Geoffrey Taylor said it well last night, during his introductory speech to the Scotiabank Giller Prize finalist readings, the final event of this year's IFOA: "This has been, by all accounts, our most successful festival year."
The Fleck Dance Theatre was packed. I'd arrived just moments before Maeve Binchy welcomed us to the festival for the very last time. I'd only been able to find a seat at the back of the balcony, where the combined heat of hundreds had accumulated, where a few of the men had stripped down to their t-shirts. It felt appropriate, this heat, as if all the hard-won and beautiful words, sentences and stories that have been spoken onstage over the last eleven days had somehow arrived here, too, hanging on for one last hurrah.
We sat rapt as five Canadians, all of them either debut or sophomore authors, cast spells on us with pitch-perfect scenes of hilarity, brutality, heredity and love, their shoulders, for the most part, slouched over the podium as if guarding their books from over-exposure. I do not need to name them, as most readers of this little rag already know who they are - some of you were likely there last night, and perhaps remember the heat. What I will do is name their books, because as much as this last eleven days has been a celebration of authors, it has also been a celebration of what authors create, what they give to the world, what they share with us every time we turn a page.
Through Black Spruce
Good To A Fault
The Boys in the Trees
I know literary prizes aren't the endgame of this big, fantastical publishing world. I know there are hundreds of books published every year, and that many of them deserve so much more attention than they get. But last night no one was thinking these things. No one was thinking anything, in fact.
We were listening; we were reading.
I'm off to bed, to curl up with a good book. But stay tuned, because in the next few days I'll post a recap of IFOA 29, with all my favourite photos, quotes, and stories. And maybe, just maybe, I'll convince Colm Toibin to write me a few lines about his experiences guest-curating the most successful IFOA ever.
To everyone who has done so, thank you for reading. Ciao for now.
On a more serious note, the Quote of Day Eleven:
"Show me a computer and my back-hair begins to rise."
- Farley Mowat