The thing about glitter is if you get it on you, be prepared to have it on you forever. Glitter is the herpes of craft supplies.
Demetri Martin

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Beginning of a Beautiful Friendship

Starting a new relationship is often made delightful through the carefree re-explorations of everyday things. But different, of course, because it's with someone else. Being the reclusive introverted loner that I am, my experiences in this area have often been shared with books - or rather, authors. I love to learn how other people view the things I encounter daily, and how passing thoughts and encounters are interpreted by other minds. I find it rather captivating.

Yesterday I courageously embarked on a new friendship with Canadian author Ann-Marie MacDonald. For many years I have seen MacDonald's books in libraries and new and used book stores, yet I have only now gained the courage to walk across the room and metaphorically break the ice. She's always seemed so cool and refined and is unfailingly surrounded by her impassioned and loyal friends - surely she wouldn't care to meet someone as Andrea as me. And yet I found myself intrigued and, as is often the case, temptation won out.

With a few hours to myself the other day, I decided to take a walk down to The Odd Book, a great used book store here in Wolfville. Having recently ended my torrid affair with Margaret Atwood's The Blind Assassin and mysteriously misplaced my used copy of John Irving's The Hotel New Hampshire, I was in the market for a friend with a bit of guts and a certain degree of witticism who wasn't going to wonder away when someone more happening came along. Accordingly, as one is inclined to do in search of fellow intellects, I meandered over to the Canadian Literature section.

It was there that I made my move. I affixed a disinterested expression, introduced myself, made a stupid comment on the summer heat and the underachieving culture of air conditioners ... and done: new best friend! I think she was drawn to my clever banter and irresistible charm, but I could be wrong.

Right away I bonded with MacDonald's narrative in The Way the Crow Flies. Her descriptions and impressions - it was as though she knew just what I'd always been thinking. Scary, what with my fascination concerning the mundane and ordinary. Hey, it takes special talent to make peeling paint entertaining, and those of us who thus thrive - regardless of our achievements and failures - need to stick together.

It has just occurred to me that I may be discrediting MacDonald's talents as an author. This is not my intention. I am merely trying to highlight the essence of a good storyteller: someone who can captivate others with their recount of the everyday world, sometimes with very little to work with aside from their imagination and articulation.

I especially love when you find a passage from an author who succeeds in describing otherwise unremarkable experiences or situations in a way that truly captures their essence and 'speaks' to you. As you would expect from my well documented track record as an intellectual hoarder, I've collected a few such excerpts from The Way The Crow Flies for your pondering.

A moving automobile is second only to the shower when it comes to singing. P. 2

Your imagination is the best entertainment of all, writing is the best technology known to man, and your teeth are more precious than pearls so look after them. P. 21

Bikes and trikes and red wagons, sprinklers going, the distant roar of a lawnmower, the smell of freshly cut grass. Kids glance up, mildly curious, strange adults wave casually at the car... P.34. Brings me back here.

The following passage left an especially personal impression (see why here):

... Everything about an air force station is new. And it will stay that way for its entire operational life. Each house, each building will be freshly painted in the same colours they have always had... The families of the PMQs will always seem like the first families to move in, they will always have young children of about the same age. Only the trees will change, grow. Like reruns on television, an air force station ever grows old. It remains in the present. Until the last flypast. Then it is demobilized, decommissioned, deconsecrated. It is sold off and all the aging, the buildup of time that was never apparent, will suddenly be upon it. It will fade like the face of an old child. Weeds, peeling paint, decaying big-eyed bungalows... P.24

As you can see, my engrossment with Ann-Marie MacDonald is only still beginning. I fear there may be more literary hoarding - and sharing - in the days and weeks to come. Lucky you.

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