Anakana Schofield – Author of Martin John and Malarky

Books November

I am currently reading between four books.

Betty Lambert’s Crossings I am rereading slowly in preparation for the up and coming event at the Vancouver Public Library I am organizing. A group of us writers — Annabel Lyon, Juliane Okot Bitek, Claudia Casper, Renee Rodin and Lori Weidenhammer — are revisiting Crossings to see whether there are new readings to be had on the book. Lori, a performance artist will revisit a Lambert play)

Lambert’s Crossings is a book to be slowly digested and it is at times an immensely difficult but worthwhile digestion. The book possesses an unevenness — something that is necessary or fitting when you think about the uneven nature of the two main people it circulates around.

The other three books I am nesting with, in a remarkably different manner of reading, are three old Press Gang books:

1. Common Ground: Stories by Women

2. An Account To Settle The Story of the United Bank Workers (SORWUC).

3. Sometimes They Sang. Helen Potrebenko.

The first book I have read two or three of the stories and they made me think about space and the close confines in which the people live to each other and how people are invited into space. The second (non fiction) reads rather like an adventure (I’ve read much less successfully attempts at this in fiction!) and the third, I consider a vital novel (out of print naturally). All three contain strikes and picket lines in relation to women. I did not select them knowing this, in fact two of them I found on the side of the road. It’s curious what emerges when you open books in tandem or parallel.

I walked into a v interesting pile of books today, and welcomed them, with a great deal of assistance from my son, who helped me carry them to our home. Some will journey on and be hopefully traded in for copies of Betty Lambert’s Crossings for readers at our December VPL event. Don at McClouds Bookshop downtown was superbly helpful in sourcing the copies I have so far.

Amongst the “resting chez nous” stack were some local classics!

An Account to Settle: The Story of the United Bank Workers (SORWUC) (Press Gang)

Common Ground Stories by Women (Press Gang)

Some kind of government publication called Sound Heritage Vol VIII this one is called Opening Doors Vancouver’s East End.

And my favourite of the scoop:

Forever Deceiving You: The Politics of Vancouver Development. (Published in 72 by the Vancouver Urban Research Group)

Slightly further geographically afield from the viaduct I was delighted to scoop Jean Baudrillard’s For a Critique of the Political Economy of the Sign — a book only last week I was reading a few pages of upon google book preview. I can’t recall why I was reading it, perhaps in relation to a film, that’s my recollection, but I made a note to obtain a copy. Lo the pavement, how she does provide!

I’ve gotten some helpful perspectives on Cabbagetown from other writers. I haven’t asked permission to quote them, so I’ll leave their names out for now. One explained fans of the work were “in awe of his daring in describing sexual violence, the nobility of poverty, the depravity of men, and savagery of casual misfortune.” Another writer  suggested to visit some other texts of that time and to look up the back catalogues of Press Gang. I am glad for these exchanges because it gives me other ingredients to consider when I am reading, so thank you to those writers.

To read out is something I find satisfying, more so than writing out. I suppose I prefer to have whole units from which as reader I can inter-relate or read in opposition. Personally I don’t want to write to or from other writers, I want to write into whatever I am writing, a pneumnatic “into” that might shift or throw it’s own debris up. It’s also perhaps challenging for the reader because it insists on a claustrophobia, but I enjoy challenge as a reader and have incredible faith in readers (over publishers who make decisions about what we read, hark the digital age and the end of such limits!)