Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Canadian Authors Association -West Coast Branch


Another year of CAA high capers was innaugerated at the Howe Street Alliance for Arts Building. Bernice Lever's latest book of poetry, Generations was selling like literary hotcakes. Anthony Dalton's newest publication was also just announced. Margaret Hume opened the meeting then Jean Kay spoke again of Can West the literary event of all time happening in June next year in Victoria.
In a minor aside I was asked to read a bit of humorous writing about a mentally ill alcoholic patient I escorted on a 747 when he loudly threatened to hijack the plane if he wasn't given a drink
Neil McKinnon. Stephen Leacock Award finalist, the main act, read from his hilarious 2006 Thistledown Press book, Tuckahoe Slidebottle, a collection of short fiction which Neil shared was most appreciated by seniors. Age, culture and gender, he explained were strong factors in what we found funny. Discussing the writing of humor he pointed out that Surprise, Misfortune and the Forbidden were involved in what made us laugh. Using the example of a pope on a skateboad as an inconguity he gave example after examples ranging from the speeches of Disraeli to the writings of Thurber and Twain. He said that writing comedy was complex and difficult because comedy was so subjective whereas tragedy could be simple and universal. Describing Tragedy as the movement from Order (the normal place we live) to Disorder (where we escape to) he said Romance was the opposite movement from Disorder to Order. In a contrast Comedy and Madness could be viewed the same way, as opposites in their movement. Citing the absurb understatement, he picked Monty Python's "just a scratch" statement by the man whose arm was torn off . He shared the devices of writers of comedy, such as irony which compares life as it really is with what it ideally is claimed, word games, screwing sacred cows, satire like Catch 22, and funny characters with funny names in even funnier settings. In the end he encouraged us all to write with humor our failures and fears, since there was little humor in our successes and achievements. At that a man in the audience replied, "that gives me much more to write about now!" And we all laughed as Neil had had us laughing together for over an hour with amusing anecdotes, wit, jokes and stories of sexual exploits of 80 year olds and the deliveries of babies at wedding ceremonies.
Neil later told me he came from a little town in Manitoba smack on the border of Saskatchewan. Tuckahoe Slidebottle is about a mythical town in Saskatchewan.
Neil said he and his beautiful wife did spend more time these days in Mexico where he is writing a new book about a constipated lover playing bingo for blessed egg laying chickens.
Perry and Cathy told me the writer's group will be starting up again.
It was announced today that Saskatchewan will be the first province to secede Canada beating Quebec who had previously won that vote. Apparently Saskatchewan complaining of daily traffic on it's once empty highways has booked passage on the space shuttle hoping to escape the noise of Ontario and American Idol tv.
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