So, I'm introducing Roddy Doyle for a reading here in Guelph tonight. It's a bit of a coup that the local cultural nexus point, independent bookstore and cinema The Bookshelf, managed to get Mr Doyle to come the hour from Toronto. As I understand it, he was to do two readings in TO -- at U of T and at Chapters -- but Chapters bailed. Why in god's name a national bookstore wouldn't want someone like Roddy Doyle to appear is beyond me, but then again, much of what they do there is beyond me.
Anyway, their loss is Guelph's gain. Many of my writer friends from Toronto are either moving, or contemplating moving, out here. It's small-town living in a city of 120G -- you get everything you need from a small city, but you also get to feel as though your kids can roam free without stepping on heroin needles. I like that.
One problem with Guelph, at least from my standpoint, is that we're low on visible writers. Lots of musicians and visual artists, but not too many literary types. I've made friends with several of the local scribblers, Dennis Bock, my drinking buddy and fellow father chief among them, but largely the writer folk stay quiet and scarce. Perhaps that's why they moved here. Me, I just liked the town's no machinegun-toting gangs angle.
Anyway, what this means is that someone like me becomes something of the go-to guy for lit matters. I've arranged a writers' room, organized a few readings, started a kids reading group, read at local benefits, etc. Now I'm stretched about forty ways from Tuesday.
You see, I can't say no. Even when I should. It's an ugly thing. The Bookshelf calls and says, Hey, can you introduce Roddy Doyle, and I say, Sure! Then I hang up the phone and barf. Roddy Doyle. Hundreds of people. Me talking out my arse about fiction. Niiiice.
Doyle is one of those writers who keeps me from writing fiction. He's good enough at it that the world doesn't need me crapping on. And unlike most of my favourite writers, he's funny as all get out.
I'm supposed to have dinner with him at six. I can't imagine he's anything but tired of making small talk with hosts. I imagine it'll be fun to hang out with him, whereas I can't imagine it would be "fun" to "hang" with Coetzee. I would love to complete a PhD and then "talk" with Coetzee, but I can't imagine "hanging" with him.
Wish me luck.