This was the last day of this great conference.  It started with a session of readings.  I decided to go to see John Calabro and Helen Maria Viramontes.  I spent a lot of time through the conference chatting to John and I didn’t want to miss his reading. 

John Calabro is of Italian origins and Helen Maria Viramontes is of Mexican-American origins.  Both their reading reflected these and were thus a bit exotic.  Helen’s reading was tender, John’s was somewhat disturbing (you’ll understand better why if you read my review).  Both were enjoyable.  John read from The Cousin and I rushed to buy the book at the coffee break. 

Helen Maria Viramontes and John Calabro

Next, I went to see a great panel entitled “The Body in Life and Death” and heard three really interesting papers.  Sylvia Patter delivered a paper on olfactory imagery in Janet Turner Hospital’s stories.  I had never heard of this writer.  She was born in Australia and Patter’s paper focuses on how the imagery in her short stories evokes certain smells from that country.  I could nearly smell the flowers she was talking about.  Paddy O’Reilly presented a paper on the grotesque (and physical disability) in Flannery O’Connor’s stories.  I had not read anything by O’Connor (still have not; shame on me!) but her paper was quite fascinating.  Finally, Sharon Wilson talked about death in Atwood’s “Isis in Darkness” and “The Bog Man”.  She described those stories as “parodies of mythological quests”.  As you can imagine, I was delighted to listen to this paper.

I then had lunch with Sharon and we discussed Atwood a bit more.  Sharon is one of the most renowned Atwoodian (and one for  admiration) and I was glad to have this opportunity. 

I decided to skip the afternoon session and go to rest a little before the banquet.  The banquet was fun and it was nice to see everybody chill out.  There was a reading by Clark Blaise, which was preceded by a moving introduction from his wife, Bharati Mukherjee.

Those four days were great and very productive from my point of view.  I had a fantastic time and met wonderful people.  It was a bit sad parting (for me anyway), but I hope I’ll see some of these people again.  I don’t like endings, I always get a bit emotional; but new adventures were awaiting me.

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