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A weekend off

October 24, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

I am back in London for the weekend, following my appearance at the Ottawa International Writers Festival to promote Combat Camera, and am just now getting time to post. The dog has occupied much of my time. She has had several adventures with mud over the weekend, necessitating daily baths. She has, moreover, chewed up my iPod earbuds. But of canine misdeeds, I am endlessly forgiving.

The high point of the Ottawa festival, for me, was the opportunity to meet Joshua Ferris. I had little opportunity to chat with him, unfortunately, but he seemed to me a classy and gracious guy who takes a serious attitude towards writing. I was most impressed when he was approached, just before the show, by a fan who writes for the Carleton student paper. In response to his request for an interview, Ferris said he’d be happy to, if there was time. And although the event ran long and there was, in fact, no time, there was Ferris at the end, making time for the interview. Furthermore, he remembered the guy’s name. Classy.

Less so Ken Finkleman, whose asinine contribution to the evening I shall never forget. On getting up to read, third in line, he began by declaring that readings are futile, that writers are not performers, and that H. Nigel Thomas (who read first) was a case in point. He went on to declare that “this venue sucks,” to disparage literary events, the literary crowd, and fiction writers in general, and to interrupt others (and the moderator) during the panel discussion. Further notable contributions to the panel discussion included his question to Joshua Ferris: “I’m sorry, I’ve forgotten your name?”

One audience member was moved to come up to H. Nigel Thomas at the signing table (at which Ken Finkleman did not deign to sit) and to say, “I’m so sorry you had to go through that.” And Ferris, back at the hotel, left the room when the topic came up, saying over his shoulder that he felt badly for the audience.

As for me, I am, as noted above, endlessly forgiving of canine misdeeds.

It can hardly escape the reader’s attention that Ken Finkleman is not a dog.

I can say only that given our relative ages, I am likely one day to have the pleasure of reading his obituary.

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