Spotty WiFi on the Via train back from Kingston, where half the town partied drunkenly under the far-from soundproof window of my hotel room until the small hours, has kept me from reporting on last night’s reading, or on the wood duck I spotted in a pond by the railway tracks somewhere up near Belleville, this latter proof in my personal calculus that all is right in my world.
Alexander MacLeod and I read last night at the Novel Idea bookshop in Kingston, a nice little shop that, judging from the inventory on hand, is doing much better than its independent counterpart here in London.
Steven Heighton did the introductions, and kicked the evening off with a reading from a poem and from Every Lost Country. His poem, on Eden Abergil, the former Israeli soldier who posted photographs of herself posing with Palestinian prisoners, trenchantly pointed out that we are no longer shocked by these things. Perhaps we’re no longer capable of being shocked. And this recalled Alexander MacLeod’s introductory remarks before I read in Montreal, in which he pointed out that war and pornography are the two things to which we have become utterly desensitized, and that one of the achievements of Combat Camera is to resensitize the reader. I can’t remember his wording. I was chiefly shocked, at the time, to discover that the book doesn’t suck.
Alex read from “The Loop.” Every time I’ve seen him read, he has used a different story, and every time, I find myself thinking, oh, yeah. That one. That’s a good story. Every time, without fail. So that’s as good a measure of why you should read Light Lifting as any — perhaps a better measure than any.
Both Alex (who has been on the road longer) and I were by last night entirely enervated, and so our post-reading celebrations were brief and involved that rare luxury, a prepared meal. And this allowed me to reprise an old discussion with Steven Heighton. (I had hoped he had forgotten my snotty, May 2010 self, but this was not the case.) We are, it turns out, united in our distrust of the externally imposed plot, which of course also makes me hopeless at writing genre fiction. I suppose there are worse fates.