud book for H. and me on a recent road trip and our days of camping was Elsie Rempel’s Please Pass the Faith: The Art of Spiritual Grandparenting. We appreciated its call to embrace the role – “young seniors” aren’t always ready to take on anything that too much resembles being old! – whether for biological grandchildren or others of the younger generation wherever they intersect our lives. Rempel reviews the stages of faith and suggests the use of family stories and  holiday celebrations as natural loving ways to engage in spiritual conversation. 

Watch for it: I spent last Friday with a lovely group of people – the reader’s committee for a history of Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) in Canada that Esther Epp-Thiessen has written and is putting the final revisions on. The book will be launched next year, the 50th anniversary of MCC Canada’s formal beginning, and will probably be the focus of a conference December 2013. Institutional histories may not be the most exciting genre in the world, but Epp-Thiessen has written a solid and compelling and honest piece of work about an organization that has somehow managed, in spite of its failures and struggles, to be a unifying force within the wide and diverse tent of its supporting constituency and to respond both compassionately and passionately to a range of needs and issues in the wider world.

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