By Alexander Kosoris
There’s ten people in the world and the rest is ghosts and mirrors.
– Cordelia Strube, On The Shores of Darkness, There is Light
We’ve been fortunate enough to have yearly events put on by the International Festival of Authors here in Thunder Bay. On November 1, this year’s talks involve quite a diverse group of authors, including two poets who employ vastly different styles and a couple of talented novelists. Whether you are able to attend or not, you can still appreciate some of the great work produced by this capable quartet.
In Amy Jones’ debut novel, a Thunder Bay woman winds up in a coma after going over Kakabeka Falls in a barrel, leaving her family reflecting on their lives up to that point in search of a reason why. The story transports us from the present to the past and back again, and the seamless transitions back and forth are where the writing really shines. This one’s full of heart and highly readable.
Andy McGuire’s collection of poetry covers a wide range of topics and ideas, from very broad concepts like war and climate change down to personal musings. The author keeps the verse highly structured throughout, and he employs impeccable description and imagery that paints vivid pictures for our enjoyment. This one’s interesting and well worth a look.
Karen Connelly’s poetry collection is more narrative in nature than McGuire’s. In it, she explores the ideas of home and belonging, the ugliness we choose to ignore in polite society, guilt associated with physical relations, and the diminishing places of refuge in a cruel world. Connelly is very careful with her rhyming and flow, often repeating similar sounds rather than forcing tight rhymes. This one deserves a read-through (and re-read-through).
Cordelia Strube’s novel is a definite doozy. After her brother is born with hydrocephalus and requires constant care and attention, our young protagonist, Harriet, starts to feel progressively more ignored and invisible. She decides to work and save up enough money to run away to Algonquin Park, hole up in a cabin, and paint like Tom Thompson. In the process, she struggles with the true natures of the relationships of those around her as well as the concepts of right and wrong. Strube’s story is filled with memorable characters, misunderstandings, and a vibrant thoughtfulness that is rarely seen in modern literature.
The International Festival of Authors Ontario (IFOA) returns to the Thunder Bay Art Gallery on Tuesday, November 1 at 7pm. Tickets are $15 and are available at Waverley Park Library, Brodie Library and the Thunder Bay Art Gallery. Call 684 6811 for information.
Featured image: author (and our associate editor) Amy Jones, photo by Spun Creative