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The Engineer

The Life and Times of Donald F. Simmons

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A great reading

Went to a terrific reading last night, at a club just south of my place on College and Shaw. It was organized by Indigo, who apparently want to try attracting bigger crowds by having readings where you can buy booze. It was actually a good venue, and the location certainly can't be beat. Daniel Richler acted as M.C.

Reading was a first novelist, Audrey Niffenegger, from The Time Traveler's Wife, which looks like a really good book. It features time travel as a chronic illness, with a guy who randomly slips thru time, arriving naked at various points in his life. The section she read concerned him spending the day with his younger self, and passing on handy survival tips like pick-pocketing and housebreaking.

Second up (and the main event) was English author Martin Amis, described as one of the most celebrated and vilified authors of our time. His current book, Yellow Dog, has gotten a lot of scathing reviews in England. It concerns an average man who, after a head injury, starts going more and more around the bend. The section he read was very funny in a horribly scatological kind of way.

They handled the Q&A in a poor fashion, if you ask me, by putting both authors on stage together for it. While Ms. Niffenegger did a good reading, and seemed to have a very quirky sense of humor, when you have a choice between asking a first-time novelist about her work, and asking Martin Amis about the time Salman Rushdie challenged him to a fist-fight (over Amis' hatred of Samuel Beckett), which question are you going to ask? It would have been fairer to have the audience ask questions immidiately after each reading.

Still, I'm looking at getting both books.