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Word Nerds of the Outaouais, Unite!

Which title reminds me of the unfortunate graphic incident when the learning disabled community tried to get organized. They were ready. They had the banner and everything: Dyslexics of the World, Untie! So close to being write. (So close to humour! ‘Kay, how ‘bout this: What’s the difference between bagpipes and an onion? Nobody cries when you cut up a set of bagpipes…)

Barbara Gowdy at WritersFest

ANYway…I’ll be doing some thinking-online this week about what I’m able to see of the Spring Edition of the Ottawa Writers’ Festival. Last night was great, but first let me say that I must read more Barbara Gowdy. She is blonde and pretty and so darned smart! The Romantic was a fascinating, sad and hypnotic book, its Abel being one of the most interesting and frustrating characters I’ve read recently. I’ve long meant to read The White Bone (the “elephant book”), which I understand is desperately sad; mind you, I’m mourning Kurt Vonnegut these days, so sadness artfully done is literary catnip for me. Gowdy has just come out with her latest novel, called Helpless. It’s about a child abduction, and the perp is at least partly a sympathetic character. Monday night, she spoke about this choice, criticized in some circles, arguing that the psychopath is a boring character precisely because of the lack of conscience, the amorality that is so central to that pathology. Interesting, as was this: “Never before have little girls been so sexualized, and never before has men’s interest in them been so vilified.” She is deeply shy, but the subtleties of her writing (and her speech) are rich and full of wit. She is convinced that she will never write again, and has taken up plastering.

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