Sunday, September 27, 2009
Saturday, September 19, 2009
"This star-ridden, green and scented universe," she murmured.
The Book of Dreams
My friendship with Sharon Butala began with the writing of that paragraph, as I contacted her to ask for permission to put her in my book and also for permission to use the quote which is from one of her own books. Later on in my story, one of Dana's aunts, Deirdre, says "I'll be damned! You met Sharon Butala." And she and Yvonne talk about two of my favourite books by Sharon, The Perfection of the Morning and Wild Stone Heart. They are non-fiction books about the writer's relationship with the prairie landscape and the native spirits of the land. Truly beautiful works. She and I have emailed each other over the years and exchanged books. This month Sharon came to Ireland on a sightseeing tour and we finally met. In fact, I am hosting an author event for her at the Signal Arts Centre here in Bray this very evening: 7:00-9:00 pm, Albert Avenue, down near the Sea Front. Sharon will give a talk on her work and read from some of her books, including her latest The Girl in Saskatoon, about an unsolved murder of a beauty queen who was a classmate of hers back in the 1960s. Yesterday I spent the day with Sharon - brought her to Powerscourt House in Enniskerry - and I have convinced her to return to Ireland in the near future. I've spoken elsewhere about the magic of writing and how JRR Tolkien, noted linguist as well as writer, pointed out that the word "spell" means both a magical formula and a story told. Words have power. Words create reality. By writing about Sharon Butala, I ended up meeting her, just like my character. Magic. (Photo: Duane Prentice. http://www.sharonbutala.com/)
Monday, September 14, 2009
Tuesday, September 08, 2009
Sunday, September 06, 2009
I'm still convinced the book should have been called Rebecca, not Ivanhoe. She is by the far the strongest and most admirable character in the novel. Apparently Scott himself stated somewhere that she was the one most worthy of Ivanhoe's love but marriage at that time between a Christian and a Jew was unthinkable. Here's the real question: Was Ivanhoe worthy of Rebecca's love? His anti-Semitism is rampant. The author describes his "contempt" for Isaac even as he helps him and the minute he hears Rebecca is a Jewess his eyes go "cold." Whereas, the passionate Norman Bois-Guilbert, by the end of the book, is willing to give up everything - wealth, title, power, ambition - for Rebecca's love. Despite his cruelty and arrogance, Brian is presented as a passionate and tormented man (crossed in love before Rebecca as it happens), intelligent beyond his time in the way he considers all religion foolish superstition and uses the term "bigot" for the Christian anti-Semites. Truly, the two most fascinating and original characters in this book are the conflicted Rebecca and Brian, and not your standard one-dimensional heroic types seen in Richard, Robin, and Ivanhoe. Great stuff!