Sunday, 20 April 2014

A Tribute to Alistair MacLeod

Alistair MacLeod died today- a great author, a great man!
Born in North Battleford, Saskatchewan on July 20, 1936,
Alistair's family moved to a farm on Cape Breton Island when he was ten.
Alistair began his career teaching public school.  After more education, he taught university in Indiana and Windsor.  His summers were spent in a cottage near Inverness on Cape Breton Island, where he wrote lots of short stories.

  Can you believe that he only wrote one novel?
And what a novel!
This novel was published in 1999 and I have been in three discussion groups when this book was discussed.  So I have read it many times.  I believe that it is a 'perfect novel'.

In 2002, Waterloo Region began One Book One Community and I was hooked from the start!  This novel was the first book chosen!  I was so excited about the book as well as the concept that I arranged to read the whole book at Fairview Mennonite Nursing Home.  Three days a week I arrived with music to set the scene while people were arriving.  I read in spite of coughing spells and listeners falling asleep.  Nothing could limit my enthusiasm.  I played great Scottish tunes while the residents left the room.  I really looked forward to these readings.  I had the last reading booked for the week before I was going on a holiday.  The ending of the novel is fabulous and I was so excited to read it aloud. The recorder and book were ready as I prepared to leave the house, when the phone rang.  It was the announcement that the nursing home was in quarantine. By the time the quarantine was lifted, I was on the road.  Possibly no residents recognized the absence of the ending, and I accepted that I had a great time reading this delightful book aloud from beginning- almost to the end!

When Alistair came to speak for O.B.O.C. I was there with bells on.  He was delightful and I had an opportunity to ask a question.  I forget the question, but remember that Alistair responded that it was a great question and I was thrilled to be in conversation with him.

I had another encounter with Alistair at Eden Mills Festival.  It was a very relaxed setting where several authors speak outside at different locations.  After listening to him talk about his writing, a group of us chatted with him about his O.B.O.C experience as well as other things.  It was very informal and he was delightful!  We were all charmed!
Alistair MacLeod won many awards, including The Dublin Literary Award - the highest paying award at $172,000.00.
In the book "Atlantic Canada's 100 Greatest Books, his book is listed as the best Atlantic book of all time.
                                       What an author!  What a man!

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